School is officially out in less than a week! Have you made plans to keep your children busy during this summer? Summer activities can be expensive! How to budget for kids’ summer activities?

Every February, I begin the process of enrolling my kids into various summer activities, including soccer, swimming, language school, and hockey clinics. The costs can quickly add up!

While some parents have lined up activities for their kids, others are scrambling to pay for additional expenses that come up while school is out. According to a recent TD survey, 55% of Canadian parents with children under the age of 18 take on additional costs during the summer including summer programs such as camps and activities. In fact, 71% of them spend up to $999 per child!

Where are Canadians spending their money during the summer? The most popular additional activities or programs parents sign their kids up for during the summer include:

  • Family vacations (55%)
  • Classes – e.g. swimming, dance (53%)
  • Day trips – e.g. zoo (51%)
  • Summer camp (49%)
  • Sporting activities (46%)


How can Canadian parents budget for kids’ summer activities? Here are some tips on how to budget for kids’ summer activities from TD Canada Trust experts, Linda MacKay, Senior Vice President, Retail Savings and Investing and Shirley Malloy Associate Vice President, Acquisition & Sales Management.

How to Budget for Kids' Summer Activities

How to Budget for Kids’ Summer Activities

Budget and start saving early

While it may be too late for some camps and activities, saving ahead of time to account for the extra costs incurred over the summer is crucial. Save a little money each month and put into your TFSA; online budgeting tools, like visiting, can also help you determine how much to save each month. In my kitchen, I have a sealed jar with a teeny tiny slit for coins and bills – this is our “fun activities/ vacation” jar so we can save money throughout the year to spend during summer.

The early bird gets the worm

Some camps offer a discount on early registration; check the sign up dates and sign up in advance to save a few dollars. While some activities offer early bird rates, others offer discounts if siblings are enrolled. Some camps even offer payment plans to pay over course of the year rather than in one lump sum. Mark January in your calendar as a time to begin scheduling summer camps and activities – it’s never too early to start.

Shop around

Municipally run activities through community centres or the parks and recreation department often offer lower cost programming. There are also some wonderful free programs offered – check online or through your town or public library. My son came home from school the other day asking me to sign him up with the book club through TD Canada Trust and our local public library. The prizes are great incentives to motivate reluctant readers during summer.

File your receipts

Some summer costs could be tax deductible as a child care expense or under the child fitness tax credit on your tax return. I save all of my sports receipts in a file folder so that come tax time, I already have copies ready to go.

Check your rewards balance

Redeem some of your loyalty rewards, such as points from your First Class Travel Credit Card, to help fund activities and travel. For example, you can use your loyalty rewards to redeem certain theme park passes or tours and excursions.

Need help planning your finances? The TD Planning Tools site is a great start.

Stay safe and have a happy summer!


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Savvy Mom and TD Canada Trust. As always, the opinions stated herein are my own.


Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of, a leading lifestyle blog for women.


  1. Ronda Ogilvie Reply

    you provided some really great tips for saving money over the summer! We have been spending a lot of time at home this summer to trying and save money. Next year I will have to shop around early for all the good deals!

  2. This is great to know. As a Canadian mom with 6 kids we often find it super hard to plan summers. The money isn’t always the object, it’s getting around (neither of us drive) so I’m glad to read some things to do in the summer while also saving money, this is perfect for us! We like to shop around and as you say, the early bird gets the worm. Which is something I try to remember daily and when I’m trying to figure out plans!

  3. I never thought to check my rewards programs – what a brilliant idea. Although I don’t think local places would take rewards for classes and camps. We save early and try to budget at least one special interest per child. It is hard with three kids though.

  4. I remember way back when we were schooling, we used to attend summer classes to improve our skills in other subjects not being taught in the normal classroom setting. This is to advance ourselves and have an advantage against our classmates. We also had sports, like martial arts and dancing. I don’t have an idea on how our parents managed to budget finances for those.

  5. Even with me just having a toddler, I know how important it is going to be to save for him to be able to do fun things with or without the family in years to come. The expense will go up with more kids. I think a budget is good for all aspects of life but planning for fun and adventure as well as educational really do sit high on my list!

  6. Summer vacation can be so hard to budget for!! This year we had to throw soccer into the budget and all the expenses that go with it. We try to start planning in February what the kids will be doing so we can save up.

  7. Wow! This is a really insightful blog post full of great ideas and conversation starters. Budgeting is so important, and it’s something that I need to get better at in my own life. I think it’s important to make lists and write things down! Summer vacation can be hard to keep under wraps spending-wise because it’s out of your normal routine. You have some great ideas here!

  8. These are some great tips for saving money for kids activities. I tend to start shopping around for summer activities in early spring. I’ve found there are a lot of places that have early bird pricing. I was able to get my son a tech camp this summer for less than half the normal price. He is so excited to be attending it.

  9. I’m concerened about the amount of kids I want to have, and how to pay for all their extra curricular activiies when it comes time for them all to participate in them. All great tips you wrote, to keep in mind. I definitely am going to be one of those early bird gets the worm kinda Momma. I don’t like spending a penny more than I have to.

  10. These are awesome tips. I like the idea of saving early. It gives you the extra money without actually noticing that you’ve been saving it up for months. We will do this stating today!

  11. Elizabeth O. Reply

    These are helpful tips. I should start saving for next year.

  12. Kids like to have fun in the summer months, and it can get costly. I understand where you are coming from with this post.

  13. I had to do a lot of this when my daughter was younger. She wanted to do a lot of things in the summer and it took a lot of money to keep her from getting bored.

  14. I like this idea a lot. We don’t send our kids off to camp and doing a family vacation isn’t something we’ve done yet. However, I am hoping to make it a point to do it next year! Thanks for these tips.

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