Summer spending can be hard on our wallets, but these five tips will help make sure you're not going into debt for your fun.
The sun is out, your friends have emerged from hibernating, the potential things out there that you can spend your time (and all your hard-earned cash) on have increased tenfold! For all those that have survived another gloomy winter, the presence of good weather feels so good. So good, that you don't even care that you're eating out more, splurging on drinks, buying those cute new summer clothes, planning trips... until you check your bank balance and credit card statements.
Read on for 5 tricks to save yourself from going in the red this summer, and make sure you read to the end- I may be biased but #5 could be the most important!
1. Pay yourself first.
You've heard this before, I know you have. But if you're not doing it yet, you need to hear it again. PAY. YOURSELF. FIRST. As soon as you get paid, make sure some of that is going into savings. If your paycheck and monthly bills are consistent, you should be able to put the same amount into savings every payday. If they are not consistent, shoot for a consistent percentage. At a minimum, try to put away 5%, but the more you are able to save, the less you will be beating yourself up next time you are 6 days away from your next payday and only have $10 in your account. If 5% is easy peasy, up your game to 10, 15, or 20%.
Money is funny in the sense that if you try to save after you've paid for all of your other things... there won't be anything left. This is the same regardless of what you make, so it's time to end the thought process of "I just don't make enough". No, my friend, you just have to make YOU your first priority! You work hard for your money, and you deserve to have something to show for it!
2. Happy hours and freebies
It's easy to go along with the crowd for dinner and drinks, and even easier to rack up a higher-than-anticipated bill when you're out. If someone suggests a new place you haven't been to, check out the menu and prices online before going, and get a feel for what you would be spending. If it's out of your budget, try suggesting somewhere that has good happy hour deals, or see if your friends are up for a free/cheaper alternative. This could be grilling at a friend's where everyone brings something to share or making a picnic lunch for the beach or park. If you are trying to manage your spending, don't be afraid to talk about it with your friends, it's likely they feel the strain on their wallets too.
3. Cash, not card
Unless you're in a job where you make cash tips or are paid with physical cash, it can be an inconvenient way to pay. But, this summer, challenge yourself to it, at least for eating out and fun summer splurges. Being able to charge everything to your card makes overspending way too easy, and it doesn't make you think about your purchases. You can either give yourself a weekly cash allowance of fun money or withdraw a fixed amount before going out. This will help keep your budget in line, and you won't dread checking your account the next day. Make sure you have enough for a tip too, we are being frugal here, not cheapskates.
4. Vacation fund
We are certainly in spending season, not only are we eating out more, but there are vacation and trip opportunities around every corner! Personally, I would much rather spend my money on experiences, rather than things, but in order to do that... you need money. If you're going on a trip on a whim, it's likely you will be out a few hundred dollars, if not thousands. While throwing this on your credit card is the easy route now, it won't feel so easy when you're barely scraping by on the payments. Start a vacation fund, in a separate account that is specifically for trips, vacations, and adventures. Put a little in every time you get paid, and add extra when you can. If you have a big trip coming up, start putting money in now to offset your future expenses.
Contributing to your fund year-round can give you the means to truly enjoy your summer, especially if you tend to spend less during the winter. If you live somewhere cold, you know it's a lot harder to make yourself get out and do things, so take advantage of those lower-spending months and sock away more while you can!
5. AUTOMATE IT
Yes, this one is in all caps, because it's the key to actually saving anything. Set up an automatic deposit into your savings and vacation fund, and then forget about it. We are truly lucky that we live in a time where this is so simple to do, so take advantage of it! Figure out your dollar amount, or your 5, 10, or 20% of paycheck savings, and set that amount to automatically be transferred into your savings after each payday. Out of sight, out of mind. You know how if you're trying to cut down on junk food, the first step is to not buy it in the first place? If it's not in your cupboard, you can't eat it. This is the same thing, if it's not in your checking account, you can't spend it. (At least not as easily).
Once your savings are automated, and you see your savings account grow, your money stresses will slowly start to melt away. Yeah, you may still be checking account poor those last few days before your next paycheck, but soon you will be savings account rich! Just make sure to not dip into your savings for frivolous things, it should be there for emergencies, or put to use for long term goals.
If you implement these 5 tricks, not only will you not feel completely broke all summer, you will begin to build good money habits that can help you for years to come!