We are already well into the summer season, but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy all that this time of year has to offer. Whether you want to take your family to the beach for a week, or you’d settle for some day trips here and there, some extra money could do us all some good right now.
Here are our top 7 tips for saving money for summer.
Create a Monthly Budget
We will say it until we are blue in the face: creating a monthly budget is the best way to get a hold on your finances. Not only will it help you track what your expenses are, but it will help you see what areas you can cut down. Here’s a quick guide to building your budget:
- Determine your income. Look at all of your income for the month. Include your paycheck (minus any taxes and 401k contributions), plus any side hustle money you may have. Rental properties, dividends–whatever may give you some extra income, include it in your income.
- Categorize your expenses. There are two types of expenses that everyone has: variable and invariable. Your invariable expenses are costs that stay the same every month, like your rent, insurance, and internet bill. Your variable expenses are costs that change every month, like your groceries, electric bill, and entertainment expenses.
- Calculate your expenses. Once you categorize them, try to calculate averages the best you can. Use receipts from the past 6-12 months to ballpark your variable expenses.
- Make a plan. Now that you know your incoming and your outgoing, you know whether or not you are making enough money to cover your expenses. If you are not, look for things to cut out of your expenses (such as subscriptions, take-out, and brand name products). You want to come up with a plan for your income, such as the 50/30/20 model. In this model, 50% of your income is allocated for needs, 30% is allocated for wants, and 20% is put into savings. There are many variations on this, so do your research and see what works for you.
- Enter summer expenses as a line item. Try to ballpark how much you think you will need for your summer plans. Do you need $800 for a day at the amusement park with your family? Do you need $3000 for that summer rental you;ve been eyeing up? Whatever your plans for summer are, try to build them into your budget.
Set Limits in Advance
Setting limits on your vacation goes hand in hand with creating a budget. Determine how much you can reasonably spend on your summer plans. It can be helpful to allocate “bonus money” such as a tax refund or credit card cash back rewards towards your vacation.
Check Out Free Activities
There are loads of free activities all over the country. Try to be creative with your summer activities and take advantage of these activities when you can. Here are a few free and fun activities you can try out:
- Go on a hike
- Visit the library
- Visit a local museum
- Go to a county fair
- Go to the park
- Attend a free workout class
- Go to the beach
- Go to a parade
In addition, there are a lot of cheap options as well. They aren’t free, but they won’t break the bank:
- Go to the movies
- Go to a minor league baseball game
- Go to the zoo
- Go to the aquarium
Keep an eye out on Facebook or in your local paper to see what events are going on in the community. Chances are you can find a cheap and fun activity for every summer weekend.
Refinance Your Car
If you are trying to free up some money for your summer, refinancing your car loan is a great way to do so. By refinancing your car loan, you can get a lower car loan APR and save hundreds if not thousands of dollars every year. You can also choose to extend your repayment period, thus drastically lowering your monthly payments. This can be a great way to save for your summer activities without dipping into any savings.
And the best news is, refinancing your car loan is super easy if you use Auto Approve. We have relationships with lenders across the country, so we can get you the most competitive rates available. All you have to do is fill out some basic information, and our qualified experts will help you compare offers from across the country. They will even help you with all of the paperwork! So if you are overpaying every month on your car loan (and you probably are), consider an auto loan refinance and use some of those savings to fund your best summer yet.
Use Cash and Not Credit
Using cash will help you limit how much money you spend. If you tell yourself that you have $200 to spend throughout the day, you will be much more conscious about what you are purchasing. It is all too easy to keep swiping your card, and those expenses will add up quickly. Using cash will force you to think through your expenses and edit your purchases.
If You Must Use Credit, Be Smart About It
That said, if you have to use credit or really don’t like the idea of carrying cash on you, be smart about your credit choices. Be sure to use a credit card that has a good cash back program so that you can make money on your purchases.
Get Creative with Childcare
Let’s face it: childcare is expensive. And in the summer, it can be really hard to coordinate childcare while you are working. If you are lucky enough to have family nearby, ask them to pitch in a day or two a week while you are working. If that’s not an option, see if you can go in on a shared sitter with some friends, so you can all shoulder the burden together. If there is an affordable summer camp, that can be a great option as well. If your kids are a bit older, look into a virtual summer camp which can provide activities while keeping costs low. This can save a bit more money for your family time together.
And those are our top tips for saving money for summer.
Summer should be a time to have fun and unwind, not stress about money. We hope these tips can help you enjoy your summer to the fullest. Just remember to budget accordingly and set limits on spending – and if you can, refinance your car loan with Auto Approve to save a lot more money!