The last school bell of the year, the rush of water as it fills the pool, the jingle of music on the ice cream truck – are you hearing these in your head? If so, you’re not crazy; it just means summer is a few weeks away. As the last of the snow melts and the grass gets greener, thoughts turn to days at the beach or the mountains, evenings watching fireworks, and adventures in your city, state, and beyond. And with those thoughts come the question of how the heck you’ll pay it all.
If you’ve been budgeting for awhile, the potential expenses may not be an issue. However, if you’re starting out on the road to smart household financing, you may feel overwhelmed. Here are some tips to follow when preparing for the summer vacation season.
The best thing about a budget is you can plan well in advance for any summer outings you’re interested in. It may sound silly to start outlining events in June when January snows are covering your lawn, but that’s really the best time to figure out how much items such as airfare, attraction admissions, and lodging will cost you. Once the figures are put together you can devise a regular budget, putting away the needed amount of money each pay. By using this method, you won’t feel overwhelmed as the time to depart for your summer destination arrives.
Unfortunately, you can’t plan for everything. There may be a day where you want to take the family out for ice cream, or an surprise trip pops up, or you want to attend a just-announced event. Since you can’t detail these items in your budget, the best thing to do is set up a cushion account for these last-minute adventures. And if you don’t have the money to take that last-minute yacht trip across the lake, don’t pull the cash from your savings account or emergency fund to pay for it – you’ll regret it later when it’s really needed.
Budget for Summer Maintenance
Though the season is known for fun and frolic, it’s also known for air conditioner failures, overheating cars, broken lawn mowers, and pool cleaning. Make sure you don’t forget these situations when preparing your budget. Nothing can ruin a summer more if the money you allocated for a trip needs to be used to make a repair. If possible, budget well in advance for these items so services can be performed on these items in the spring.
The Free Stuff
The best way to budget for the summer, and to keep the expenses down, is to partake in as many free events as possible. Whether it be walks along the beach, bike rides in the woods, or evening concerts in the park, your town or surrounding areas probably offer many free options where the only thing you need to bring is a lawn chair and a picnic. In the end, these may be more enjoyable than a high-cost trip to a resort town or an amusement park.