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Spending Summer on a Budget

With summer round the corner and people looking to take to road trips and vacations, below are some ways to keep the great weather from breaking the bank. Evidently, some of these tips are applicable throughout the year.

Entertainment

With the kids being on holidays, there could be a need to take them to a few movies during the summer and add the odd trip to the amusement park. Resistance to buying overpriced food items at the movie theater and the park will keep expenses to reasonable levels, while waiting for promotional offers will also help. Convincing the kids to watch rented movies at home or subscribing to a rental service like Netflix or Hulu are not bad ideas either. Taking the kids along while grocery shopping may save the cash that would have been spent on the babysitter but it opens up the ad-friendly and attractive aisles of the supermarket to the kids’ untrained mind.

There are adults who struggle with impulsive shopping/spending; so, it is a tough task for the parent(s) to keep the kid from wanting almost every toy and candy bar from the store. Maybe, there is a case to be made for spending some money (on the babysitter) to save some money (by leaving the kids at home).

Gardening

For those with some space and an interest in growing their own food, good weather can become a boon. Planting some seeds that can be purchased on the cheap can yield considerable produce over the summer (evidently, there is more work involved than simply digging the soil and putting the seeds in!).

Depending on the location, vegetables and fruits from the garden can help cut down on the grocery bill. Sometimes, planting flowers can also help indirectly by occupying one’s time and interest that could have been spent on something unproductive or on things costing more money. Visiting the local farmers market may offer some fresh and cheap produce and developing a barter system or trading with the neighbors can also benefit both parties.

Utilities

Related to gardening but involving utilities – watering the garden early in the morning or late in the day can prevent the rapid evaporation that could occur when done during the day. Saving rain water could be worth looking at for some people.

Turning the air conditioner off when not necessary is another money-saver. Many people could do just fine without the air conditioner while reading a book or watching TV; opening windows and/or using portable fans or ceiling fans might suffice. Closing bathroom doors that don’t need the cooling, keeping filters clean (replacing, if need be), and shutting off the unit when leaving the house will support the energy cost-cutting measures.

Summer Wear

Several stores run summer sales during this time of the year. If there is a need or maybe, a want or two, cashing in now is the better way. Also, if you are into swapping clothes (“the too big/too small/not-the-fad-now” ones) with friends/relatives, then organizing a get-together to exchange such clothes would also save some bucks.

Lawn Maintenance

Depending on the interest and time one has available to maintain the lawn, hiring a local kid would provide some time to relax after work than running the mower, while offering spending money for the kid during the holidays.

What other tips do you have to keep the summer from putting a severe dent in one’s budget? How do you keep expenses low when you have kids in tow, whether at the mall or during a vacation to an exotic land?

About the Author: Clark works in Saskatchewan and has been working to build his (DIY) investment portfolio, structured for an early retirement. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism. You can read his other articles here.

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About the author: Clark works in Saskatchewan and has been working to build his (DIY) investment portfolio, structured for an early retirement. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism. You can read his other articles here.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • bob June 13, 2012, 7:38 pm

    I don’t think Hulu is available in Canada . . .

  • Melanie S June 13, 2012, 8:44 pm

    While I agree that biring a kid to mow the lawn can be a worthwhile expense, I don’t find it works with the “on a budget” theme. Same with paying a babysitter during grocery shopping. Don’t give into tantrums and it won’t cost you anything extra. Besides, the grocery store is a great place for learning.

  • Goldberg June 14, 2012, 12:27 pm

    I agree with Melanie on both points.

    That $5 or $10 a week to a local kid for mowing the lawn adds up quickly by summer’s end. About $100 per summer.

    It takes me under 30mins to cut mine. Also how about buy a manual lawnmower. You’ll save on the purchase cost as well as gas/electricity, and the gym membership. I paid $60 for mine and you can cut the gym membership since that’s 30mins of exercises every week pushing that thing.

    Which brings a new idea, cut the gym membership during summer. Cutting the lawn using a manual lawnmower, biking and running outside daily rather than inside on a machine, taking walks, as well as gardening/camping/cannoing, etc should replace the gym.

    Also hiring a babysitter to go grocery shopping is silly as well. It takes us under an hour and is a fun family trip. My kid love homecooked banana bread so she always run to see if the store has discounted bananas.

    And why pay a babysitter when you can give the same money to your kid, teach money management, and let them buy their own candies with their own money if they so choose. My kid prefer to save half of it.

    Most people’s kids spend enough time with strangers as it is when the parents are at work; involving the kids rather than pushing them out is definately healthier in many ways.

  • Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey June 17, 2012, 12:30 am

    Why pay other kids to mow your lawn when you can do it yourself together with the rest of the family? Saves you money and great family bonding as well. I also cancel my gym enrollment during summer because I can jog or walk around the neighborhood and we can have the kids join us, too!

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