School’s out for summer – parents brace for financial impact 

  • 61% of parents with children under 18 say it feels even more expensive to raise kids in the summer months
  • More than one-third (35%) of parents have to adjust their summer work hours to care for their children because the cost of childcare is too expensive
  • 29% of parents are unable to save money during the summer due to childcare costs

Summertime and the livin’ is easy – the motto of America’s youth. But for parents of young children, the summertime is anything but easy. As kids ditch early morning wakeup calls and homework assignments for playdates and time in the sun, parents are on the hook for keeping them entertained and cared for, which often comes at a high price tag. 

According to a new study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, 61% of parents with children under the age of 18 say it feels even more expensive to raise kids during the summer months, largely stemming from the cost of childcare. For 40% of parents, summer care isn’t even on the table due to the cost of living, making it so they cannot afford to enroll their children in summer programs and activities. 

This has many working parents making trade-offs when it comes to their careers, with more than one-third (35%) of parents saying they’ll have to adjust their summer work hours to care for their children because the cost of childcare is too expensive. For the 37% of parents lucky enough to have a support system nearby, they’ll depend on their family and friends to help them with childcare this summer. 

Of parents who are enrolling their children in summer programs, 28% plan to take on debt to cover the costs, whether they carry a balance on their credit card or use a buy now, pay later service. That’s realistic when you consider some parents, especially those with more than one child, could be adding thousands of dollars to their summer budgets. Of the 58% of parents who say they will be paying for their kids’ summer programs, nearly a quarter (23%) expect to pay more than $1,000 each month, per child, and 6% are facing monthly bills above $2,000. 

Regardless of parents’ plans for their children this summer, saving money is off the table for 29% of those who will not be able to contribute to their savings nest due to childcare costs, and this comes at a time when 40% of Americans don’t feel financially stable. Ultimately, many parents may not experience these next few months with the same fondness as their children given 40% say they stress the most about their finances during the summer. 

“For years now, American households have been grappling with rising prices for everyday essentials like food, gas and housing,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “At the same time, parents have been juggling steep increases in childcare costs, which has put a strain on monthly household budgets, especially of those with young children. The summer months can bring an added layer of stress as kids are out of school and parents have to figure out new childcare coverage, which can often lead to one parent sacrificing their career because the economics may not make sense otherwise. This likely impacts working women at a disproportionate rate, as they tend to carry a bulk of child care responsibilities. For those struggling to afford adequate childcare for your children, you can try visiting to learn about potential state resources that can help you pay for the care you need.”


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma between June 6, 2024 and June 8, 2024 among 2,006 adults ages 18 and older.