With all the moaning about the economy, many families have decided to cut out the summer vacation with the kids. And I'm here to tell you that this is not a tragedy that will scar your child for life. Children (and parents too) don't NEED vacations. They're nice to do, but not a necessity of life. So if you've got to go without for a year, you'll be fine.

So what's a family to do if they're staying home a'la a "STAYcation"??? There is plenty to do, and it starts first with enjoying your time with your children and significant other. One of the big drawbacks to a vacation is that some families plan so many activities that they never get to really enjoy one another's company. (And no, I'm not being sarcastic here.) Did you ever stop to think that your child might value some quiet one-on-one time with you?

If you're staying home, I recommend a good, old-fashioned fry-out with the kids. Some burgers with all the fixings, some ice cold beverages, and some backyard games to go along with it. If you've got some home repairs to do, why not make it a family project? Fixing or cleaning things might not be as fun as visiting with Mickey Mouse, but the family can still have fun doing something together.

Even if you're not leaving town for vacation, you should also investigate some local activities that you can do for little to no money. Sometimes museums offer discounted or free days for area residents. Check out the zoo if there's a special reduced admission day. Take a trip to your local library, one of the places not visited often enough by families. Go to the beach or find other free outdoor activities that offer fun for the family while not busting your budget.

A staycation can seem a little disappointing to the kids, but whether or not you enjoy it is up to you. If you're going to sit the kids in front of the television for a week, that's not going to be fun for everyone. But you can fun family activities and you might just see that staying home isn't a bad option, and maybe ends up to be even more fun for the kids.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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