Pricey summer camps, peak season travel and high-priced energy bills are just a few reasons why people consider July to be an expensive month. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money on these and other expenses.
Try these tips to save cash as the summer heats up.
1. Rethink Your Major Appliance Use
Hot July days can mean increased water and energy use, which translates into higher bills. When you alter how you use your major appliances, however, you can help offset rising utility costs.
Take the hot water heater, for example. According to the Department of Energy, you can save 3 to 5 percent on water heating costs for every 10-degree temperature reduction. In the summer, there’s no need to take long, scorching showers or to wash clothes in hot water, making this an easy way to save.
Also in July, consider giving your dryer an extended holiday. Instead, hang your clothes outside on a line to dry in the breeze.
2. Grow Your Own Vegetables
A family of four can spend up to $295 per week on food, according to the latest USDA Food Cost report. In the summer, it’s easy to drastically reduce your grocery bill.
Sure, you can purchase in-season fruits and vegetables at low summer prices, but why not boost your savings even further by planting your own vegetable and herb garden?
In terms of how to save money in July, growing your own food is a bit of a twofer. First, you save money because you don’t have to buy as much produce, thereby lowering your grocery bill. Second, planting a garden means there’s less grass to cut so your lawn maintenance bill decreases.
3. Change Your Cell Phone Plan
If your cell phone plan is set to autopay, take note: Your service provider might be charging you more than you owe. This month, make a point to examine your cell phone bill for opportunities to save.
For example, if you are using far less data than you’re paying for, you could downgrade your data plan. You might even find you’re fine with switching to a cheaper prepaid plan.
It’s also possible to save by switching cell phone providers. If you discover you’re current company is charging you high roaming fees, consider switching to a provider that uses WiFi calling. Companies like Republic Wireless or Google’s Project Fi automatically switch a customer’s phone from data to WiFi when needed. Additionally, they can work using WiFi when traveling abroad so you avoid extra charges.
4. Shop a Summer Sale
July is a great month to snap up certain retail items for less. At the beginning of the month, shop Fourth of July sales on barbecue grills, patio furniture and other outdoor entertainment items.
Don’t abandon the climate-controlled shopping mall once the Fourth of July holiday is over, either. “Sizzling Summer” and “Christmas in July” sales carry throughout the month. Look for deals on jewelry and off-season clothes. You might even be able to save money on swimsuits toward the end of the month.
5. Wash Your Own Car
You aren’t likely to scrub your Subaru in the colder months, but washing your own car in the summer can save you about $20 per wash.
If you simply don’t have the time to wash your car, consider delegating the task to your kids as part of their chores. Regardless of how much a car wash costs at your preferred location, it likely isn’t as much as your children’s allowances.
One thing to watch for when washing your own car is water usage. Try not to go overboard with the hose or you may see a hefty water bill.
6. Skip the Expensive Summer Camp
A challenge most parents face in July and throughout the summer is how to keep kids entertained without spending a fortune. Summer camps can be a great way to fight off inevitable boredom, but many private camps come with steep sticker prices.
The good news is you can skip the fancy summer camps for less expensive ones through organizations like the YMCA and other local youth centers. Many cities and municipalities also plan activities all year round through their recreation departments.
7. Join an Energy Reduction Program
Perhaps one of the lesser known easy ways to save money in July is to join your power supplier’s energy reduction program.
When you join such programs, a technician comes to your home to install a remote in-line switch to some of your high-energy appliances. Any time there is a spike in energy usage or there is an energy emergency, the power company has the ability to shut off your energy. This might sound unappealing, but shut-offs don’t happen often, and the monthly credit to your bill can be worth any hassle.
Call or check online to see if your power company is among the many supplies that energy reduction programs.
8. Look for Free or Discounted Entertainment
July is a great time for free community activities. New York City, for example, has free concerts in Central Park during the summer months. Denver also boasts free musical entertainment in the summer. Check your local paper or your town’s recreational website for activities like music performances, movies in the park, festivals and more.
In cities in the southwest and similarly warm areas, look for free or reduced-priced indoor activities. Many places like museums will offer deals on admission on certain days. On days you can’t find any discounts, remember that your local library is always free to visit.
9. Travel to Unpopular Summer Destinations
How to save money on travel is always top of mind for people come the summer time. The best way to avoid paying peak travel season prices is not to travel during peak season. As you might have deduced, July falls right in the middle of peak season.
If you’re simply itching to get away, you can save on summer travel by visiting destinations that are less popular during this time of year. For example, you could cross the equator to visit a destination like Argentina that is in the peak of winter. Or if extreme heat doesn’t deter you, you could try the Southwest, Florida or the Caribbean or similar destinations where winter tends to be the busiest travel season.
10. Scoop Up Ice Cream Deals
July is the best month to scoop up delicious deals on ice cream because it is National Ice Cream Month. Additionally, the third Sunday of the month — July 16 this year — is National Ice Cream Day.
Brands like Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Graeter’s and Lindy’s are offering special coupons to help you save on frozen goodies. In years past, ice cream shops like Baskin Robbins, Carvel, Coldstone Creamery and Dairy Queen have also offered special deals on National Ice Cream Day and throughout the month. You can also save on ice cream thanks to special grocery store promotions.