Who doesn’t love the summer months? With the sun shining and temperatures rising, we tend to feel the need to fill our diaries with plans to make the most of this – like drinks with your friends in the closest beer garden, outdoor food festivals, and trips away (whether that's abroad or a bit closer to home).
And if you have kids, you've probably organised various activities to keep them occupied during the 6 weeks that they're off school.
But this often means you're more relaxed with your budget – and these things can get expensive fast.
Here are some tips to help you budget without missing out on the summer fun.
1. Set a budget in advance
If you have a budget you try to stick to each month, you’ll know how easy it is to overspend it when the sun is shining, your friends have asked if you’d like to do something out of the blue, and you don’t want to be struck down with FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out).
As hard as it is with all the spontaneity that the summer months bring, planning ahead could be the best way to ensure that you’re at least tucking some money away. So, for each thing you have planned (like a meal out or day at the beach), try to set a budget for how much you’ll spend.
Maybe even consider taking a set amount of physical cash out with you, deleting your Apple Pay off your phone, and leaving your bank cards at home.
2. Make your saving automatic
If your money is sitting in your bank readily available, it can be all too easy to spend it. So, why not make it a habit that as soon as you get paid, you transfer a portion of your paycheck straight into your savings account so that it’s out of sight, out of mind?
However, just make sure you calculate how much you’ll need for your set bills and other likely outgoings first. Otherwise, you’ll defeat the point of this exercise by dipping into your savings later.
And if you’re happy to save the same amount each month, then you could even set up a standing order so that your savings move over automatically on a specified date.
3. Be smart with your energy use
With gas and electricity bills as high as they are, you’re probably thrilled at the thought of not having to put your heating on for a few months. But with the threat of a heatwave and British homes being made to retain heat, there’s only so long you can hold on without plugging a fan in.
But how much does it cost to run one? Well, according to uSwitch, using a desktop fan for 9 hours while you sleep could cost you around £0.67 from 1st July 2023, compared to £1.26 for a pedestal fan.1 This may not seem like much, but if you used a pedestal every night in July, this would add up to almost £40.
One thing you could do is invest in a fan with a timer, so that it automatically switches off when you fall asleep. And if you do have to use one, make sure you’re doing so efficiently by not opening the windows at the same time – if it’s particularly hot outside, the fan will only blow hot air around.
4. Refresh your wardrobe cheaply
During the summer months, we can feel the need to splash out on a new wardrobe – especially if you’ve got a couple of nights out or a holiday planned. After all, half the fun of going away is buying new outfits.
But before giving into the temptation, you should have a look at the summer clothes you already own. If you haven’t looked at them for a year, then you probably don’t remember what you have – and chances are, there are items you still like or ones you didn’t get round to even taking the tags off.
And if there are items you can’t see yourself wearing again, then why not sell them? You could list them online (there are plenty of websites, like eBay, Vinted and Depop), or even pack them in your car, set an early morning alarm, and try to shift them at a car boot sale.
If you really can’t resist the urge to purchase clothes, you could put any money you make towards them, as well as look out for sales and discounts, or see if you can buy what you want second hand.
5. Pause your gym membership
Summer’s warmer, drier weather and lighter mornings and evenings provide a great opportunity to take your workout outside. So, if your gym offers the option to do so, then it may be worth pausing your gym membership for a bit.
Going to the gym is now said to cost £40 a month. So, going off the assumption that you pay this much for yours and can freeze your membership without having to pay anything, then you could save £120 if you stopped going for three months.2
So, why not switch the treadmill for runs in your local park (you could even join a free Park Run group) and the Stairmaster for walks around your estate? Or if you have them already (and aren’t too worried about nosy neighbours watching you), you could take your yoga mat or kettlebell out into your garden and do your workouts there.
6. Find free fun things to do
Having a good summer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, you may be able to do various fun and exciting things for free!
For example, you could head to the nearest beach or park with your friends and family and simply enjoy each other’s company. All you need is a ball to throw or kick around and some snacks.
Also, don’t forget to do some research to find free (or affordable) events going on in your area. You may want to check your council’s website to see what’s happening nearby or even join local Facebook groups to find out what others are up to. Many small business owners use these as an advertising tool, after all.
7. Swap nights out for nights in
As nice as it feels to have a drink in a pub garden, why not make your own in your (or a friend or family member’s) garden instead?
Although someone will have to take on the role of chef or bartender for the day, buying food and drinks from a supermarket (and having everyone chip in) could work out a lot cheaper than buying them in the pub. And you won’t have to struggle to find a table either!
Meals out can also be replaced with barbecues in the garden or on the beach – and again, you could get everyone to chip in when it comes to buying the food, or even ask everyone to bring a different item so that the expense doesn’t just fall on the host – after all, they’ll be the one doing the cooking!
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