For most, summertime is an extra drain on the budget. With vacations, expensive entertainment, camps, road trips, and air-conditioning, many may consider it pointless to save some extra cash and try to reduce debt. Here are 10 tips you can follow to navigate the summer money pitfalls and still have fun!
- DEFEAT THE HEAT: Use a timer on your thermostat and set the temperature to 74 degrees or higher when you are away from your home during the day or any considerable amount of time. Use drapes or blinds to keep the sun out at peak hours. Focus on cooling rooms you use most by keeping the door closed. Ceiling fans and standing fans, especially at night, can help bring a chill as well.
- KEEP KIDS HAPPY: Day camps can provide activities at a reasonable cost. Research what’s available near you by using Google. Search “your town” plus “low cost camps.” Visit the community pool, beach or lakefront for a splash without spending much cash. Don’t forget about Vacation Bible Schools offered by many local churches.
TRAVEL ON A DIME: Staycations became the buzz word of the recession and it is still relevant today. I call it, “being a tourist in my own town.” Spend a day visiting the museums. Plan an adventure, like canoeing or hiking, at one of the State Parks. Has anyone heard of a road trip? Pack up the car and drive two hours to a neighboring city for new experiences and cusine.
GET EVERYONE A SIDE-HUSTLE: Summer is a good time to put skills and talents towards your own business. Teachers can tutor, for instance, athletic enthusiasts can coach, referee/umpire or train. Anyone up for more labor intensive tasks can earn extra cash by lawn care, house painting, or handyman tasks. For mature children, baby or pet sitting, running errands, or cleaning garages/basements are options to earn some additional cash.
SELL YOUR STUFF: Summer is yard/garage sale season, so unload all that “too good to dump” clutter. No yard, set up a table on the sidewalk. Another route to reselling is online using Craigslist or eBay. For some of your finer things, there are many designer resale boutiques popping up online.
EAT TO SAVE: Patronize local farmers’ markets for low-cost in season produces. The Eastern Market is a great way to stock and to support local producers. Join a community garden. Eat more light meatless meals.
CURB THE CAR: Metro Detroit is still a car town, but have you noticed the bike trails along the road? Take the plunge and consider biking on shorter routes. Walk to the neighborhood store instead of getting in your car to drive 5 minutes. Both options will help you save on gas and get some exercise to boot!
KEEP IT SIMPLE: Plan summer activities around what really matters. Sit on your porch or yard with your partner, watching the night stars and talking. Take the kids for ice cream and watch their faces light up. Get to know your neighbors with a community BBQ. Catch-up with long time friends over cold refreshing drinks. What you pay out for these activities will be minimal, but the return is priceless.
LIVE AND LEARN AT THE LIBRARY: It’s air-conditioned, well-lit, has computers at your disposal, and they have all of the latest magazines! The more you hang out there, the less power you use at home. Plus, it’s quiet and you can hear yourself think. Ideal for studying up on financial independence and reading a few books while you are there.
REDUCE YOUR DEBT: Review your credit cards and make sure you are getting the best rates. Consider consolidating or transferring payments to a card with lower interest rate. Set up a debt reductions plan. Finally, apply all of the extra cashed saved or earned from #1-9 to reducing your debt.
Summer has spending traps that can destroy your budget and get you deeper in debt. But it is also a time when people have more leisure, so it’s a good opportunity to examine your financial situation and devise a game plan to save money and reduce debt. Happy Summer!
Samirian Hill, The MoneyWise Teacher, is the President and Founder of BudgetWise Financial Solutions, LLC (http://www.budgetwisefinancial.com) , where they teach people to manage money wisely. Contact her for a complimentary consultation at 248-905-1625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.