Summer isn’t for saving; it’s the season for spending. At least, that’s the message that many Americans relay when banks trot out their annual spending surveys.
For those of us already in heavy credit card debt, the summer offers many temptations to break out the plastic. The key is to spend smart, and save where possible.
Whether you’re spending on canoes, landscaping or vacations, here are some of the common spending traps summer sets for us — and how to mitigate them.
If you do your own landscaping and lawn care, you’re going to save money. That being said, if you absolutely do not want to cut your own grass or ruin your shoes by aerating the lawn with your high heels, consider hiring a neighborhood teen. Place an ad on-line, in a neighborhood forum, or at your local convenient store. Teens are always looking to make some summer spending cash.
Big stuff for your big summer fun
Seasonal items such as patio furniture will go on sale later in the summer; however, your choices will be limited by what is left in stock. If you’re looking for bigger ticket items such as water skis or furniture, consider buying it used. This past week, someone just sold a fantastic glass patio table, umbrella and six plush chairs for $190 on my local Bidding Wars Facebook group. And don’t forget to comb the house for things that you can sell yourself to recoup some cash.
Summer camp for kids
Camp is not cheap. It can be more expensive than daycare. The first thing to do is determine how much you can spend to send kids to camp. Then decide, with your kids, where and how to divide that sum. (Don’t forget to budget for extra gear, etc. that you may need for the camp.)
To save you money, some camps offer a siblings discount, so consider sending your kids to the same camp. Also, many have early-bird or return-camper discounts. If you can’t afford the entire cost up-front, ask if the camp has a payment plan. Some camps have subsidy programs with financial applications due earlier in the year.
The key to saving money on vacations is planning. Search for resorts or hotels or restaurants that offer free promotions for kids. Do a Google search for Groupon deals or coupon codes for local attractions. Consider visiting hot spots such as Arizona or Florida, which can be cheaper in the summer months, or explore your own country. Opt for a road trip and find accommodations with a kitchen through Airbnb, VRBO or Homeaway.com.
People think that by doing a staycation, they won’t be spending money. You need to have a budget for this as well. Keep a calendar of events that you want to enjoy with the family and the associated costs.
Making memories with your people
Barbecues, concerts, weddings — the events add up, but making lasting memories doesn’t have to mean creating lasting debt. It’s about making choices: saying “no” to something so you can say “yes” to something else.
Also, it’s never too late to start saving for your good times. It could be as simple as putting aside every $5 bill you see in your wallet for patio drinks. Even better, set up an automatic transfer of cash every payday for your summer expenditures.