Here in the northeast, it was a long, cold winter, and early spring wasn’t much better. Thankfully, it has finally warmed up, the trees have leaves, and the gardens are coming back to life. I love spring and summer every year, but have a special appreciation of them this year. But spring and summer also bring financial challenges, requiring extra vigilance about spending.
- Income. The biggest financial challenge for our family is that my job is only during the school year, so I don’t have a regular paycheck during the summer. My income is a very small percentage of our overall household income, but it does cover several bills each month, and we miss it. This year I’m making a conscious effort to bring in several hundred dollars in income each month via my small business and other side hustles.
- Meals. Is it me, or does everything taste better in the summer? We love to grill and eat outside on our deck for as many months as the weather allows. But grilling typically means meat and/or fish, both of which can be pricey. For the first time, I’m really tracking meat prices at our stores, and stocking up when I can get it for great prices. (Fish is trickier, so we’ll probably only be having it as a treat once a month.) We also have a BJ’s membership this year (purchased via an amazing Groupon deal), and will buy in bulk when that’s a better buy. And, while I’ve dabbled in vegetable gardening in the past, this year I’m doing it with an eye toward replacing as many produce purchases as possible. I’m attempting succession gardening, meaning planting things throughout the growing season, to maximize the harvest.
- Activities. Both my daughter, who’s four, and I will are home over the summer. She has five weeks of morning camp, but there will still be several camp-free weeks, plus afternoons, to fill with activities. There are many great things to do in the warm weather, and it’s easy to be tempted to participate in non-free activities. Fortunately, we have quite a few great playgrounds in our area, a wonderful farmer’s market twice weekly, a fantastic library, and lots of friends. We’ll also be maximizing our membership to the local children’s museum. (I did pay for the annual membership last fall, but it has already more-than paid for itself. Using it weekly this summer with just be icing on the cake. ) I’m not saying we’ll never spend any money on activities this summer, but it will be done in a much more intentional way.
- Treats. Ice cream, snow cones, and lemonade – oh my! This is a particularly difficult challenge for me. I love summer treats, and my daughter inherited this trait. While we will be indulging in these treats periodically, I will also be making sure to carry lots of snacks with us when we’re out and about, as well as timing outings so that we’ve had a meal beforehand.
I’m confident that I can have a more frugal summer this year with additional planning, plus ensuring that I’m supplementing our income to pay for the occasional indulgences.
What about your family? What challenges does your budget face during the summer? What strategies have you developed to keep costs down and still enjoy the summer?