Summer goes fast, and so does your cash when you’re out enjoying yourself. There are ways to watch your spending and protect what you’ve budgeted for seasonal fun, that long-awaited vacation, and day to day living.
Traveling: Ways to Save Along the Way
Whether staying close to home or hitting the road, summer vacations and weekend getaways can’t be beat. Plan ahead and plan wisely to cap costs.
- Whatever you’re doing, be sure to book early to get better deals. Hop on reservations for flights, hotels, rental cars, restaurants, and tickets for events (you can always cancel). And if you are a whimsical traveler, there are last minute deals to be had and apps to help you find them.
- There’s no better way to treat yourself than by using accrued credit card points or perks to pay for lodging, flights, cruises, and more.
- To avoid surprises, call local tourism boards to confirm what’s open and/or happening in the areas you’ll be visiting, like state parks, public beaches, museums, and festivals.
- Try to road-trip during daylight hours, keep the tank full (prices are rising daily) and download an app that tells you where local gas stations are, take lots of breaks, and always stop when you’re tired. Bottles of water and a stocked emergency kit are also a good idea for unexpected breakdowns or delays.
- We’re still not clear of Covid-19, so think twice when frequenting hotel buffets, lobby breakfasts, foodfests, and street eats.
- Travel safe and don’t forget to pack masks, sanitizer, wipes, insurance/doctor info, I.D. bracelets, and prescriptions.
Entertaining: Share the Fun (and the Finances)
Seeing calendars fill up with plans with family and friend is so welcome after playing it safe during Covid-19. And because so many of us are still watching our spending, it’s also the perfect time to pool resources.
- Host a potluck dinner and have guests bring a dish or dessert and a bottle.
- Get everyone in the neighborhood to go in on one big block party.
- Stoke up the firepit and invite everyone to bring their favorite campfire food.
- Plan a BYOB picnic in the park and just sit back and enjoy each other’s company.
- Meet at the beach for a spontaneous sunset happy hour and only grab whatever you have at home to drink and eat.
Food: Cool Ideas for Hot Days
From eating outdoors, to growing your own food, and enjoying what’s natural, summer brings plenty of opportunities to change up the menu along with the season.
- Try to avoid using the stove. Who needs all that hot air inside when you can set the table outdoors by the grill? Makes for an easier cleanup, more fun, and less energy use.
- Exercise your greenthumb by planting your own vegetables and spices. You don’t even need a huge yard or plot to do so, a few good sized pots will do. It’s cheaper, healthier, and a rewarding way to round out your meals.
- Skip the expensive, sugary bottled drinks and sodas and make your own sun tea. Fill up a large pitcher with water, add 4 bags of your favorite tea, and leave it out in the sunshine to brew for a few hours. Or just keep cold pitchers of water in the fridge and flavor-up with fresh berries, pineapple, or melon, add slices of cucumber, lemons and limes, or even mint leaves, basil, ginger, or cilantro – not just pretty to look at, but you’ll stay hydrated, cooler and happy to be pocketing a few dollars.
- Buy in bulk. Stock the freezer with frozen vegetables, family-sized meals, ice cream, and popsicles. Hit the produce sale aisle at the supermarket; veggies might have a few dings in them, but still good.
- Take the crew to a pick-your-own farm or orchard and load up baskets with what’s in season.
Cooling: Chill More, Pay Less
The dog days of summer will find you flipping on the fans or the air conditioner, popping your head in the freezer, and taking cold showers. All good quick fixes, but all that extra electrical demand can add up.
- Keep up on the maintenance on your central air system. Air filters can get dirty, trapping air flow and raising costs. Change regularly.
- Use a programmable thermostat to change the temperature during the day. Adjust it for when you’re at work, sleeping, or away on vacation. According to the Department of Energy, you’ll save about 3% on your utility bill for every degree you raise the set temperature.
- With all that natural sunshine, no need to turn on lights until it’s dark out.
- Close shades or curtains during the day to keep out the hot rays, and open back up at night along with windows to let the cooler air circulate throughout your home. Turn on ceiling fans to do the same.
- And don’t discount the cooling effects of a swinging hammock and cold glass of lemonade under a tree.
Don’t Forget All the FREE Stuff!
Easy breezy isn’t just a state of mind come summertime. It can be a cost-effective way of life when you take advantage of FREE opportunities all around you:
- Get Out in Nature: In fact, cancel your gym membership for the summer, or put it on pause until the fall. Bike to work or to run errands. Take a hike in the hills. Stroll down a country lane. Jog around town. Visit a lake or beach for a swim. Nothing beats camping out under the stars.
- Visit the Library: Your library card is gold! It gives you access to all sorts of entertainment, and usually at no extra charge. Check out books for the beach or download ebooks and audio books to store conveniently on your smart device. Stock up on movies and music via CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays. Stop by the children’s story hours and ask about upcoming special events for kids. And don’t forget how quiet and cool libraries can be – a perfect escape during a scorcher. Lastly, free wi-fi!
- Have Fun Like a Local: Get a summer calendar from the Chamber of Commerce or look on their website to find all the things you can do right in your own town: farmers’ markets, outdoor concerts, annual festivals, free admission days at the art museum, and so much more.
Meg Schutte is a Bank of Hope Blog contributor.
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Bank of Hope.