With restrictions easing and temperatures rising, the desire to get out and have some summer fun is impossible to ignore. However, it’s important to not ignore your budget at the same time. To get some ideas, we enlisted the help of Certified Financial Planner, Cindy Marques. As the Co-Founder and CEO of MakeCents, a company that offers financial wellness advice and coaching, we couldn’t think of anyone more qualified to lead us into a summer that balances saving money with having fun.
1) Plan low-cost activities.
Use the nicer weather to your advantage and plan inexpensive outdoor activities. “Pandemic lockdowns have gotten us used to spending our free time outdoors, so why stop now?” suggests Marques.
For rainy days or chilly nights, the pandemic has also revived another inexpensive activity: game night. Gather a few friends or family members, in person or virtually, and get set for some fun, friendly competition.
Nature doesn’t cost a thing. Have a picnic, spend the day at a beach, or go for a walk.
2) Put your savings on autopilot.
In summer, things should be easy, and this includes savings. Marques recommends a save first, spend later approach in the form of automatic savings deductions. “Even if it’s just a small amount each week, this is a sure-fire way to build your savings without even noticing,” she explains. “Future you wants a great life and present you needs to foot the bill.” If you haven’t already started this practice, summer is a great time to start. Temptation to get out and do activities is high, so before you commit, it’s good to know what you have to spend after your savings are accounted for first.
3) Enjoy a meal that won’t blow your budget.
Socializing over dinner and drinks with friends is a beloved activity year-round, but it becomes extra appealing with the introduction of patios and warmer summer nights. While we want to support restaurants and small businesses that may have been shuttered during the pandemic, it’s important to find a balance.
Marques suggests cutting costs by dining out during happy hour or hosting a potluck where you ask guests to bring their favorite snack, side, or appetizer. “Chances are, you’re going to have a lot more fun in your own backyard than you will on a restaurant patio.”
4) Leave your credit card at home.
When you do go out in summer, our financial expert recommends purposefully leaving your credit card out of your wallet, especially if you carry a credit card balance. “Credit cards make it very easy to overspend,” says Marques, who suggests bringing your debit card, or better yet, a fixed amount of cash instead.
The pain of watching your bank account or the cash in your wallet decrease can keep your spending in check.
5) Think of your time as money.
Marques suggests a subtle mindset shift to change how you think about spending that she says makes all the difference. “Before you make a big purchase, think to yourself, ‘How much of my time and effort do I need to spend working to cover the cost of this?' Does 4 hours of work earning $25/h feel like a good trade-off for that new pair of jeans? Would you be equally satisfied in being paid with a pair of jeans for 4 hours of work? It really helps you to curb your spending when you can help yourself see the other side of the spending story and what that means in terms of earning that money.”
Lowering your utility bills is another great way to save money this summer. Our smart thermostats can help you save up to 26%* on your heating and cooling costs. To learn even more about saving, check out our blog on How to Conserve More Energy This Summer.
* Compared to a hold of 72°F/22°C.
About Cindy Marques
Cindy Marques is a Certified Financial Planner and the co-Founder of MakeCents, a Financial Wellness company. MakeCents helps ambitious Millennials who are undertaking major life changes make sense of their money so that they can take control of their finances and live life on their own terms.