Canadian summers are synonymous with barbeques, beaches, and a well-deserved break from school, work and harsh winter weather. However, this year, Canadians should add another “b-word” to their summertime priorities: budget. With the cost of living continuing to rise across the country, more Canadians have reassessed their spending habits to make ends meet, including the cost of their summer activities.
After two summers filled with restrictions, you may be excited to go all out on summertime fun. But remember that a vacation isn’t nearly as relaxing if you come back saddled with debt. That’s why it’s important to save money ahead of time and budget accordingly so you can fully enjoy your favourite summer activities. Thanks to years of working in the finance industry and planning various family vacations of my own, I’ve found ways to cut costs throughout the summer to save for warm-weather adventures.
1. Plant a garden
Gardening is a great summer activity for the whole family. It’s a way to enjoy the nice weather while giving your kids an opportunity to learn. It’s also a great way to save some money. This year, consider incorporating vegetables, fruit, and herbs into your garden. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, a couple of sprigs of basil and a few tomatoes can save you money and trips to the grocery store. If you want to take it a step further, you can even dry, can or freeze your produce and keep the savings going into the fall. Better yet, you can harvest seeds from this year’s bounty and do it all again next spring for an even lower upfront cost!
2. Have a potluck meal
Everyone loves those summer patio dinners and drinks, but those big bills at the end can bring the mood down. Fortunately, being on a budget doesn’t mean missing out on time with family and friends. Instead of going to restaurants, consider having a backyard barbeque or potluck. Ask your friends to bring their favourite drinks and dishes for everyone to share. Not only do you save money by not paying restaurant prices, but you can try a wider variety of foods, learn something new about your friends and maybe even gain some leftovers.
3. Try to cut down on gas
With increasing gas prices, filling up our vehicles has become a large monthly expense. With summer road trips on the horizon, it’s smart to save on gas wherever possible. To cut costs, consider carpooling on those big road trips or when travelling to sporting events and day camps. Consider taking turns with a colleague or friend when heading to work. If you live in town, you could try biking or walking to some of your weekly errands; you can avoid paying for expensive parking, and you might even get around faster. Not to mention the opportunity to go a little slower and notice parts of the city you might not have seen from your car.
4. Get a side gig
With the tourist season in full swing, there are many summer-exclusive job opportunities across the country. Though you might think summer jobs are only for students, that’s simply not the case. If you can’t pick up part-time hours, look for “as willing” job opportunities that you can do in the summer months, like yard work and babysitting, or even capitalizing on things you already enjoy like gardening, baking or crafts. Picking up a few odd jobs might not cover your rent, but they can help put a few extra dollars aside for your summer vacation.
5. Maximize loyalty program savings
All sorts of chain stores, and even some local grocery stores, offer point cards or loyalty programs. These might not seem like much, but a little bit can go a long way. For example, if you buy groceries at the same store every week, why not work towards getting free breakfast cereal for the kids or a prepackaged lunch for yourself? If you want to go the extra step, you can look into larger rewards programs or credit cards that offer points or cash back. Some credit card and reward program points can even be exchanged for free travel benefits like hotel stays, discounted experiences and flights! Always be careful when signing up for new credit cards and thoroughly read the terms of service before signing. Getting to your next vacation a little faster isn’t worth racking up unintended credit card debt.
If you are struggling to make ends meet or find it difficult paying off your credit cards or any other form of debt, our Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LIT) are here to help. An LIT can help you renegotiate your debt with your creditors through a consumer proposal so you can get back on your feet financially. If debt has been holding you back, use this summer to get on track by booking your free, no-judgement consultation today.