The following is a guest post from Jenna at Adaptu.com:
Money looks a little different in the summer. Between day camps and extra trips to the ice cream truck, your budget is probably going to vary a little from the September-May routine. Taking time to create a budget specifically designed for summer can save you big once the final school bell rings.
Step 1: What’s going to stay the same?
Make creating a budget easier by first determining which of your monthly expenses will not be affected by summer vacation. For example, your mortgage payment won’t go down just because your kids are at camp.
Step 2: Determine the budget busters
Between prime vacation season and special outings to the water park, it’s no surprise that many families see their entertainment spending increase significantly in the summertime. Get a good calendar thrown together before you start allocating money to your entertainment budget.
Hint: While the amusement park is always fun, it’s also expensive. Summer is filled with low-cost or free activities. Picnics, free days at the zoo or museum, theater in the park—start your event calendar by looking at what will cost you nothing. (From Kris: my expenses go way up in the summer for the very reasons mentioned above. Buying annual passes to places you may go to frequently can say you a lot of money. For example, if I buy an annual pass at the zoo, it covers admission all year along with free parking.)
Another area where you should prepare your budget? Transportation. Especially gas. Chances are you’ll be shuttling kids to and from camps, the beach and friends’ houses a lot more than you were in the spring. Combine all that time in the car with rising gas prices, and you’re budget is bound to feel a little squeezed if you don’t plan ahead.
Step 3: Seek summer savings
Not everything costs you more between June and August. If you pay for your child to eat lunch at school every day, you’re most likely paying a premium. Making that same PB&J at home will save you a pretty penny. And, if your kids go to sleep away camp — your grocery bill is sure to shrink (even more if you have teenagers).
Hint: On top of automatic summer savings, take advantage of farmers markets where you can get fresh food often times at a fraction of grocery stores.
Remember, while your cable bill may be constant, not all utilities are created equal. If you don’t consider AC a necessity, be comfortable cutting back on your utility budget.
Hint: There are lots of ways to cut back on cooling costs. Apply coating to your windows to keep heat out, close blinds when you’re not at home, and use fans before turning on the AC.
Step 4: Set your budget and breathe easy
As the warm weather starts coming in, take some time to update your budget accordingly. Utilize online tools like Adaptu to keep your budget updated automatically. Make sure you check in to see how you’re doing, but don’t forget that it’s summer — take time to relax and have fun.
Hint: Once you have mapped out your budget for the summer, make sure you will have a positive cash flow. That is, make sure you are making more money than you are spending. Once you know you’re saving enough money, go enjoy summer!