Summer of Savings

Summer of SavingsSummer brings so many opportunities and so many challenges every year – and the exciting possibility to get your finances back under control, after over-spending on Christmas and other winter holidays. You can still have fun all summer long, even if you need to cut the costs: a few adjustments here and there are all that’s needed to keep your budget in line, and still make the most of the wonderful weather and longer daytime.

Prepare your vacation budget. If you have children, discuss the budget with them before leaving home, establish a daily or weekly allowance for the vacation period (daily is better for younger children, to avoid the risk of spending everything on day one) that they can use to buy treats and souvenirs. If you haven’t booked an early deal, it’s probably best to wait for the last minute offers, where you may find some great discounts, as the tour operators and hotels are trying to fill up their last places before the season is over.

Take it outside. The weather is nice, the sun is shining, so turn off the TV and the computer and spend more time outdoors. Cancel your gym subscription, and go jogging instead. Leave your car in the garage, and walk to work, if possible, or take the bike.

Go for local produce. Winter doesn’t offer a wide selection in the grocery department, and you probably ate a lot of canned products and fatty foods. But summer brings joy for the taste buds, and a wonderful mixture of flavors and colors, so buy raw, and buy local produce – it’s cheaper, healthier, and tastier than anything that could possibly fit in a can.

Cut the soda. It’s by far the most dangerous, fattening thing you put in your stomach, and it’s expensive as well. Drink plenty of water, or make ice tea at home instead.

Stop buying ice. Seriously. Yes, it’s summer time, you need ice frequently, but it’s ridiculously expensive, for something you can easily make at home. If you keep your freezer plugged in (and you probably do, since it’s summer and a lot of food spoils quickly), you can have ice ready all the time, with no additional cost. Just plan in advance.

Be prepared for the summer school break. Kids will have a lot of free time on their hands, and that means a lot of time to figure out what items they want and which toys they don’t have yet. The best quality family fun is free, or almost free – all you need is a board game, or some playing cards, and you can keep yourself and the children busy for hours on end. This, obviously, means that you have to make sure you have some free time of your own, so try to cut on the long hours at work.

Throw low-cost parties, instead of going out with your friends. If you have a yard, organize barbecues, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on them, either. You can ask all the guests to bring chip in or to bring something already made. Don’t over-spend on meat. Many assume it’s the only attraction of the barbecue – but it’s both unhealthy and expensive, so balance it with plenty of vegetables. Also, don’t go out of your way to offer every possible type of liquor for your guests. Punch is often the best idea, and everybody loves it.

Insulate your home for the winter. Now it’s the right moment to do that, as you will find materials at a fraction of the autumn costs. You will be thankful for this decision when  the blizzard starts, so don’t delay it. On the same note, avoid buying air conditioning in summer – just put in on your list of investments to make in winter, when your budget will already be in a better shape, thanks to the heating bill reduced by the insulation.