“Summertime and the living is easy…”
Summertime—the children are out of school, you are heading for vacation, routines are abandoned and a sort of carelessness enters. It is a heady time when the main focus is on having fun. It is also the most dangerous time financially, because sticking to your budget means that at least one routine cannot be abandoned. Also there is an attitude of “hey, I’m on vacation, I want to treat myself,” which is terrific, if you can afford it. If not, you could see your summertime “treats” become your wintertime blues.
Here are 8 ways to avoid busting your budget this summer.
- Don’t wait until summer arrives to think about what you will spend. At the beginning of the year, when you are preparing your new annual budget factor in your summer vacation plans, activities for the kids when they are out of school, and those extra treats, such as trips to the movies, amusement parks, dining out, coffee at the bookstore—small things that do not require leaving town, but add up to a significant expense.
- Plan out your entire summer calendar: birthdays, family gatherings, special events and holidays, vacations, all the things you like to do in the summer. Estimate the cost for each activity and plug it into your budget.
- SAVE for your summertime fun and pay for everything in cash. Give yourself a weekly summer fun allowance, and stick to it. If the kids are old enough to do things on their own, give them an allowance too.
- Take advantage of season passes, even if you think you will not use the facility so often. It takes only a couple of visits to make the expenditure well worth it. Look for movie discounts, coupons, daily specials and websites. You will find that many attractions offer special prices for internet purchases, but make sure the vendor is reputable.
- Avoid the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. You may observe that everyone around you is also trying to have a good time and that most of your friends, neighbors and colleagues have adopted a pretty carefree attitude toward spending money. Limit your time on social media so you will not be inundated with the latest updates about excursions and purchases or photos of the exotic places people are going for summer vacation.
- Look for free stuff to do. Scan your community magazines and bulletins, check websites, and talk with your friends. The summer months are filled with fun activities that are free and fun to do. There are local festivals, summer theater and concerts, and of course the big outdoors is always free.
- Conduct a weekly check-in. Normally you want to review your budget quarterly to assess how you are doing, but during the summer, when one abandons all routines, it can be tempting to also abandon the budget. Reviewing your expenses weekly will help you stay on track. And it will remind you of upcoming expenses, or help you to avoid those special “sales” that seem to be too good to pass up.
- Don’t feel bad about saying no, to the kids or to your friends. Keep your long-term budget goals in mind and if you cannot afford to do something with your cash-only summer budget, then simply decline the invitation. If it helps you can dream about how you are going to feel in the fall when you have no summer vacation bills to pay and your friends are stressing out about how they will afford the upcoming holidays.