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As you dive into summer activities and vacations, you may find that you’re swiping your credit cards more freely than you have been throughout the past year, especially amid the loosened COVID protocols and restrictions. Although vacations and social activities come with a price tag, your summer fun doesn’t need to put a dent in your savings or force you to put other financial goals on hold. Here are eight tips to help you financially stay on track this summer:
1. Evaluate your financial life. Take an honest look at your current financial situation, especially your spending. If you are already pushing the envelope on your expenses and cost of living, consider where you can make adjustments to ensure any summer travels do not set you back when it comes to your savings goals and retirement savings. Effective budgeting applies to all levels of wealth, and you want to be aware of where your money is going every month.
2. Make a vacation budget. You’ve earned your time away to explore and relax, but it’s never fun to return from a trip and feel like you need to get back on track with your financial life after over-spending on vacation. If you have a kitchen in your hotel room or Airbnb, etc., consider packing lunches before you hit the beach or park for the day and cooking dinner a few nights to knock out some of those pricey restaurant charges.
3. Pay attention to your thermostat. Before you depart for vacation, make sure you set the temperature slightly higher – no need to pay for air conditioning when there’s no one in the house! On a normal week, even consider setting your thermostat a bit higher during the day when you’re at work or out and about, and then adjusting the temperature to your liking when you’re back home for the evening.
4. Make sure your saving is automatic. If you manually transfer money into your savings and retirement accounts each month, make this process automatic, so you don’t cut back on how much you’re saving to compensate for higher spending in the summer months.
5. Build up an emergency fund. You’re unable to take care of things around the house while you are miles away on vacation, and you don’t want to return home to find your basement flooded after a big storm or your pet needing an unforeseen visit to the vet. Additionally, you may try new activities while you’re out exploring that could result in an unexpected and costly hospital visit. Having an emergency fund built up and set aside for any surprise expenses can help put your mind at ease and allow you to fully enjoy your summer plans.
6. Look for deals. You know, vacations always come with a price tag, so take the time to reasonably determine the amount you are comfortable spending and stick to that number. This may involve more research on your end, but your future self will thank you. Stay flexible with your vacation dates, if possible, as certain weeks may be cheaper to travel than others. Scoring a cheap flight or hotel can also free up more funds from your overall trip budget for other activities. Overall, scoring a bargain feels good and is worth the extra planning effort!
7. Don’t forget about your bills. Before vacation mode commences, make sure you have taken care of any payments and bills that are due while you are away. You don’t want to expose yourself to unnecessary risk by having to log into your financial accounts via a public or an unsecured Wi-Fi network. Moreover, you want to enjoy your vacation to the fullest, sans worry of late bill payments.
8. Keep prioritizing debt payoff. While your expenses may go up at times throughout the summer with vacations and weekend getaways, do not hit the pause button on your debt payments and balances to compensate for the seasonal spending. You don’t want to feel like you are digging yourself into a financial hole as a result of your summer fun, and solving for the immediate future can result in a setback or derailment of long-term financial success. Keep your debt payments and bills a top priority.
No matter what price tag your summer plans are flashing, these tips can help you stay on track with your financial goals now and throughout the rest of the year. Determining a healthy financial balance in your day-to-day life is key to your long-term financial health, happiness, and success. Enjoy the summer months and your travels to the fullest, while making prudent financial decisions along the way. Your fall and winter budgets will thank you.