6 tips for staying financially fit this summer

Summer can suddenly spring upon us if we’re not prepared for it.

In light of this, many get themselves physically fit (ahead of time) to take advantage of everything the season has to offer. But how’s your budget looking? Are you financially fit for the summer?

With so many different activities available, you don’t want to miss out on one because A) you didn’t prepare for it or B) you didn’t know about it.

What you decide to do with your summer is up to you. Memories with friends and family are ready to be made. Here are a few tips that’ll help keep your budget in shape this season.

Create a vision board for summer activities

The summer months come and go (too) quickly. Create a summer vision board now to motivate you to prioritize your activities and goals. If you do this, you’ll make many good memories — rather than feel burned by regrets.

To start, think and dream about what you want to achieve. Get the family in on the action — brainstorm together so that everyone is represented; it’s fun when you can meet your goals together.

To get specific, let’s say you want to take advantage of all the fantastic beaches in your area. Pin a picture of a beautiful beach, then include specific names of some beaches within a 20-mile radius that you want to enjoy.

Put the board in a place you’ll see every day.

Adjust your budget for additional activities

Summer is filled with free activities, such as movies and concerts in public parks, art festivals and fireworks. However, there are plenty of fun, calendar-worthy outdoor concerts and events that do cost money. If you have several in mind you want to attend, adjust your monthly budget accordingly so that you can afford these seasonal events rather than fall into the credit card trap.

Keep in mind that you can spend just as much money on food, beverages and a concert t-shirt as you did on your ticket. So consider bringing cash only — and leave your credit card at home — so that you don’t overspend. (This is good advice for the farmers market, too. See below.)

What do you currently spend on your cable bill or gym membership? Consider dropping the cable package since you’ll be trading time on your couch with the great outdoors. And take a hiatus from the gym until fall.

Go green — and save some green at the farmer’s market

Fresh fruits and vegetables reign supreme during the summer. You can buy fresh-from-the-farm produce and meats at reasonable prices at your local farmer’s market. Here are some money-saving tips:

  • Make going to the market part of your routine. Buy your favorite goods from the same seller to get deals on bulk items and the scoop on when to expect seasonal items such as strawberries or peaches.1
  • Are you using fresh produce to cook, bake or make jam with? Choose “seconds” or “No. 2s,” which aren’t as pretty as the pristine produce but are just as yummy. You’ll get a better deal and help reduce food waste.1
  • To save even more money, shop near closing time, when vendors are apt to give you a deal because they don’t want to go home with unsold inventory. For example, you might be able to get a bag of apples for half the price.1

Other considerations:

  • Sign up with a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. You’ll receive fresh produce and other products on a regular basis from a farm near you.
  • Bring the kids to a U-Pick Farm that lets you pick your own strawberries, blueberries, peaches and more. The picking season is short, so don’t miss out.

Take advantage of free (or inexpensive) parks, community events and parades

Summer is filled with fun things to do — on the cheap. Dine al fresco in your backyard or pack a picnic and head to your neighborhood park. It’s fun to reconnect with family, friends and neighbors in a casual outdoor setting. Oftentimes, these park settings lend themselves to other fun events — such as free concerts, plays and movies.

Or venture a little farther to a regional or state park where entry fees are inexpensive. You can make a day of exploring part of your state that’s new to you.

Free events and concerts are listed in your community calendar — so check out yours. And don’t miss out on a local Fourth of July parade or county fair.

Go camping (or glamping), or explore uncharted territory

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a fun family getaway. In fact, if you stay within budget, that R&R feeling will last long after your vacation ends.

Enjoy all that our country has to offer. Start with a national park — there are 58 in all.2

Accommodations can be the most costly part of a trip. Consider camping. Though there are a lot of upfront costs of getting quality equipment, it’ll save you money in the long run. Plus, you’ll get to sleep under the stars.

Glamping is another option that offers comfy beds and top-notch amenities in a beautiful setting; it’s a unique experience that could be set in a tent, teepee, treehouse or other out-of-the-box accommodation.3

If camping (or glamping) just isn’t your thing, visit online sites where people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. You can score some inexpensive accommodations in unique settings.

As always, keep contributing to that emergency fund

Emergencies don’t take a break and unforeseen costs still happen in summer. Make sure your emergency fund is healthy to avoid any financial pitfalls. And avoid using money from your emergency fund for your vacation. (You might need to tap into it if you fall off your beach cruiser!)

However you see fit to spend your summer, make it one for the memory books.

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Read articles

1. “Five ways to save money at farmers markets,” startribune.com, June 16, 2018.

2. Bramblett, Reid. “America’s Most Underrated National Parks,” travelandleisure.com, December 13, 2017.

3. “What is Glamping?” Glamping.com 

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