With summer in full swing, many people may already be feeling a pinch in their pocketbooks. Unlike the fall and winter seasons when people are more likely to want to cozy up at home and be hermits, the siren call of the warm sun and blue skies are irresistible to many wanting to make the most out of these glorious months.
Unfortunately, all of this fun in the sun can come with a steep price tag. The good news is that with a little bit of planning and willpower, it is easy to avoid a wallet-wrecking summer. Here are a few tips to ensure that you seize the season while protecting your budget in the process.
Remember basic budgeting principles
Although it is tempting to let your budget go by the wayside during these frivolous summer months, savvy budgeters understand the importance of sticking to basic finance principles all year long. A good rule of thumb to follow is the 50/20/30 principle of budgeting. The first 50% of your budget should be allocated to necessary living expenses such as housing costs, utility bills, gas, groceries, etc. Don’t forget to account for extra costs incurred in the summer such as running an air conditioning unit or paying for summer camp for children. A full 20% should be directed toward improving your financial picture. Examples of this would be saving for retirement, paying off debt, and saving money for any college funds for your children. That leaves 30% for fun expenses such as eating out and splurging on that new pair of shoes. In abiding by this general principle, you will gain a clear picture of where your money is going each month.
Think outside the box
We’ve all been there — planning a low-cost night at home when a friend invites you out to dinner and drinks at the trendiest new cafe. It is hard to say no to such offers, especially when the days are long and the nights are alive with summer fun. Instead of blowing your budget on a night of fun, take the lead and suggest that you get together for wine and cheese on your home patio. Or, go for a picnic at the park or on the beach. Low-cost outdoor activities are always a good option, and allows you to afford at least one night of extravagant spending a month.
Not limited to just summer planning, planning ahead is the single most important thing that you can do to ensure that you get the best deal on travel costs. By confirming your travel plans ahead of time, you will also allow yourself extra time to save for the trip. Furthermore, the further ahead that you plan, the better prices you’ll get on flights and hotel rooms. Knowing the total cost in advance gives you a better picture of what you need to do to finish the trip without any debt.
Learn to say “no”
This one can be the hardest rule to follow. With a variety of temptations from long weekend trips to drinks out on a bar patio, there are many potential budget traps out there during these months. Practice saying “no” and learning to understand that there will be plenty of fun opportunities to live it up later on down the road. Most importantly, make it clear to your friends or family that you may be on a budget. That way, they also may be more inclined to find alternatives, and you may not have to turn down plans after all.