With the summer season in full swing, I find myself planning a lot of fun activities with my girlfriends so I can really soak up this great city and beautiful weather. But without careful consideration, summer plans can really begin to eat away at our bank accounts—and what fun is summer if we’re broke by the time fall kicks in? So here are 7 ways to have fun this summer while making sure you stay in good financial shape.
1. Host a potluck.
Dining out is usually one of most people’s biggest expenses. When you dine out, you pay for your meal, a drink, tax and tip, which can really add up. So instead of meeting your girlfriends for dinner, host a potluck instead. You can choose a theme and have everyone bring a homemade dish. Potlucks are a great way to enjoy everyone’s culinary skills and socialize in a comfortable, intimate setting.
2. Plan a GNO happy hour.
We women love to get together. That’s what we do best. But when you’re trying to watch your money, meeting all your girlfriends one on one can really add up, let alone take up a lot of time! Instead, plan one Girls’ Night Out (GNO) happy hour per month and invite all your girlfriends. That way you cut down on dining-out costs and save time. Pick a local spot with a good happy hour menu and make sure everyone pays for her own food or drink, just like a networking event. Also, don’t assume your different groups of friends won’t get along. What I’ve found in my own monthly GNO happy hours is that friends whom I’d never normally connect end up really hitting it off. I’ve seen time and time again that the connections become fruitful on many levels.
3. Host a movie night at home.
Between tickets, popcorn and drinks, a standard movie date can cost a couple about $50! (Imagine if you had a family of four.) So instead of going out to a movie, plan a movie night at home. Download or rent a movie, have a set start time just like the theaters, and prepare your own tasty and healthy snacks. Not only will you save money, you’ll probably save a lot of calories, too. And who doesn’t want to save calories during bikini season?
4. Get artsy.
A lot of art galleries and museums have certain days and times when exhibits are free to the public. Research your local area, find out the details, and plan a date when you can go get your art on for free.
5. Go on a staycation.
Living in Los Angeles, there are always tons of things to do around the city that I don’t always get to enjoy during the year. So once a year, I plan a week-long staycation and enjoy my city and do as many free touristy things as I possibly can. I keep a running list during the year of cool spots to visit or things to see, and during my staycation week, I just go through the list. You would be amazed at how many things you can do and see for free when you just allow yourself the time to explore your own neighborhood.
6. Use your credit card reward points to pay for airfare.
Travel hacking has become very popular these days. Basically, it’s finding ways to bring down your travel costs as much as possible by hacking as many travel systems as possible. One of the best ways to travel hack is to ensure you’re using your credit card rewards programs or frequent traveler programs the next time you’re booking your summer vacation airfare. Seems basic enough, but so many people never use their credit card points—which means they’re leaving money on the table! If you need help with your own travel hacking, check out my friend Alec Barron’s website for more tips and resources to help you maximize your credit card rewards so you can fly for free. www.youcanflyforfree.com/brittney
7. Book a room using Airbnb.
Airbnb is a great website that allows you to book vacation rentals, private rooms or sublets when traveling. Although some people really enjoy staying in hotels, others may find it more comfortable to stay in a room or someone’s apartment instead, especially if it is for a longer stay. And usually you can get better rates than hotels, especially for longer stays. So definitely check out Airbnb the next time you’re booking a place to stay for your summer vacation.
Now tell us, how are you planning to spend less this summer?
This post was contributed by Brittney Castro, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Founder & CEO of Financially Wise Women, a Los Angeles based financial planning firm for women. She specializes in working with busy professional and entrepreneurial women who are passionate about life and want to gain clarity around their money. Brittney’s mission is to help women plan and create the life of their dreams, free from anxiety about money. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Planning Magazine, Investment News, and Registered Rep Magazine. Visit her at www.financiallywisewomen.com and follow her on Twitter @brittneycastro. Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. California Insurance License #0F33895. Brittney Castro is not affiliated with TheEveryGirl.com.