Summer’s here and it’s time to celebrate in the sun. Money experts love to talk about how expensive the winter holiday season is, but fail to warn families how pricey the summer holidays can be too. Unlike the Christmas holidays, that last only a few days, the summer holiday is a two month long event. Providing much more opportunity to overspend. With endless vacations, BBQ with friends and last minute dinner plans, the costs can add up.
The most recent BMO Bank of Montreal survey of summer spending found Canadians plan to spend an average of $5,605 during the hot summer months. The majority of that on entertaining friends and family and travel. Here are some tips to keep your budget on track all summer long.
Plan and stock up
We know summer is all about the last minute get together. Be ready for all your spontaneous parties on the patio and dinner plans, by doing a big bulk shop now. Stock up on essentials like burgers and hot dogs, get some frozen vegetables to make a quick stir fry. Have a good variety of mixers ready to go for the adult drinks. This mean if you make plans in the morning to have a party that afternoon, your shopping is already 75 per cent done. Planning is key to keeping your budget in check.
Keep it Local
Vacations are expensive, especially those taken outside the country. In many cases you have to fly to your destination. With our Canadian dollar being lower our buying power is not as strong either. According to the survey, Canadians can spend more than $2000 alone on summer vacations. Keep your costs down by traveling to places in Canada you can drive too. Maybe you can be hyper local, by having a staycation right in your own backyard.
Get energy efficient
Summer is hot, and it can get uncomfortable without AC, but that doesn’t mean you have to run it all day. You can cut your energy bill by 15 per cent by using a programmable thermostat, which keeps the home cooler at night for sleeping, but warmer when everyone is out of the house. Keep air vents closed in the basement and make sure your window shades are turned down so your AC is not competing with the heat from the sun. Also check that the door and windows seals are in good shape so cold air isn’t escaping.
Keeping your kids busy in the summer can be a challenge. Often it seem like the only options are expensive camps and pricey amusement parks. Focus on the free events offered in your area. Visit your city website to see what’s happening near you, there are events near playgrounds and community centres that cost nothing. Next focus on city run programs rather than the more expensive private ones. Join your local parents Facebook group to post questions and keep in the know of what’s happening around you.
Regardless of what your plans are this summer, it’s important to make a rough budget of what you can afford to spend. This will help keep your bank balance in check.
By Rubina Ahmed-Haq