Summer is here: the season of vacations, activities, and unexpected expenses. Not only is your electric bill soaring again as you attempt to air condition your house, your water bill is up because you're spending more time in water play, gas prices are higher, and you're trying desperately to come up with a family vacation that won't break the bank.
If you're looking for ways to save money this summer, don't despair! You can have plenty of fun without breaking out your credit cards or spending more than you can afford.
Check out Free Events
During the summer months, there are plenty of community events that don't cost a penny. Look for free concerts and festivals or those that are extremely low-cost. In many cases, it's the inexpensive summer activities that are the most memorable!
If you're headed out to a festival, carnival, concert, or other event, don't take your debit or credit cards alone. Take the time to budget for the event ahead of time, then only take cash along with you. This will prevent you from impulse spending--no matter how tempting that souvenir or food stand might be.
Scale it Down
You don't have to take an elaborate family vacation to have plenty of fun. Instead of heading off to a theme park, try a quiet long weekend at the beach. Don't take a road trip across the country; instead, look for the fun places in your own backyard.
Rent a Condo
If you are taking a big family vacation, consider the benefits of a condo or beach house over a hotel room--especially if you'll be traveling with enough family members for two or more hotel rooms. Condos are often only a little more expensive, and they'll save you plenty of money in the cost of meals. You'll be able to prepare your own in a fully-stocked kitchen instead of eating out!
Break Out the Slow Cooker
Turning on your oven will heat up the entire house when your air conditioner is already working overtime. Instead, try using your slow cooker or looking for ways to use your microwave more efficiently--or even try meals that don't have to be heated at all!
Look for Ways to Save on Childcare
If you're not lucky enough to have one parent who is able to stay at home with the kids through the summer months--and many families aren't--look into ways that you can save on childcare. Consider going in with a friend on a babysitter, taking advantage of Grandma's time off, or even asking if it's possible to bring the kids to work with you.
Make Your Own Snacks
Whether you're headed out on a long road trip or preparing for a big day at the park, don't buy into the pricey treats you can get while you're out. Instead, pack food to take with you.
Check out Your Town
Chances are, there are some things in your hometown that you've never had the chance to discover. Is there a public spot on the local lake where you can swim for free? What about a park that your kids have never been to before? Do a search for all of those fun, free places to visit, then check them out with your kids or your spouse.
Check for Coupons
No matter where you're going, always check for coupons on Groupon and other sites before you leave the house. You never know when you'll be able to save a ton on your trip!
Use the Sun to Your Advantage
You might not want sun-dried clothes, which can end up crispy or wrinkled, but sheets, towels, and other large items can be hung out in the sun to dry instead of using your dryer.
Reduce Vacation Envy
During the summer, envy of other people's expensive vacations and pricey day trips runs higher than ever. Instead of falling into that trap, look for ways to make the most of your own summer with your family. Sure, the kids are only little once--but that doesn't mean you have to give them the most expensive everything to have a great year.
Plan for Next Year
If summer is one of the most expensive times of year for your family, start looking at ways to cut costs for next year. Write out a budget that includes everywhere your money has gone this summer so that next year, you can spend more time saving.
The summer months can be incredibly draining for your budget, but they can also be plenty of fun! By finding ways to slash your budget, you can help keep your debt relief on track while still enjoying these months with your family.