My Simple but Genius Tricks to Cut Back on Summer Spending

Don't let fun in the sun ruin your budget.

There’s something about summer that makes people throw caution to the wind when it comes to their budgets. Maybe it’s the relaxed attitude of the season or the fear of missing out on fun that leads us to make poor spending decisions. After all, who can say no to ice cream outings, visiting the beach and sipping margaritas with friends during happy hour?

There’s no need to feel guilty for indulging in the season’s many temptations. After all, you work hard and should be able to enjoy spending your hard-earned dollars however you please. I, too, have gone overboard during this time, spending more on travel and summer fashion than I should have. That said, learning from my mistakes has allowed me to manage my money better.

Click to read more about how one woman stopped her bad spending habits.

Here are six tricks I learned to cut back on my own summer spending that can help you, too.

Take Inventory of Seasonal Essentials

While picking up a new swimsuit or beach tote may seem harmless, why waste money on something you already own? To resist the endless summery temptations lining retailer shelves, I find it helpful to take inventory of what I already own at the beginning of the season. This includes looking over my collection of swimsuits and coverups, sandals, beach bags, hats, sunglasses and so on. Reminding me of what I already own — and perhaps even have too much of — curbs impulse buys. However, if there’s something I’m dying to buy, I allow myself to do so on one condition: I have to sell something similar that I no longer use in order to cover the cost of the new purchase.

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Set Aside a ‘Fun’ Fund

Although it’s important to plan ahead and save for summer activities or travels, you don’t always have to say no to those last-minute ideas — whether that’s going to dinner and a movie or a weekend getaway. In fact, I find spontaneity exciting and enjoy making impromptu plans once in a while. To help keep my budget in check when things come up at the last moment, I began setting aside a “fun” fund each month to cover these unexpected activities. If I don’t use all of the money that I put away into this account, I roll it over to the next month. It’s been a great way to take part in various summer fun without feeling guilty.

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Host Your Own Happy Hour

There’s nothing like sitting on a nice outdoor patio and sipping cocktails while catching up with friends. Indulging in a happy hour every week started to add up, though, so instead of completely skipping out on the fun, I decided to host gatherings in my own backyard. I ask guests to bring a snack or something to drink, like a bottle of wine, which helps keep my overall spending on food and beverages down, and everyone enjoys the savings.

Read: We Saved Money and Made Friends With a Neighborhood Wine Club

Look for Cheap Travel Opportunities

My family and I love to travel, especially during the summer since the weather in Bakersfield, Calif., can be excruciatingly hot. However, frequent weekend escapes became pricey quickly. Now, we look for cheap travel destinations we can drive to in order to cut back on transportation costs. Camping has been a wonderful way for us to explore different parts of California — from the beaches to the mountains — while allowing us to stay on budget. We pack our own food and look for free activities, such as hiking, mountain biking and playing on the beach, to further reduce our overall spending. If exploring the great outdoors isn’t on your agenda, you can find camping options near cities, giving you access to more cultural and historical activities.

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More on Affordable Getaways: 36 Cheap Travel Tips for Everyone on a Budget

Get Creative With Crafts

I’m always looking for activities to keep my daughter busy during the week when I’m not working, and although we have access to a nearby zoo, children’s museum and trampoline park, I found that I can keep her happy with crafts that don’t cost much money. I use Pinterest for inspiration, finding fun DIY projects that often use items that I already have at home, such as empty toilet paper rolls, cotton balls and paper plates. Often, I find that my daughter is happy that I’m getting down and dirty with her, whatever the activity. So, don’t think you have to wow your child every day with something unique to do. Even just coloring, painting or creating sculptures with Play-Doh can offer your kids hours of entertainment on the cheap.

Take Advantage of Free Activities

You don’t have to spend money to have fun. Your city may offer free activities, such as movies in the park, outdoor festivals and concerts, or perhaps your library has free family-friendly events. I even found that my library offers passes to local attractions that I can “check out” at no cost. All you need to do is spend a little time researching and plan your schedule so you don’t miss out on the free things there are to do.

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Click to read more about free things to do in every state.

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