Cookouts, swimming pools, fireworks, vacations — summer is full of fun.
But with all that fun, it can be easy to mentally check out on your money goals. When you’re in “relaxation mode,” you may be tempted to spend a little extra here or a little extra there. Before you know it, you’ve busted your budget and your money is gone.
I don’t want that to happen to you. I want you to have a fun summer and stay in control of your cash. So, here are five tips to help you keep your summer spending in check:
1. Press pause on one-click payments. We’ve all done it. We go on a website and purchase something with just one click. It takes no effort and is so darn convenient. It almost feels like you’re not paying at all, because the cash — or even your debit card — was never in your hands. You can easily one-click your way into overspending.
So, if you’re inside hiding from the heat, be aware of your online shopping habit. Instead of purchasing an item immediately, take a step back and think about it overnight. Maybe the kids don’t need that 30-foot water slide sitting in your online shopping cart.
2. Get out of the house. Take advantage of those longer days and sunny rays by getting outside. Think about it: This may be a great time to get rid of your cable bill and your gym membership. Not only do they keep you indoors, but they also soak up your money.
Without the cable, you can save money on your electric bill by unplugging your devices. After all, you won’t be using them as much — especially if you’re going on vacation or planning to spend the day outdoors.
3. Choose a budget-friendly vacation or try a “staycation.” Yes, it’s possible to take a summer vacation without going into debt. You’ll need to create a budget to see how much you can afford to spend this year — and stick to that number. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, free budgeting app, I recommend Everydollar.
Maybe you can’t swing a luxury condo, so challenge yourself to get creative about where to stay. Consider going smaller or doing something totally new like taking a family camping trip. Set a daily spending allowance to cover all the food and fun activities. Then focus on your family. Once you hit the highway, remember why you’re going on the trip in the first place. Vacation is about quality time together, not the receipts and trinkets you collect along the way.
4. Cool your air conditioning costs. Did you know you can save 10 percent a year on your cooling bills by setting your thermostat just seven to 10 degrees higher for eight hours a day? You can also save by doing easy things like closing the blinds, using a fan, getting a programmable thermostat, or cleaning your air vents. Small changes can save you big bucks, so make these a habit.
5. Find inexpensive fun. Summer activities that won’t break the bank exist! Grab your kiddos, make some sandwiches, and go on an evening picnic. I know, I know. It’s so much easier to go out to dinner, but the food budget is where most people normally overspend.
If you’re looking to keep the kids occupied, head to the nearest discount store and buy all the plastic things. Yard toys galore will bring the fun without hurting your wallet.
And don’t forget to do some research to see what affordable options are available in your community. You may even find a nearby church or recreation center offers free activities.
I want you and your family to have the best summer ever. And that means not going into debt for a little fun in the sun. These ideas are all super simple, but they do take some planning — and budgeting. Be sure to include extra summer expenses in your budget. That way you’ll be set up to have a fun summer, without paying for it in the fall.
As a #1 New York Times best-selling author and seasoned communicator, Rachel Cruze helps people learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. She’s authored three best-selling books, including Love Your Life, Not Theirs and Smart Money Smart Kids, which she co-wrote with her father, Dave Ramsey. You can follow Cruze on Twitter and Instagram at @RachelCruze and online at www.rachelcruze.com, youtube.com/rachelcruze or facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.