Photo taken June 2016. I took this photo on a walk around the lake behind our house. One of the many free things you can do over the summer months.
Can you believe that we are halfway thru summer? I honestly can't. It has flown by and I can't believe that it is already July. I have been working summer school, so I haven't had a lot of free time, but I still have time to go out and do all the crazy spending that we tend to do in the summer. Like in June, I spent more on gifts than I would normally, because our anniversary occurs in June. That is just something that comes with the month and as you recall from my article on gifts, we only buy gifts for each other on our anniversary. Based on our current data, June was the month with the lowest savings rate this year. Let's look at a few things that can cause our finances to go thru the roof in the summer.
Pool Time Fun
Living in the South, most of these things are available year round. Growing up as a kid in the north, it was the opposite. I could only go to the pool or the amusement parks in the summer. So, we went to the pool often in the summer and my mother even paid for a summer pass for my sister. I didn't swim as much, so I just paid when I went.
This topic came up because I was reading an article titled, "Summertime and the Living is Expensive." The article does a good job of explaining six expenses that we deal with over the summer and how to cut the cost of these items. I have a few more and I will add to some of the ones that Melissa Leong wrote about.
This is one of the largest expenses, especially for somebody living in Texas. Our electricity bills have increased drastically with the rise in temperatures. It could be worse, but we try to keep the energy bill down by using a few strategies.
- Set the Thermostat to 78, 79 or 80. We do this and that temperature is not too bad when you get used to it. We actually set it to 79 during the day and then at night it comes on to lower the evening temperature in the house. (I lower the temperature at night because Mark Sisson at Mark's Daily Apple researched that lower temperatures leads to better sleep).
- Invest in solar shades. We have solar shades on the front of the house where the sun sets. The windows can let in a lot of heat, without these shades.
- When you travel, make sure that you set the temperature in the 80s. I like to set ours to 85, while we are on vacation.
Pool Time Fun (including Waterparks)
This one is big for the summer time. Kids love going to the pool and I wouldn't take that away from them, but how can we make this more affordable?
- If you have a community pool, then use that one more often. I am perfectly fine with people having a good time and visiting the waterparks, but you don't need to go there everyday of the summer. Instead, use your community pool. For us, it is part of the HOA fees that we pay in December, so this would not be an added cost to the summer.
- Only visit waterparks once or twice during the summer. This cuts down on lots of costs of visiting the waterpark. (Use your community pool instead).
- Finally, I guess if you must go to the waterpark all summer long, then it may make sense to buy the season pass to save a little on the money. My question would be, is there other stuff you could do during the summer? There are: bike rides, walking around a park, fishing and much more. All of these are cheaper than paying for a season pass to a waterpark.
I have been blessed most of my life that I have lived a good distance from amusement parks. They are so expensive and I like to avoid them. I would throw amusement parks under the same category as a waterpark. Going once or twice in a summer is fine, but you don't need to go all summer. There are alot of free things to do in the summer and you could avoid the huge costs of attending these parks. Some tips to saving money at these parks are listed below:
- Bring your own food.
- Pay for General Admission Parking
- Leave the Park at Lunch and go eat lunch out of the cooler in your car.
- Food expenses are some of the biggest expenses in these parks and can be avoided by planning ahead and packing your own lunch.
- Take your own pictures and avoid the marked up theme park photos.
In the article, the writer suggest doing the yard work yourself will be the best way to cut costs, but you could also hire a neighborhood teen to do the work and they will be cheaper than hiring a yardman. I prefer to do the yard work myself and it isn't perfect, but I make sure to work on it once a week at the least. Sometimes this summer, I have trimmed the bushes after getting off of work and then mowed on the weekend. Just by being willing to do my own yard work, I have saved lot's of money. I personally think you can even go farther and save even more money by using a reel mower.
That's right I use a reel mower. It saves me on the cost of buying gas to fuel the lawn mower. It is also easier to mow with it because I don't have to worry about running out of gas. I just grab the lawnmower, head out and mow. With a regular mower, I would have to fill up a fuel container and then fill up the lawn mower. It is just simpler this way. Understandably, the reel mower won't work for everybody because of the larger yards. It works for us because we have a smaller yard. Some people have large yards and a reel mower does not make any sense.
Vacations (including the Lake and the Beach)
Vacations can become a very expensive time of the year, but you still have to make sure that you are paying attention to your money and find ways to save on expenses.
- Bring your own food. When we went skiing in March, we brought our own food and saved on the cost of dinner every night. This does not mean that you don't eat out, it just means that most of the time you eat your own food and maybe once or twice eat out on the town.
- Rent a House/Condo instead of staying at a hotel. When we traveled in March, there were six of us. It was cheaper to rent a house instead of pay for three separate hotel rooms. Most of my research has found that staying in a hotel is cheaper with just one couple, but when there are multiple people or couples, then staying in a vacation rental is very economical.
- Set a budget and stick to it. People tend to spend like crazy on vacation, because they are away from it all. My wife and I have a saying, when we are on vacation. This mostly applies to eating poorly, but we say, "We're on Vacation!" Like it doesn't matter, because we are on vacation. That mindset will get you in trouble both health wise and financially. You might come back from the vacation and find yourself 5 pounds heavier and $10,000 in debt. Avoid this by staying on a budget.
Summer can be an expensive time of year, but you always combat that by finding cheaper ways to enjoy summer. My favorite free things to do in the summer:
Reading a Good Book
Tubing/Tanking Down the River
We tend to avoid the movie theatre, because it can be pretty expensive. So, we wait until it comes out on DVD and rent it from Red Box. We don't have to see every movie when it comes to the theatre. This has saved us lots of money. Instead of going to the movies, we use Netflix as our movie/tv entertainment and then rent whatever is not available on Netflix from Red Box.