Is Your Budget Cool for the Summer?

Have you had a chance to plan your summer spending budget? After a particularly long winter, Canadians are definitely in need of some summer fun. But it’s easy to get carried away. Summer often means more socializing, more activities and more getaways that make it harder to stick to a budget. It’s the time of year when FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) is at an all-time high.

According to a recent survey, summer is the second most expensive time of year. It’s not hard to see why. When school’s out, childcare obligations weigh on family budgets and parents are eager to take advantage of their kids’ vacation time to book a family getaway.

But there’s more to it, right? Summer has a way of lightening our moods, making us generally more carefree and less frugal. We get it. More than half of Canadians admit to being less careful with their spending during the summer months. We recently did a Twitter poll about where people are most likely to splurge this summer.

Being able to divide your summer spending into different buckets is helpful. If you’re overspending in one area, you can trim somewhere else. You can also focus your time and money on the activities that bring you the most joy and the most value. Enjoying life and living within your means is all about finding balance. If you can achieve this, you can hang on to that summer cheer all year round. What’s cooler than that?

On that note, here are some ideas to keep in mind for the next few months.

Add staycationing to your summer spending arsenal

When you think about it, summer should be the cheapest season to have fun. You can enjoy most activities for free and you don’t have to go far to enjoy great weather. It’s why staycationing is a growing trend.

Sure, going away can be great: a change in scenery can free you from your day-to-day responsibilities and get you into that vacation headspace. But it comes at a cost that’s often put on credit. Not to mention the stress of travelling at the most expensive time of year.

Staycationing means transforming yourself into a tourist in your own city. It takes a little effort and planning, but it can be just as enjoyable as going away. Here are some great tips from MyMoneyCoach.ca. The trick is to schedule variety in your staycation: relaxation (you deserve to lounge around a bit), fun (do what you love) and discovery (take the time to try new things).

Compromise with your means, needs and wants

The art of living within your means while still having fun is rooted in compromise. Your desires, on the one hand, and your means, on the other, should meet each other halfway. Every healthy relationship has some give-and-take.

For example, if you long for romantic evenings on a restaurant patio, organize a picnic at a fraction of the price. Rather than taking the whole family out to dinner, opting for a trip to the ice cream parlour is a welcome treat that won’t break the bank. This way you’re still doing fun and exciting things, but are avoiding the guilt-trip that comes with overspending.

The art of compromise can be applied to all sorts of spending decisions. Is the warmer weather enticing you to make some new purchases, like new patio furniture or a new summer outfit? Check out the local thrift stores. The thrill of the find is more fun and eco-friendly than buying new stuff that you’ll most likely end up replacing anyway.

Group travel is a summer spending trick from the pros

If you’re planning on going away this summer or next, have you ever thought about adding some more people to the party? It could be a great way to consolidate your time with friends or family and your time away. It’s also a lot cheaper. Renting a cottage when you’re eight people as opposed to four will cut costs significantly. You can also share the cost and labour of food preparation.

As with most travel, preparation and learning from others peoples’ mistakes are key. Travelling with friends or family, if they’re not into the same things, can lead to more headaches than peaceful downtime. It’s important to vacation with people whom you know well and who share similar interests. Here’s a wonderful and informative read about a group of “floppers” who travel to far-flung destinations they could never afford without the help of their friends.

Automate those bill payments and avalanche those debts

Time flies when you’re having fun. This can make it easier to forget about the boring things like payment due dates. Indeed, the last thing you want to happen is to return to reality with a bunch of unpaid bills. Do yourself a favour: automate bill payments and saving contributions before going away. You’ll be able to carry more of that summertime happiness into the future.

Another good idea is to take some time to think about your debt repayment strategy. If interest is what’s worrying you most, try the avalanche method. Keep making the minimum payments on all your debts, but allocate more funds to the debts with the highest interest rates, like credit cards. Once this is paid off you can move on to your next most expensive type of debt.

How are you planning to keep track of your summer spending? Join our conversation on Facebook or on Twitter #SummerSpending #FinancialWellness