But when my kids were still young and living at home summer brought its own challenges as well. One was having a different budget than the rest of the year.
For instance, cooling costs made electricity expenses go up. Watering the lawn raised the water bill and we paid extra for summer childcare too. Overall this resulted in hundreds of dollars of extra expenses during the summer months.
It wasn’t always easy and sometimes made me dread summer instead of looking forward to it. If you’re faced with similar summer money challenges, prepare for a higher summer budget in advance. Here are some ideas that can help you do it.
Set Aside Money
Of course, one of the first ways to prepare for a higher summer budget is to set aside money early. This money should be separate from your emergency fund, though. That money needs to be left alone for other unforeseen expenses.
Complete a rough calculation of what your expenses will be based on last summer’s bills. Water, electricity, and other household costs should be comparable if you live in the same house. Don’t forget to add summer childcare costs and other expenses you only have during the summer.
Take the total cost increase above your normal budget and divide it by twelve. This figure is how much extra to set aside every month to cover higher summer expenses.
Tighten Your Belt
Still, when summer is close you don’t have time to set aside money monthly. When that’s the case you may have to take more drastic action.
Tighten your belt to prepare for a higher summer budget can help you get needed funds quickly. First, look at your current budget and where you’re spending money.
Cut out what isn’t absolutely necessary such as clothes and accessories that you can get by without. Salon trips, morning coffee runs, and eating out should all be on the chopping block.
You may even be able to turn off cable and stream your favorite TV shows using Hulu or Netflix. Taking this action could save you a couple of hundred dollars over the next few months alone.
Save Where You Won’t Miss It
There are other ways to save for a higher summer budget that you won’t even miss. Some are easy habits you can put into practice without others noticing either.
Practice water conservation by shutting off facets when brushing teeth and lathering up in the shower. Use inexpensive water restrictors. Collect water as you wait for it to warm and dump it into toilet tanks for flushing. Water your lawn during early morning hours only.
Turn your thermostat up a few degrees this summer to save on cooling costs. Unplug appliances you aren’t using and shut off lights, televisions and other electronics as you leave a room. Use natural light instead of electricity to light rooms when you can. Hang clothes dry rather than using a clothes dryer.
To prepare meals, use crockpots and toaster ovens as much as possible instead of your oven. This will keep your house at a more comfortable temperature and save on cooling costs.
Limit Summer Camps
Kid’s summer camps can also add to your summer budget. To keep costs in check, limit the number of summer camps they attend. You can also choose less expensive camps that fit your budget better.
Grow Your Own Food
Start a garden this summer to save on food costs. This is another way to help you with a higher summer budget.
Growing your own food is also a good way to get your kids involved in household chores. Have your children help plant, weed, and water as well as choose what to grow.
Your kids can also help you with meal preparation. Let them choose which foods to eat and involve them in finding new recipes.
Can or freeze foods for use later in the summer or even into fall and winter months. This practice can save even more money throughout the rest of the year.
Summer costs can really add up and make it hard to pay all of your bills. Use these tips to help you prepare for a higher summer budget. It may be just the thing to help you get more enjoyment out of your summer.
Jeanne is a married mother of 2 children who works as a full-time freelancer and virtual assistant. She also helps out occasionally on the farm she and her husband own together. Her background is mostly finance and medical office management. She’s currently working to improve her financial well-being and hopes to help others improve theirs as well.