Your Summer on a Budget

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June has arrived in South Florida with a bang. The rainy season appears to have crept in, and of course, school’s out. By the end of the first week of June, most schools are finished, and summer is officially here. Long, hot, lazy days are the perfect setting for making lasting memories with friends and families. BUT WAIT! What about your budget? Summer can be a hot, sticky time that can make or break your budgeting goals. Vacations, parties, the water park, the road trip … these extra expenses can add up faster than you can blink. So what can you do to stick to your budget? Read on peeps for some simple tips.

June is a great time to work on your finances. It’s halfway through the year, you have your budget firmly in place (I hope), and there’s plenty of time to shore things up if you’ve been sluggish since January. Summer means we feel motivated. It’s easy to get outside and walk on the beach, picnic in the park and enjoy quality time with family and friends. Of course, in South Florida, you might need some rain gear. OK, and a kayak to navigate 95. Either way, keep in mind that no matter what your plans are for the summer, you don’t have to break your pretty pink piggy bank to have fun in the sun. If it ever peeps out from behind the storm clouds, lol.

Let’s begin with a quickie check in on your emergency fund and your savings. I know, I’m getting personal, but only because it’s so important. Before planning those summer extracurricular activities, KNOW your budget. Once you have revisited, analyzed and figured out if you have some extra funds for summer, you can get busy planning your fun. No stress if your wallet is tied to pay down debt or if your salary is lackluster. You can still have a great summer.

You can have a great summer vacation if you plan it right.

None of us want to think about debt and budgets in the summer, but really, it’s a great time to look deeply at your finances. The year is half over and you have made some progress saving and paying off debts, or you need to start now.

First things first, EMERGENCY FUND. Minimally, you need $1000 tucked away for emergencies. Even though it may not be enough, it will cut the pain of added expenses just a little bit. Secondly, DEBT; not very exciting, but if you’re truly ready to pay it down, summer is a fresh beginning. Cut out the credit card spending. No, you cannot spend the day lounging on a luxury yacht sipping cocktails if your bank balance is dipping towards zero. Start paying down your existing debt by tackling the smallest bills first. It will be hard, no doubt, but worth it as you disentangle yourself from the proverbial noose around your neck. Once you commit, DO NOT take on additional debts. If you pay off your credit card, don’t build it up again with a weekend in Cabo. Hold yourself accountable. You can even ask a friend to check in with you to keep you steadfast.

Alright, let’s talk about vacations. You know, I know, we all know that a vacation is severely overdue and necessary. Besides, everyone is taking exotic cruises and traveling through Europe, etc. BUT, you’re on a budget! Guess what, local or far away; there are ways to save on a vacation.

Transportation: Cash in those credit card miles and airline points you have saved up. Book at least two months in advance look to fly on a Tuesday. It’s a little secret to get a better price. By avoiding busy times and holiday weekends, you can maximize your savings.

Road tripping can be a great option for cutting down travel costs. There are loads of ways to drive for less, and it’s a lot of fun. My family has road tripped across much of the USA, and the fun is actually in the journey. Silly songs, ISpy, and even traffic can create lasting memories that make you smile and laugh years later. Plan your stops along the way; there’s a website (www.roadsideamerica.com) that lists weird and often free roadside attractions –  it’s definitely on my to do list.

Road trips are fun for the family, and the memories created unlike any others.

Accommodations: I am a firm believer in utilizing all savings possible here. You can check out sites like Groupon and Living Social for hotel deals, sometimes full packages. Often the deals are better than hotels.com and the like. One site we use often is www.VRBO.com (Vacation Rental by Owner) This is a great option because it is often cheaper and you can save on meals. Some places we have stayed have been more luxurious than home!

Where you choose to stay can impact those vacation dollars. Look for big deals and alternative options.

So, with June summer has officially arrived. Get outdoors (if the rain ever stops) and have fun with friends and family. BBQs, BYO parties, and local free or low-cost attractions are at your disposal. Remember, by keeping to a plan and a budget you are off to a new start for financial success!

Stay motivated and caffeinated!😉☕

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