Sense & Centsibility Blog

How to Avoid Being Broke All Summer

Summer is warm weather, barbecues, spending time outside, and for some reason spending more money. Because it's finally warm after a long and cold winter and spring, I try to fit in doing more things - which also usually costs more money.  Every year I think about this and this year I'm actually going to do something about it. So here's my plan to spend less this summer:

  1. Happy Hour Alternatives

    For me summer means back to playing volleyball 3 times a week. And where I live, the volleyball courts are outside a bar/restaurant. My plan this year is to make sure to eat before I play or have a quick snack beforehand to tide me over until I get home. The other plan is to drink more water. It's free and saves me calories from having that one drink I would have had in the past. And if I do decide to have a cocktail, I'm going to do that on the nights I play early since happy hour is cheaper (and ends at 6).

    Even if you don't play volleyball, think of something in your life where you can plan ahead to save money. For instance, if you are going to meet up with your friends on Saturday night, eat dinner at home first which will save you money on food.
  2. Grill at Home

    Luckily (in my opinion) it usually doesn't get too hot in Duluth. And if it does, the weather will usually cool off sooner rather than later. But on those hot days I just don't want to cook. So instead, my plan is to avoid the easy way out and getting take-out and instead using the grill in my own backyard. It's more cost effective and I can even make enough to have leftovers, which will save me even more money not having to buy lunch.
  3. Go to the Beach

    Sometimes I question why I live in Minnesota because I LOVE the beach. While there may be a fee for some beaches, it's usually pretty small and many are free. You can enjoy the outdoors, maybe get a little exercise swimming, walking, or playing volleyball, and even bring your own snacks from the grocery store. Overall it's quite affordable...and you can stay all day if you want.
  4. Enjoy Your (or your friend's) Yard

    Every winter I'm stuck inside because of the cold and yet I find myself not taking advantage of my giant backyard and deck as much as I should. This year I'm going to change that. With sometimes limited nice weather, it's a smart move to soak it up whenever possible. So instead of going out for the afternoon or evening (or both), invite friends over, grab some beverages, food, or whatever you like and just hang out at home. Or if you don't have a usable outside space, see if your friends/family want some company or head to a nearby park for a while. :)

Taking an educated guess, I'm hoping that this will curb my spending by at least $100/month. I'm not saying I'll never dine out or go out on a Friday night. However, by making a conscious effort to reduce those things, I'd say $100/month is likely the minimum I'll save. What other money-saving alternatives can you implement or have already tried?

It doesn't take major life changes or cutting out the fun in your life to save money. You just need to be intentional and consistent in your efforts.

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling. We help people take control of their debt, save for emergencies, and achieve financial goals.