The heat is on! Literally. It is FINALLY warm enough here for working in the garden, wearing shorts, and eating dinner on our patio set in the backyard. Three of my favorite things about summer! :-) One of my LEAST favorite things about summer, however, is how much money we seem to spend! Between trying to stay cool, home improvements, vacationing, eating, and entertaining it seems like the cash just flies out of our wallets.
In light of that, I decided to challenge myself (and you, if you want to play along) this summer!
Here’s the deal: if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, there are about 94 days of summer…if we all set a goal of saving just $7 a day this summer…by to the end of the season, we will have over $650 to show for it! That would go along way towards funding Christmas! Sounds good doesn’t it!? Let’s do it!
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To get us started….here are some ideas that could translate into a nice chunk of change come Labor Day!
Save On Food
- Shop at your local farmer’s market. Buying from farmers eliminates the cost of the middleman and pricey shipping, so you get more value for your dollar, not to mention how much BETTER it tastes! You can also go to a farm that allows you to pick your own produce.
- Gardening and growing your own food is a great way to save on food costs in the summer. It is easy to set up a container garden, and you can have one on a balcony outside your apartment. Herbs, tomatoes and peppers are all easy to grow in containers.
- Pack snacks, especially if you have kids. One of the fastest ways to spend a ton of money while you’re out and about is on food, snacks and drinks. Travel prepared this season by heading to your destination armed with granola bars, fruit snacks, pretzels, almonds, etc.
- Avoid buying pre-packaged, single serving snacks. Instead, buy a large container of your favorite pretzels or chips and divvy them up into zippered plastic bags. This takes some time, but it keeps them fresh and really does help you save on groceries each week.
- Choose less expensive drink options. Water is the cheapest drink, of course. But if your kids want something a little more exciting to drink in the summer, try stocking up on lemonade mix or making your own sports drinks.
Save on Energy
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to turn your air conditioner off! But there are some other ways to save on your energy costs this summer.
- If you have the ability to hang up laundry outside, let the sun and warm summer breeze do the drying for you. Even if you can’t hang up clothes outside, try using your dryer on a lower heat setting or only partially drying your shirts and letting them air dry the rest of the way.
- Wash your clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot. Switching the temperature from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half.
- Replace your standard light bulbs with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent ones.
- Use the microwave or toaster oven to heat up leftovers since they use less energy than a conventional oven.
- Grill outside as often as possible to avoid running the AC at higher settings in order to combat the added heat from the stove.
- Using a slow cooker is another good way to help cut back on the heat generated when cooking in the summer.
- Oh and about that air conditioner—make sure you replace your air conditioner filters. A dirty filter can increase cooling costs by restricting the airflow and the efficiency of the air conditioner.
Save on Gas
Even if you won’t be heading on a cross-country road trip this summer, with the kids out of school you’ll probably be using the car more often than you do during the rest of the year. This means gas costs can really start to add up.
- Fuel prices can vary by 37 cents per gallon within a single zip code. Apps such as GasBuddy find the cheapest spot to fill up weekly. With a 16-gallon tank, in a year you’ll save $308.
- And avoid one of the biggest summer road-trip gas-guzzling culprits: your lead foot. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, every 5 mph that you drive over 60 mph costs you another $0.21 to $0.71 a gallon.
- Want to know how much gas you’ll use during your next road trip? Check out these websites to find out so you can plan accordingly:
Save On Water Use
Water bills can really add up in the summer months. Here are some ways to control it by making small changes to your water usage.
- Encourage your family to take shorter showers (which are much easier on your water bill than baths), and install a low-flow shower head to conserve even more.
- Water your garden thoroughly but infrequently. Water about an inch deep, but only every five to seven days. Opt for succulents or adaptable plants over flowers that require lots of watering.
- Make your garden work for you. If you’re trying to grow what doesn’t flourish in your area, you may be setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary gardening expenses. Increase your garden’s chance of success, and minimize maintenance, by planting what is indigenous to your area. PlantNative.org offers a guide to plants and flowers that are native to various regions.
Save On Entertainment
- The summer is a time full of festivals, outdoor events and parties. Take advantage of these free events in your area. Many cities host a free summer concert series in a park or downtown.
- Search for outdoor screenings of movies. At times the movies may be free, or the charge is less than going to a theater. It can be refreshing to sit outside and enjoy a movie under the stars.
- Or…..hit the drive-in! Drive-ins.com has a searchable database of more than 5,000 drive-in movie theaters nationwide. Not only is it much cheaper than buying individual tickets at a traditional theatre, it’s also a fun way to make lasting summer memories.
Save On Vacations
A long vacation at an expensive resort may not be in your budget, but you can still find ways to relax in the sun over the summer.
- A day trip to a nearby lake with your friends can give you the chance to soak up the sun by the water without costing as much as a trip to the beach.
- If you are within driving distance to the ocean, plan a beach trip with several friends. A big group renting a beach house is much less expensive than getting your own hotel rooms at a resort.
- Camping is another option that is less expensive. You camp at a lake or at the beach, or visit a state or national park for your vacation.
- Planning a few day trips can help you feel like you are enjoying summer without the expense of a long vacation.
As you can see, saving money this summer doesn’t have to be painful. Make just a few small changes and at the end of the summer you’ll have some extra cash in your wallet rather than feeling like you busted the summer budget!
What other tips do you have for saving money during the summer?