Summer can be a drain on the wallet. With the kids at home and ready to play, entertainment costs can quickly skyrocket as you rack up bills for trips to the movies, water parks or summer camp. With that come increased transportation costs, compounded by rising gas prices. Household costs may also jump as we spend more on air conditioning, gardening, summer recreational gear, and cooler clothes.
But with some financial planning, the summer heat does not have to dry up all your hard-earned money and savings. Below is some simple financial help – tips that will ensure you stay financially solvent over these hot and expensive months.
Plan it or you’ll spend it
Knowing exactly how much money you have to spend will put you in a much better financial position come the end of August. Look at your income and how much you expect to spend, making provision for the increased expenses that come with summer. This will help you determine what you can or can’t afford. Set a summer budget and keep to it, using a spending diary to track your expenses against your budget.
Fun does not have to expensive
Look for family summer fun activities that are pocketbook-friendly. Google free events near where you live and you’ll be surprised what you’ll find. Family picnics can be quite inexpensive – pack your lunch and head to a local park. Consider renting movies the family can enjoy at home to avoid the inevitable costs that come with a visit to the theatre. Keep your eyes open for coupons and other promotions offered at entertainment venues. Remember, the key to family fun is creativity, not dollars.
Don’t let your ride be a money guzzler
We all know how draining gas costs can be and with increased driving, summer may be the perfect time to carpool. If you must drive, make sure your ride is in good shape. Simple steps such as maintaining the right pressure in your tires and reducing your speed can add up in savings.
Turn it off or turn it down
You need the AC to cool off during the summer but do you need it on all the time? Turning it off, or down, even a few hours a day can save you money. To keep cool indoors, make sure you home is well insulated to increase the efficiency of your air conditioner.
Some experts say paying with cash instead of cards can save you as much as 20 per cent just because of the visual reminder of money leaving your wallet. Debit and credit cards come in handy but nothing beats cash if you want to keep a lid on your spending.
Involve the whole family
Ask the whole family to make summer savings a goal. If your children are old enough for a summer job, help them secure one. Even doing something as simple as a paper route can teach a youth the value of money and work ethic. Ask everyone to suggest what they could to help save money over the summer holidays because every little drop adds up.
Kathy McGarrigle serves as Chief Operating Officer for Coast Capital Savings.