The care-free days of summer are fast approaching — but be careful not to let those warm-weather vibes spill over into your finances. When you’ve already resolved to follow a budget, summer plans can sometimes derail that commitment. Outdoor events and summer vacations quickly upend even the most well-designed budget plan and inflate your credit card bills all year long. So, how do you stick to a budget when the days are longer, the weather is irresistible, and adventure is calling? We’ll show you the best ways to keep your spending — and your stress levels — in check with these tips to follow your budget this summer.
1. Plan Low-Cost Day Trips
The average week-long vacation costs $1,928 and the average expense for a weekend getaway is $564, according to a 2018 survey from Twine. If you haven’t already been squirreling away savings for a summer vacation, avoid racking up debt by charging a trip to your credit card — and choose a destination close to home. Plan a trip to a national park or a local beach, or even explore the downtown section of a nearby city. To sweeten the deal, pack a picnic lunch that will save you from shelling out money for food while on the road.
2. Check out Free Local Activities
Chances are your surrounding area plays host to different outdoor activities that are either free to the public or charge a nominal fee for admission, such as parades, carnivals, music festivals, and art shows. Check out your local newspaper, your town’s parks and recreation department website, and the area’s tourism bureau to find out about upcoming events. Your local library can also be a treasure trove of information on events in surrounding areas. Exploring your local community doesn’t have to cost a dime and it comes with the bonus of elevating your cultural awareness.
3. Entertain Friends at Home
Summertime is the prime season for barbecues and impromptu backyard gatherings. You may wonder how to stick to a budget when you need to plan meals and spruce up your space for entertaining guests. However, you can easily enjoy the company of your family and friends without risking your budget. Propose a game night or movie night, and ask that your guests each bring a food or dessert to share.
4. Save Small Amounts Every Week
If you haven’t already, start squirreling away a small part of your paycheck each week to put toward unanticipated summer expenses or save for a future vacation (even if you won’t reach your goal amount this year). The amount can be small enough — such as $10 to $20 — that you won’t risk stretching your budget. Try out an app like Digit, which links up to your checking account and designates a small amount to withdraw from your checking account each month. Or you can even try an old-fashioned change jar and drop in spare change that you find around the house. Over time, the savings will add up.
5. Cash Out
Make sure your budget accounts for a little spending money for weekend adventures. You may want to withdraw that amount in cash and keep it in an envelope designated specifically for your planned excursion. Then make a list of your top affordable destinations or day trips, along with an estimated price for each. Challenge yourself to stay within the amount you budgeted each time.
6. Maximize Credit Card Rewards
Now’s the time to cash in on any credit card rewards you have earned over the course of the year. Points and miles could snag you deeply discounted airline tickets or hotel stays. You can also take advantage of cash-back offers on gas — which comes in handy on long car trips. Some credit card companies offer discounts or cash back on movie tickets, amusement parks, sporting events, and shows. Just make sure you aren’t using your credit card excessively only to score rewards and discounts and always aim to pay off your bill in full every month.
7. Minimize Electricity Usage
Sky-high bills from increased air conditioner usage can also sink your budget. Try only to turn on the A/C when absolutely necessary and crack a few windows instead to allow for comfortable sleeping at night. Spend more of your evenings outside in the extended daylight, and give your lights and screens a break.
Check in With Your Credit
Don’t let those summertime vibes destroy your budgeting — or your credit. Whether you’re contemplating how to stick to a budget during the summer or looking to tune-up your credit report, now is a great time to take stock of your financial situation. Get in touch with the pros at Ovation Credit, where we’re always willing to lend a hand. Contact us for a free consultation today.