8 Ways To Save Money Over The Summer, Because It’s Pretty Easy To Spend All Your Dough
Even though you (probably) don't get a summer break anymore, it's easy to behave like you're on vacation all season long. Stopping to pick up a cold brew from your corner coffeeshop can feel like a manageable seasonal indulgence, but all those lattes on ice can add up. Surprisingly, a 2014 survey conducted by eZonomics found that most people say they spend the most money over the summer — even compared to the holiday season. So understandably, there's a bit more of a need for ways to save money over the summer that are different from how you might save money the rest of the year.
"I think there are a few reasons that people spend more in the summertime: Running an air conditioning unit and a fan can increase someone's monthly energy spend, for instance. Additionally, most people take vacations in the summer, which can increase spending," Alicia McElhaney, the founder of She Spends, an organization that works to increase women and nonbinary folks' financial literacy, tells Bustle. Not to mention, with the prices of oil booming, Fortune reported that gas prices could be the highest they've been in four years.
However summer changes your spending habits, there's no denying that financial stress can put a strain on your mental health, and even in your relationships. Meaning that, maintaining a budget and not depleting your savings during the warmer months is super important. Here are eight tips from financial experts that you can use to spend less money over the summer (and maybe even keep up your savings goals).
1. Create A Yearly Budget That Has Extra Padding For Summer Costs
"When people create budgets, they normally do so through a monthly lens. But, the best practice is to save for one off expenses — which may mean a summer vacation, home maintenance, or holiday spending — throughout the whole year, and factor those additional spending opportunities into your year long budget," Alison Norris, a strategy manager for the finance company SoFi, tells Bustle.
2. Keep Money You Want To Save In A Separate Account
Norris explains that keeping money you want to save for a special occasion — like summer vacation— in a separate account from your regular bank account can make you less inclined to spend it. Further, she says to "give that account a nickname like your 'trip to paradise fund,'" so you feel more motivated to keep those funds safe from any tempting splurges you want to make.
3. Turn Down The A/C
Everyone knows air conditioning can be a huge expense during the summer months, so McElhaney suggests being mindful to leave the A/C off during the day. "You can purchase a programmable device that turns on the air conditioner from your phone while you're on the way home, which means your house will be cool when you arrive. Some energy companies [...] offer these products for free."
Of course, if you have any pets, you probably don't have the option to skimp on your air conditioning. But, if it's just you, try this simple trick to cut down on your spending.
4. Enjoy Free Summer Activities
"When we think about some our best childhood experiences during the summer, many of us associate a time with walking outside on the hot sand, chasing fireflies, or staring at the stars at night," says Norris. "There are so many ways to enjoy yourself during the summer, enjoy the outdoors, without spending money — you don't need to spend money to make memories."
If you're unsure of where to start, check out this list of 100 free summertime activities to give you ideas. Money doesn't equate to happiness, and you can make lasting, impactful memories without spending a dime.
5. Take A Staycation
A staycation, aka, a vacation that you take at home, is the perfect way to save money over summer while still relaxing. Norris says, "Often, we travel with aim of recharging our batteries, and having a mental health trip, but sometimes it can be more efficient to stay at home and take care of yourself. Then, you don't also have to spend money on hotels or flights." Another benefit to taking a staycation is using your PTO days that you've accrued — if you don't take advantage of them, it's the same as losing money.
The nice thing about a staycation is you can truly make it whatever you want it to be: Whether you play tourist in the city you live in, catch up summer reading, or transform your home into a spa, your staycation is completely customizable. And, it's way cheaper (and less stressful) than flying to a faraway destination.
6. Scour For Travel Deals
If you live in a land-locked state, a staycation may not cut it during the summertime. But if you do opt to take a vacation-vacation, that doesn't mean you can't figure out ways to save on your trip. "You should know that there's not one designated price for each airline seat," says Norris. "Airlines will often have more than a dozen different prices that you can find on various different websites — a couple ways to lower the price that you pay is to either clear your cookies, or open up another web browser which will often result in a lower price that is quoted to you." Different apps, like Hopper, can help you do this more efficiently.
Further, she adds that you can cancel a flight reservation within 24 hours after booking it, and still get a full refund. That way, if the prices drop, you cancel and reschedule your trip for a lower price.
7. Be Smart About Where You Save On Vacation
A vacation is obviously a much-needed time for indulgence — but that doesn't mean you have to drain your bank account. "When it comes to taking a vacation, determine ahead of time what parts of it you're willing to spend money on, and where you're willing to scrimp," says McElhaney. "Maybe you're taking a trip to New York City, for instance. It's likely that you'll want to pay for interesting meals out, and maybe shop some. Allocate your resources accordingly, and pull back on spending for transportation and lodging. You won't be in your hotel or Airbnb much anyway!"
Breaking the bank on vacation and coming home broke won't help you keep that sense of relaxation and peace you fostered on you trip, anyways.
8. Cook More
As CNBC reported in 2017, research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed the average U.S. household spends $3,008 annually on eating out at restaurants — which could probably pay for a tropical vacation a couple times over. "Instead of going out to eat, a tip to reduce cost is to start a supper club you can take turns hosting with your friends — choosing different themes along the way, and encouraging people to keep their cash," Norris suggests.
Moreover, McElhaney says that, "Instead of brunch or spendy patio bars, invite your friends to a potluck in the park. If you each pitch in, you'll have a full, yummy meal (and even booze!), but the cost won't creep up." Take advantage of all the in-season produce and teach yourself a few adventurous recipes, and you'll save a surprising amount without feeling like you're limiting yourself.
When it comes down to it, saving money over the summer can be made way more manageable by just being more mindful about where your money's going. Enjoying the season doesn't mean you have to break your budget, and it could even be a way to reset your spending habits for the rest of the year. Just don't scrimp on sunscreen.