If you’ve got that sinking feeling that life is getting more expensive, you’re not alone. With prices at the pump and cash registers soaring, you might be scrambling to reduce your family’s expenses. Don’t panic — it’s still possible to have an awesome summer on a budget. Check out these tips to plan, save, and make the most of the summer season.
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1. Make a family budget
It can be easy to overspend on summer fun, particularly when you’re a parent. Birthday parties, pool days, and picnics can add up quickly if you aren’t careful. Creating a budget is the best way to keep track of your spending.
As a family, take the time to assess your cash flow and determine if and where you can cut back on expenses. To build your budget and stay organized, use an Excel spreadsheet or budgeting app. This is a great opportunity to teach your children valuable personal finance lessons and money habits as well.
2. Have a summer savings plan
If you’re hoping to save this summer, it’s important to set goals for what you’re tucking away. Are you looking to grow your emergency fund, save to buy your first family home, or even pay down your student loan debt? The benefits of planning now are twofold. You’ll know how much you need to save, as well as stay motivated to do it.
To help get you started, here are a few low-stress ways to save during the warm summer months:
Trim your grocery bill
The simplest way to track your grocery spending is to create a shopping list and meal plan. These strategies will help you avoid spending money on products you don’t need.
Save energy at home
Lowering your utility bills is another way to save. Some energy-saving options, like upgrading your HVAC system or installing home solar panels, can cost a lot up front, but often have long-term benefits. Don’t rule them out immediately. There are plenty of low-cost or free options to lower your family’s energy usage as well. For example, only use the air conditioner when absolutely necessary or turn off the lights and minimize the use of water.
You don’t always have to buy brand new! Look at thrift stores, secondhand stores, or even summer garage sales to find quality items for cheap. Kids’ clothes, shoes, books, and toys don’t have to break the bank.
3. Choose to staycation
While it can be tempting to pair the arrival of summer with a fancy vacation, it’s often not the most wallet-friendly choice. You don’t have to travel far to have fun! If you’re looking to enjoy a “vacation” without spending so much, consider staycationing.
What you do on your staycation will depend on your budget. It can be free, like pitching a tent in your backyard and watching movies as a family or you could choose to spend a little and visit the zoo, an amusement park, or water slides. If you decide to go on a mini-vacation to break up the fun at home, think beyond hotels as your place to stay. Airbnbs and campgrounds are trendy alternatives that could be cheaper too.
Summer and spending often go hand-in-hand. As a parent, it can be extra daunting (and expensive) to have your kids out of school. Try these tips to ease the financial burden of summer, and then use them as a guide to help you into the fall.