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Finding Financial Balance

Seasonal summer spending

kids playing

Acknowledging seasonal and occasional expenses is an important part of your spending plan or budget. Tracking these expenses allows you to plan ahead in case you need to save up. Vacations, kids’ summer camps and daycare, and property taxes may be some seasonally occurring expenses that bust your budget if you are not prepared. Planning for these important expenses throughout the year instead of waiting until the full amount is due will help you keep your budget balanced and stay on track to meet your financial goals.

Vacation Planning

Staycations may be a budget-friendly option if your budget does not allow for expensive travel this year. Look for inexpensive attractions that are within driving distance to avoid the cost of an overnight stay. For the St. Louis area, there are some low-cost entertainment opportunities: St. Louis Zoo has free admission, general admission to the Science Center is free, the Magic House has some free family nights in the summer, and the St. Louis Arch Museum is free. There may also be free opportunities for bowling locally during the summer.

Check out your local library to see if any activities or events are happening over the summer. The Nashville Public Library has fishing gear to check out and use as a fun summer activity. Most libraries have a summer reading program for youth. The Breese Public Library offers entertaining youth events in combination with its summer reading program at no cost. The Centralia Public Library provides mobile Internet hot spots for library cardholders to check out. Local libraries may be places to find information for summer entertainment on a budget.

Create a spending plan for the next year by setting aside money for a future vacation. Research low-cost options for vacations that meet your personal values and needs, whether it be relaxing on a beach, hiking and exploring the outdoors, or visiting an amusement park. Look for ways to vacation while minimizing costs.

Kids Summer Camps, Sports, Childcare, & Fun Activities

With school-age children, families may require additional funds for childcare during the summer months. In addition to the childcare costs, the grocery costs may also be higher during the summer months. Illinois General Assembly recently passed legislation to provide free breakfast and lunch for K-12 students who qualify, which lowers food costs during the school year. When summer break arrives, is your budget prepared for those extra meals?

In Illinois, children under the age of 14 are not allowed to be unsupervised for an unreasonable period of time. Summer childcare can be hard to find and expensive. Some day camp programs may qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit. Be sure to keep records of your childcare expenses over the summer as this may be useful when filing your taxes.

Property Tax Payments

For local (Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, & Washington counties) homeowners, summer also tends to bring Illinois property tax deadlines. Each county may have a different deadline, but the first installment may be due in the summer/fall with the second installment a month or so later. Even if your property taxes are paid by a third party, such as your mortgage company, it is good practice to review your property taxes annually to know your property’s assessed value and the taxes due. For more information on your property assessment and taxes, go to your local assessor’s website:






Acknowledging all the seasonal and occasional expenses in your budget allows you to plan for these costs in advance. Create a spending plan for summer that incorporates your values and considers all the seasonal summertime expenses.


Child and dependent care expenses. (2022). Internal Revenue Service.

Preparing your children to stay home alone. (2023). Department of Children and Family Services (Safety First / Safety Always).

Illinois General Assembly - Bill Status for HB2471. (2023).

Meet the Author


Jamie Mahlandt is a financial educator for Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, and Washington counties in Southern Illinois. She provides financial education to the local community with an emphasis on financial literacy and financial well-being.



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