5 Ways To Stop Summer From Wrecking Your Monthly Budget

5 Ways To Stop Summer From Wrecking Your Monthly Budget

Summer is fundamentally different from the rest of the year for most families, because children are out of school, and activities beckon that you can't do other times of the year. Summertime expenses can accumulate quickly and wreck your monthly budget. But don't worry. With planning, you can rein in summer expenses and keep your monthly budget on track. Here are 5 ways to stop summer from wreaking havoc with your finances.

1. Have a Summer Snack Strategy

Whether you have kids or not, summer often means more day trips and recreational activity, and the cost of snacks can really add up if you don't plan. On road trips, take snacks for the road rather than buying them en route. Buying granola bars, pretzels, nuts, and soft drinks ahead of time and packing a cooler is more work up front, but can save you significant money compared to visiting convenience stores and fast food restaurants. If your neighborhood has an ice cream truck, let kids know up front what you will and won't pay for. You could, for example, buy each kid something from the ice cream truck once a week, and anything beyond that comes from their allowance.

2. Keep AC Use Under Control

If you have a back yard, you can use an umbrella style clothes line rather than running your hot dryer indoors. Ones with tripod bases can be staked to the ground with tent stakes and taken up again in winter.

If you haven't replaced incandescent light bulbs with energy saving bulbs, replace each old bulb with an energy efficient bulb when it burns out. They consume far less energy and emit less heat.

Air conditioning can easily account for over 40% of your utility bill, but you can help it run more efficiently by cleaning or replacing the intake filter to improve system air flow. Small fans or ceiling fans can circulate air in large rooms, and planting landscape features that help keep your home cool pay out long term in terms of keeping your home cooler and increasing its resale value.

Start now: Budgeting software from Mint helps you customize your monthly budget for summer fun. Click to get started.

3. Become Local Tourists

Vacations are expensive, and some years you simply can't afford one, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy summer. Day trips to local lakes, riverfronts, or beaches can fulfill your need for recreation without costing a lot. You'll save gas money you would have spent on a serious road trip (let alone the cost of airline tickets), and save on lodging. Many local and state parks have picnic areas and grills for public use, so you could even invite friends and host a summer cookout that lets everyone get away for awhile.

4. Save on Kids' Birthday Party Costs

There's no need to try to outdo friends or neighbors who host over-the-top kids' birthday parties, particularly with younger kids. A simple party at your house with games, cake, and free play time can be every bit as satisfying to the birthday boy or girl and the guests. Kids (and parents) will be downing cake and snacks without paying much attention to the "theme" of the paper plates and napkins, and dollar stores are great sources for party ware, decorations, gift wrap, and invitations.

Cake is a judgment call. If the goal is a delicious cake, it's hard to beat homemade. But some kids want a "theme" cake. If you're up to the task, home-decorated cakes can be charming and memorable. If not, compare prices at local bakeries and grocery stores. A small "theme" cake plus pretty cupcakes can save over the cost of a large theme cake.

5. Save on Birthday Parties Your Kids Attend

First of all, take the RSVP seriously. It's far easier on the host / hostess if you say up front whether you can or can't attend. It's OK to ask the host for gift ideas. After all, you want to send a gift that will be enjoyed. If a suggested gift is out of your price range, consider something in the same theme, at a lower price point. Gift wrap is cheapest at dollar stores, and is often available in a large range of styles. If your kids are attending with friends whose parents you know, ask another parent if they about carpooling, with one of you dropping off and the other picking up.

Summer is a time to relax, and there are plenty of things to do, but you don't have to wreck your monthly budget to have a great summer. Using great budget software like Mint helps you adapt your budget to the changing seasons and stay on track year-round.

Start now: Budgeting software from Mint helps you customize your monthly budget for summer fun. Click to get started.

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