Looking for ways to save this summer? As the flowers bloom and the temperatures rise, so does the stress about summer vacations and activities. Summer is the time when families look to the summer months for a chance to get away for a well deserved vacation, or even lay low for a rejuvenating “staycation”.
For those with kids, summer holidays can also present a challenge in keeping them entertained and focused while keeping your spending in check. Regardless of your plans this year, the best way to begin is with a budget. Making a realistic budget isn’t exciting, but it the key to keeping your finances under control.
The cardinal rule? Don’t take on debt. Putting your summer fun on credit creates bigger, long term problems. If you’re currently overwhelmed with debt, prioritize getting out of debt first, and focus on the lowest cost ways to enjoy yourself this summer.
In addition to staying within your financial limits, you need to be creative to keep costs down. Here are 7 tips to maximize your summer savings:
- Shop Effectively: Go online to find the best rates for plane tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, and packaged deals.
- Weekday Travel: You can save money by traveling or vacationing during the middle of the week. If you have flexible travel days, you’ll find better deals on airfare and hotels as well as car rentals.
- Local Attractions: Summertime is peak season for arts, music, and food festivals. Many of these activities are free or cheap to attend.
- Freebies: Remember that there are many enjoyable things you can do that don’t cost any money at all. Go for a hike, relax at the beach, or go for a picnic. Spending time with those you love without spending extra money can sometimes bring bigger rewards than an expensive splurge.
- Staycation: Look at interesting, local vacation options. You can cut out the cost of airfare by exploring the fun things to do near your home. There is probably a lake, beach, trail, or tourist attraction in your area that you’ve never visited before
- Rewards Program: If you build up points in a frequent flyer or travel rewards program, you can slash your vacation costs. Check with the companies to see if you can combine multiple ones to maximize your rewards. Enrollment is usually free so build up points throughout this year that you can use next year.
- Pack Lightly: If you’re flying, keep your checked luggage to a minimum. Airline baggage fees can range from $50+ per bag, each way. This adds up fast if you’re traveling with a family. Stick to carry-on bags when possible or use airlines without (or low) checked baggage fees.
Don’t forget to protect your credit rating and avoid costly late fees and interest rate hikes by setting up automatic bill payment to pay your bills during your vacation. It’s also smart if at all possible to have a rainy day or emergency fund to cover unexpected costs while on vacation.