What’s warm, sunny, and costs a fortune? Summer. Or at least, it can. For many people, summer is a fun time of year because the weather is nicer, there are a lot of activities that are not available during the colder months, and the kids are out of school which means more family time. Summer brings most of us outside more, and although there are many fun free activities to do outside, going places also means we have more opportunities to spend money. It’s important not to avoid summer activities because going outside can help improve your health, but you don’t need to sacrifice all the green in your wallet just to get some fresh air and have some fun. Here are five summer money suckers to be aware of.
1. Travel costs
Gas prices vary regularly, but the cost of gas actually depends on the weather; therefore, summer gas is often more expensive because it’s more difficult to make (since the summer-blended compounds help reduce smog during the hot months). If you are regularly driving more than you would in the winter (either because you simply go more places, or because you plan one or more long road trips), you may be spending more on gas.
Of course, a road trip still might be less expensive than purchasing a plane ticket, because higher gas prices can also affect the cost of plane tickets. You can save money on your road trips by cutting hotel costs, and searching for the cheapest gas as you travel.
2. Summer camps
If you have kids, there’s a good chance you plan to enroll them in at least one or two summer camps. Summer camps can be a fun way for kids to be safe and occupied, but they can also be costly. Many individual organizations offer summer camps, and usually the private organizations are more expensive than those run by a local town or city. You can save money by checking your local parks and recreation website; most cities and towns offer many of the same activities that you could find through a private organization (such as gymnastics, soccer, and day camp) at a much cheaper price. Depending on the organization you choose, you also may be able to save money by enrolling more than one child at the same camp.
3. Energy costs
In most parts of the country, you will have to use the heater in the winter and the air conditioner in the summer. Air conditioning bills can be very expensive, and if you live in a very humid area, your air conditioner also might be fighting to lower the humidity. Using fans in your home can cut costs, as can opening the windows at night (but only if you are not facing humidity), and closing unused vents as well (depending on what kind of system you have). If you are comfortable setting your air conditioner to a higher temperature, you will face less wear and tear because the air conditioner won’t run as often, and you will save money by keeping the actual temperature higher as well.
Water bills can also go up in the summer due to watering plants, kids playing with water, longer showers in the hot weather, outdoor pools, and even increased dishes; you can save money by being careful with your water consumption and utilizing the rain for watering plants when possible. Using a clothes line is another great way to save energy.
4. Big parties
Parties are fun, and there’s many chances to celebrate during the summer. Whether you’re hosting a July 4th party, or you simply like to have your friends and family over for barbecues, the costs can quickly add up. Food can be expensive, especially meat products like burgers; if you want to quickly cut costs, ask your friends or family members to chip in (or bring a dish if you are more comfortable). This is completely acceptable, especially if you regularly host get-togethers, or you are simply having people over to spend time together (rather than to celebrate a graduation or party).
If you are uncomfortable asking for help, then you can still cut costs without asking others to contribute; consider making your own food instead of getting it catered, buying in bulk, using a playlist instead of paying for entertainment, limiting the decorations, and even offering appetizers and dessert only. Pinterest also has many great ideas.
5. Home improvement
Summertime brings most of us outside more, and the more we spend outside, the more we notice that could be improved around the yard and house. Home improvement can be a great idea; improving your back yard can be a great way to entertain guests, make your backyard more comfortable for you, and potentially increase your home value. However, before you spend money on outdoor home projects, take a minute and determine whether you will really use them. If you build a brand new deck when you could just sand and repaint your current one, you will be wasting money. If you purchase a bunch of landscaping materials but then you never actually get around to landscaping, you will be wasting money again. A gazebo might be beautiful, but if you’re never in your yard, it’s hardly worth the money.
If you are going to use your back yard and your projects will truly improve the space, than go for it, but be wary of spending money for items you won’t use.
Summer is a great time to spend time with friends and family, and to get outside and get rejuvinated after a long winter; just be sure you don’t lose money along with your snow or cold weather-induced cabin fever.