Career & Finance

Summer Is Expensive: Here’s How to Prep Your Wallet for It

money tips"
money tips
Source: @ksu-eli-studio | Pexels
Source: @ksu-eli-studio | Pexels

Summer may be the season of relaxation, sun-kissed skin, and hot temperatures, but it’s also the second most expensive season after the winter holidays. It makes sense when you think about it. After all, all the summer activities and festivities—the daytime outings and late nights, celebrations, and vacations—add up quickly. And at the end of the day, we’re all liable to fall victim to the frenzied excitement of the season and miss the consequential effects it has on our finances. That being said, despite the fact that summer is right around the corner, you don’t have to stress. With a little bit of preparation and a few helpful money tips, you can still get the full summer experience without messing with your wallet. Keep on reading to learn our best money tips to make sure your finances are ready for summer.

1. Take inventory of your finances

In order to make sure you’re financially prepared for summer, you first need to know what you’re working with. Take inventory of your current financial situation by calculating the total amount of your living expenses, any debt you’re paying off, and what you’re setting aside to deposit into a savings account or investments. Once you have that number, subtract it from your income. This will give you a general idea of how much money you’ll have left over to spend as you wish this summer.

In addition, take the time to examine your spending patterns. Refer to credit card statements, bills, receipts, and bank statements to do this. These visuals will show you where your money’s going, which you can then use to find more effective ways to redirect your money to fit into your summer spending. For example, if you see a lot of takeout purchases on your credit card, you can start making more meals at home and use the extra money for weddings coming up this season.

2. Make small lifestyle changes now

Look at your expenses and see if there’s anything you can cut out or places you can cut back in for the time being. For example, if you’re an avid reader, take advantage of your local library. You can borrow pretty much any book that’s ever been published (whether it’s a hardcover, e-book, or audiobook), save hundreds of dollars, and witness your tax dollars being put to good use. Making small changes now and throughout the summer will give you more flexibility to go out on a whim because you’ll have more to spend. Something as simple as canceling your gym membership and exercising outdoors instead or refraining from grabbing coffee on the way to work and opting to make it at home can make a big difference.

3. Check in on your savings and debt payments

The last thing you want to do is continuously pull from your emergency fund to float your summer lifestyle (been there, done that). So find out how much you have saved up now. From there, figure out a baseline number (say you have $10k saved up; your baseline could be $8k) that you don’t want to dip below. Having a baseline will help ensure you’re making regular contributions to your savings and not spending money recklessly. Whatever amount you decide on, make sure it’s enough to cushion the blow in case of an emergency; the general rule of thumb is to have at least 3-6 months’ worth of expenses saved up.

4. Assess your debt

Having debt looming over your head can make it difficult to sleep at night, so if there’s any small debt you can pay off now, do so. This can help alleviate some of that pressure and allow for more flexibility in your spending throughout the season. If you’re paying off large amounts of debt, consider using a debt payoff app to get more organized before summer starts. Tally is a great option for those paying off a lot of credit card debt, while ChangEd is a good option for those paying off student loans. These are just two examples, so be sure to do your due diligence and research. It’s always important to know exactly what you’re signing up for.

5. Go on a spending cleanse

A spending cleanse is one of the best money tips that can help you improve your budgeting skills and save up a bit extra. For a week or two (whatever works best for you) before summer hits, refrain from spending money on anything but necessities. This is a very productive way to challenge yourself to be better with money and will inadvertently force you to create healthier money habits. It’ll also open your eyes to any unnecessary purchases you’ve been making over the years. Paying for Uber when you already pay for the metro? Cut it out, girlfriend.

6. Look at what you have penciled in

Check your calendar for any upcoming events and celebrations you already have penciled in—like birthdays, cookouts, weddings, baby showers, and so on and so forth. Doing this ahead of time will help prevent any unwanted, last-minute financial surprises from putting a dent in your finances. Plus, it makes planning your summer budget a lot easier.

Once you know what you have penciled in, calculate a rough estimate of how much each event will cost. Which events do you need to buy gifts for and how much can you realistically spend? How much will the drinks and food cost for any parties you attend? Getting everything in order now will not only make budgeting easier, but it will also give you a better idea of how much you’ll have to spend when all is said and done.

7. Swap out your old budget for your new summer one

Much like makeup and fashion trends are swapped out each season, budgets need to be as well. After you’ve completed the steps mentioned above, you can get to work creating your summer budget. This will replace your current budgeting plan, and you can make it by hand, on a spreadsheet or template, or through a budgeting app, like Goodbudget, Mint, or Cleo.

Within your summer budget, make sure to account for the following things:

  • Enough money to comfortably pay for living expenses
  • Contributions to savings and outstanding debt
  • The costs of any planned events or celebrations
  • A small amount that can be used for unplanned surprises, like a random night out

8. Talk to friends and family about summer spending

Gone are the days when talking about money was taboo. Now more than ever, people are talking about their finances with friends, family members, and really, anyone who is willing to listen. This year’s Loud Budgeting trend taught us that we should proudly own our finances and be unapologetic and honest about what we’re willing to spend money on. Before summer starts, talk to the people closest to you about where your finances lie and how you plan on managing your money throughout the season. You can even ask them about what money tips they rely on during a busy summer.

Instead of making excuses about why you can’t go to a concert, proudly communicate that you are using your money elsewhere instead—like at a wedding you have the following weekend. Not only does talking about your budget make you more likely to stick to it, but it will also let others know that you’re not just ditching them. You’re being more mindful with your spending during the summertime, and hopefully, they respect and understand that.

9. Create a summer activity vision board

Manifest the summer of your dreams that doesn’t mess with your money by creating a vision board full of fun, inexpensive summer activities. Look up any upcoming summer events—like art festivals, street strolls, carnivals, etc.—going on where you live or in any nearby cities and towns. A lot of these types of events are usually free or very inexpensive. Visiting public beaches, parks, or hiking trails are also fun and inexpensive ways to get into the summer spirit.

On the flip side, keep in mind that despite the beautiful weather, you don’t always have to be out and about. In fact, there are tons of ways to fully embrace summer right from the comfort of your own home. Besides, what better way to embrace the laid-back vibe of the season than relaxing in your space? Grab a bottle of rosé, whip up a charcuterie board, and invite some people over to hang outside or relax in the A.C. Enjoy some pizza and champagne and watch the sunset, or go stargazing with your significant other. When the weather is nice, the options are endless.

Having a vision board filled with fun and inexpensive summer activities and ideas will help keep you from overspending and give you something to turn to for guidance throughout the season. Summer is the time to feel young, wild, and carefree, so don’t be afraid to have fun and get creative with your ideas. Remember that at the end of the day, making memories and having an unforgettable summer doesn’t have to come at a cost to your finances.