Kids, We can't afford vacation this year

5 tips for planning summer fun without breaking the bank

1. Evaluate your values
. The way we spend our money and our time reveals our values. Actions really do speak louder than words - and your kids are listening. You'd never say to your children, "You can't have fun unless you spend a lot of money to have prepackaged experiences," or "Kids can't have fun hanging out with their families" or even "It's fine to rack up lots of debt - to take a lavish vacation or put in a pool, for instance - even if you don't know how you're going to pay it back." That's what kids hear when you make certain decisions about how you spend your summer.

2. Don't charge summer activities. If a vacation or camp doesn't fit into your budget, it just doesn't fit. You should only utilize debt to make investments in things that gain value, such as real estate, a business or an education. If you can't pay cash for trips or activities, don't do it or buy it.

READ MORE: Tips for traveling with children

3. Factor in hidden costs. When you're trying to decide whether you can afford a vacation, factor in all the hidden costs. Before you reserve your hotel, make a list of all the expenses you may have overlooked. The cost of a vacation is not just hotel and airfare… it's also the new swimsuits you may have to buy, the gas you'll burn driving around in the rental car, the cost of boarding your pets and the cost of developing all the pictures you take while away.

4. Vacation close to home. You don't need to put the entire family on an airplane and fly thousands of miles away to have a fun time. Airfare is expensive and so is the rental car you'll need once you get to your destination. 

5. Be smart. No matter where your family goes or what they do to have fun together, you can cut costs.