How to Have Fun this Summer without Wrecking Your BudgetSummer is around the corner, and when the temperature starts rising, your expenses usually do the same. The summer season could easily be the death of your budget, but it doesn’t have to be. It is about enjoying life and being able to afford different experiences while still maintaining financial health. You should not have to choose between summer fun and sticking with your budget. It is about moderation and also doing some research.

Not everything in life is free, but many things are. And if it is not free, simply start building it into your budget. Everyone needs a budget. You may not like one, but it gives you a track to run on and understand ways to control your financial life.  If you know what is left over from your income at the end of the month after paying your “must” expenses including funding an adequate cash reserve and special items, then take part of the residual and divide by four (weeks) and that is what you can spend each week and have fun. A common mistake people make, they set a standard budget for every month of the year. This results in errors since not all months and monthly expenditures are the same.  Here are some suggestions on how to enjoy your summer while sticking to your budget.

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Take Advantage of Happy Hour and Inexpensive Restaurant Options

Summer is eating-out season. With outdoor dining, fruity drinks and good conversation it is hard to say no. I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat out, but instead of spending up your whole week’s food budget, aim at hitting the restaurant in time for happy hour.  Another great option, grab a bite at home before you hit the restaurant and go for the appetizer or share an entrée instead. This could lower your bill immensely and you could get away with spending less than $30. Research Happy Hour buffets or BYOB (bring your own booze) restaurants in your area.

Travel for Less

When planning your vacation, timing is everything. You can travel inexpensively if you have the ability of being flexible. This would apply to people who do not mind jumping on the aircraft for a last minute trip.  For everyone else, planning ahead is key.  While airlines offer last-minute deals, there is no guarantee.  Travel tip: always track airline and hotel websites early. This way you can book when prices are low. Usually the best deals go to people who book their reservations two months ahead on domestic flights and six months ahead on international flights. I would recommend Airfare Watchdog www.airfarewatchdog.com , which will alert you with an update if a route you’ve shown interest goes on sale.

Free Concerts

Concerts is a must during the summer, but they can be expensive.  Search for free concert options in your area. Check out:  myfreeconcert.com, ilovefreeconcerts.com and timeout.com.  Many smaller venues owned by cities and towns throw night concerts for visitors and locals. These are a nice way to interact with your community and get a free concert at the same time.

Picnics and Backyard Movie Nights

Entertaining during the summer doesn’t need to be expensive. Picnics are great and less expensive than going out to eat. Bring sandwiches, fruit, beverages, nuts, cheese, and if you’re a wine connoisseur – splurge on a bottle of wine or designer beer and pack the basket. You’re now set for a day of fun.  You should also search your local parks for outdoor movie screenings or rent a projector and do it in your own backyard!

Local Attractions and Event Discounts

We have a tendency to forget the attractions that are right in our neighborhoods. When was the last time you were a tourist in your own city? Go hiking in one of the areas of your town or city, visit your local museum, library, lakes, and beaches.  Your local destinations usually have tons of fun events going on during the summer. Tip – search for websites that offer event discounts. A great place to find cool events is the Yplan app. There you can search for events that are within your price range and they even have some free events listed.

The bottom line: if you have a budget, live with it and within your means. Having control of your finances allows you to experience life without dragging along a lot of debt. Instead of worrying about debt you should be focused on your future and what could be the best years and times of your life. Live today but plan for tomorrow.

 

Author Bio: Peter J. Creedon CFP®, ChFC, CLU is the founder and CEO of Crystal Brook Advisors, a financial planning and investment management firm. For over 15 years Peter has helped young individuals and businesses on the journey towards reaching their financial goals. Contact him at peter{at}crystalbrookadvisors.com for help with your own budget or other financial questions.

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