Memorial Day is just around the corner signaling that wonderful, happiness-inducing, unofficial start to summer. (The official first day of summer is actually June 21, but who’s counting?)
Summer’s warm weather, slower pace and longer days means there’s more time for fun and relaxation. But having fun doesn’t mean you have to throw out your good financial behavior, however. In fact, we have some great strategies to help you enjoy summer as much as ever - without going broke in the process.
It’s human nature to want to splurge when you’re having a good time, but it’s more important than ever to keep your financial goals in order during the summer. You don’t want to undo all the positive work you’ve done and you want to make sure you continue improving your spending, savings and credit habits. A recent survey found that more than two-thirds of vacationers admit to spending too much on their trips with half of them taking on new credit card debt, too.
It might not seem like a big deal to use credit to fund the summer months, but it can easily sneak up on you and get out of hand. Before you know it, you could have a big balance with high interest that you’ll be paying off long after your tan fades and all through the cold winter months. And that is no fun at all.
So, with all that in mind, you can have a great summer full of fun and memorable experiences that will get you all the way to Labor Day with all your budgetary goals still intact.
Here are three great tips to have a blast while staying on budget for the next three months:
1. Take a modestly priced vacation. For many families, a summer vacation is their biggest expense of the year. Spending can easily get out of hand if you don’t account for all of the things you might have to pay for.
Here are some important items to consider well in advance of your trip:
Parking (park on the street rather than the hotel or just leave the car at home and stick to public transport)
Meals (determine a maximum cost per person, per meal and stick to it)
Souvenirs (do you really need a shot glass from Daytona? Think about what you’ll actually want to keep to remind you of your trip)
Shopping (these days, most common purchases can be found anywhere; make sure you’re not just spending out of habit, only buy things that you really need, not just want)
Tickets to shows or movies (look for discounts in local magazines or online, ask the hotel concierge about promotional discounts, find a Groupon)
Other activities: Swimming lessons, snorkeling, bike rentals, aquatic equipment rentals and more can really add up. Make sure you don’t waste money on activities you don’t really care about or are just not in your budget.
2. Save on child care. Summer camps can be very expensive but there are ways around that. Some camps offer early payment option with great discounts. Weekly camps are another way to save money. The YMCA is always a good option with budget-friendly camps and highly qualified counselors.
3. Consider free or low-cost activities. The best part about summer is the beautiful weather – and enjoying the great outdoors is often the best entertainment. Take advantage of it! Get outside!
Start a neighborhood pot luck barbecue in the park once a week, where everyone brings a dish
Take day trips to local nature spots - hike, kayak, swim, fish, go for bike rides
Check out free concerts and movies at your local community college.
Check out farmers markets, crafts fairs and art festivals in your community.
See a baseball game. It could be Little League, minor a major league game. Tickets can be cheap and who doesn’t love baseball and a hotdog in the middle of summer? It doesn’t get more American than that.
Head to the museum, zoo or botanical garden. They often have discounted summer rates and sometimes free tickets for kids.
If it’s rainy, hit the library and check out some books or see a matinee. Matinees are always lower priced than regular tickets.*
And here’s a great - and super easy! - strategy to plan for next summer:
Start a Summer Savings account the minute you get home from that trip - or right after Labor Day.
By saving up bit by bit all during the year, you can then use that pool of money to put toward your next vacation. Doing this will ensure that you stay on track and keep spending within your budget. Plus it will feel easy because it’s gradual.
If you just save $25 a week, for example, it won’t feel like much at the time but it’ll add up quick. Picture it: you’ll have an extra $1,300 at the ready to put toward a summer trip in 2018.
Summer is one of the best times of the year to really relax, unwind and recharge – so go ahead, you’ve earned it! Just keep in mind how good you'll feel knowing your new adventures and fun experiences aren’t taken at the expense of your long-term financial goals.
And remember to wear your sunscreen! :-)
Looking for even more ways to save money all year?
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