Just because summer break is here, it doesn’t mean you can take a break from your budget. Summer presents a number of opportunities to overspend whether that be on vacations, renovations to your home, or maybe even on that new toy, like the boat or Seadoo you’ve had your eye on to enhance your summer experience. These are expenses that people typically postpone throughout winter, knowing that they want to make the most of the summer months. However, sometimes while wearing their rose-coloured sunglasses, people can lose sight of their financial situation and end up in – or in more debt – by the time summer is over.
Planning ahead with a budget is key to avoiding post-summer overspending stress. To help you get started with your summer budget, follow these tips:
- Take advantage of tech. Use the ease and convenience of a budgeting app like Mint. It’s a free app that you can download to your phone and will help you stick to your budget this summer.
- Build your budget. Calculate your available cash each month by figuring out how much is left over after you deduct your household expenses, all your financial commitments (i.e. car payment) and debt payments from your sources of income. Ideally, you would want to see surplus funds available along with cash in the bank that will be more than enough to cover your summer expenses without relying on credit. If you are just breaking even with your income and expenses or you’re budget shows a deficit, in that your expenses exceed available income those months, you’ll have to adjust your summer plans to be more realistic on what you can afford.
- Whip up a wish list. Make a list of the things you would like to do in July and August. Maybe it’s purchasing concert tickets, going camping, a home renovation or sitting on a restaurant patio every weekend. Whatever your list may be, prioritize the activities according to your desire to do them and make sure to include the cost of each. Remember, it is important to realize that you may not have the financial ability to do everything on your list.
- Tailor to your top three. Narrow down your wish list to the top three things you’d like to do this summer. Before you make your final list, estimate the costs that will be associated with each activity, e.g., gas and food if it’s a road trip, and be prepared to set that money aside. Adjust your monthly budget for July and August to reflect the added costs. If your budget can’t afford those new costs, you may have to reconsider your top three. Remember, it’s okay to use credit to fund your summer plans only if you aren’t already carrying a credit card balance or if you have a plan in place to pay down what you use in full within 1-2 months of receiving your credit card statement.
Families with children can save money during the summer, too.
- Summer day camps are great for working parents and offer a variety of themes and learning experiences from sports to art and sciences that keep kids busy during the summer months. However, some camps can come with a large price tag and add financial stress to the household. Keep in mind, it doesn’t hurt to inquire about discounts for siblings and early registration and make sure to check out affordable options through your city and local YMCA.
- Instead of heading out to the movie theatre where a child’s ticket is $10, plus popcorn, have a special movie night at home. Add an extra layer of fun by re-arranging your living room seating to make it more comfy or build a blanket fort and watch the movie underneath on a laptop.
- Head outdoors to free parks within the community and pack a picnic to keep costs low. Try camping in your own backyard. Set up a tent on the lawn, star gaze, make s’mores in the oven and save money without sacrificing family fun!
If you’ve started the summer struggling with debt, now is not the time to use your money elsewhere. It’s important to deal with your financial situation right away and not postpone it until September. Speak to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to get informed of the options available to you to help resolve your situation.