Summertime spending can quickly spiral out of control. Synonymous with free-wheeling fun, travel, and entertainment, the summer season can burn a hole through your wallet faster than a sunburn. Sure, you can scrimp and save and avoid big spending like long vacations or costly home modifications during this season, but for most Americans, between entertaining kids who are home from school and cranking up the AC, one way or another, summer will cost you. With smart planning and savvy forethought, however, you can save money this summer without sacrificing any fun.
Lowering Energy Costs
About half of the average home’s energy expenses come from heating and cooling costs. Blasting your air conditioning unit during sweltering heat waves is a given, but there are ways to make your unit, and your entire home, more energy efficient to limit any waste. Make sure your AC has clean filters in anticipation of summer to allow for air to flow properly and keep the unit in working order, avoiding costly repairs. Energy Star also recommends installing programmable thermostats and sealing cooling ducts and windows to keep costs down.
Along with the cost of air conditioning, electronic gadgets and household appliances are also money-vacuums. Save by unplugging electronics when not in use and lowering or turning off lights altogether; a dimmer, gadget-free setting also considerably cools down the space, reducing the need for low AC temps (each degree is estimated to cost 3% of your energy bill). Adding to a cool space is reducing the heat in the kitchen. You’ll not only keep cooling costs down by limiting cooking in favor of salads, sandwiches, and cold-prepped foods, but also use the dishwasher less to clean pots and pans. If you live in a particularly hot region, try air drying laundry outdoors. You might be surprised at its effectiveness and reduction of your energy bill.
Summer Entertainment & Travel on a Budget
Americans are estimated to spend over $2,700 (per person!) on travel this summer. If you have kids, that might not be a realistic option. Instead, take advantage of local attractions and theme and water parks for day trips. Save even more by subscribing to daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial where you can find concert, park, ballgame, and festival admission at deep discounts; if you’re flexible and spontaneous, you can score 5-star getaways on the cheap since many destinations offer last-minute deals. If your family is tired of the “staycations” you’ve been taking in the backyard since they exploded in popularity during the recession of 2008, plan an affordable getaway by pairing with another family or friends to rent a house instead of a high-priced hotel. Sites like Airbnb and HomeExchange let you rent or swap homes directly from and with owners, adding the benefit of living like a local wherever you choose to go, and can cost you nothing if you’re up for a house-swap.
Save on camp costs and keep kids busy at home this summer with low-cost activities like bowling, movie nights, and community/city-sponsored events like free concerts and festivals. Set up a backyard camp with DIT (do-it-together) games that even grown-ups will enjoy.