Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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Steps Can Help Keep Costs of Day Trips Down

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If you're planning some day trips this summer, the NY1 Money Matters report offers suggestions on how to have fun without being taken for a ride. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

Summer days may leave your family with lots of free time. Filling that time can be an expensive proposition.

"It really makes the phrase Christmas in July all the more appropriate," says Ross Kenneth Urken, personal finance editor for The Street. "Between May and September, we're actually spending as much as we do around Christmastime."

Urken says a bulk of that money is devoted to keeping the kids busy. For one thing, there's day camp, which, for working parents, is often a necessity.

"It's costing Americans about $1,000 per child to pay for camp this summer, and that's up $400 from two years ago," Urken says.

But there is some good news. Provided you work and your child is under the age of 13, you may be eligible for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of your camp costs. However, this credit only applies to day camps, not sleepaway camp.

Heading to a zoo or theme park this year? Day trips can also prove to be a quite a roller coaster ride for your wallet.

"Spending for families on those trips is at $70 million. That's up 12 percent from last year," Urken says.

Luckily, there are some steps you can take to bring that cost down. For one thing, look for coupons, online and elsewhere.

"If you type in amusement parks, for instance, there are deals for a park like Six Flags or Hershey Park, so definitely take advantage of those discounts," says Trae Bodge, senior lifestyle editor for Retailmenot.com. "Another great place to find those deals, especially for places nearby, diner menus, grocery store bulletin boards, the calendar your town might send you."

If you think you may go more than once, consider a season pass or membership, which sometimes also buys you perks like free parking. Some attractions also offer a discounted price for late arrivals. And avoid blowing your budget and your diet by packing food for trips to parks, zoos or beaches.

Finally, Bodge says not all fun has to cost a fortune. Visit your town's Facebook page or check out what's going on at your local library.

"They might have a visiting author, they might have a craft class, things like that that will be either free or very low price," Bodge says.

Leaving you more money for back-to-school shopping.

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