We made it! June has arrived and hopefully a spectacularly adventurous and stupendous summer along with it. Even though I’m not in school anymore, there’s just something exciting and refreshing about the months of June, July and August. Maybe it’s my subconscious reminding me how excited I used to get in anticipation of summer vacation. I remember I used to feel like I had an eternity of days before me to do whatever the heck I wanted and it made me giddy with glee.
Like most of you, I no longer get three months of summer vacation, but that’s perfectly alright. I am looking forward to two trips I have in the pipes for the middle and end of summer. And I plan to keep busy working for myself and my consulting clients on the days in between. I’m starting to work on my midyear net worth update – so keep a look out for that – and continue to pursue my income goals. I hope you are still motivated to reach yours as well.
Watch for summertime splurging
The tricky thing about summer is it tends to be a tempting time to spend more money. The weather’s great so you’re probably going out a lot to hang out with friends and grab drinks. You might be traveling for fun and spending more than your day-to-day norm. Many people also end up moving during the summer so you face increased living expenses if you’re relocating to new digs. Or perhaps you just have the itch to empty out your closet and replace your entire wardrobe.
With so many fun things going on, it’s easy to forget about the financial goals we set at the start of the year. Saving for the winter holidays certainly isn’t at the front of our minds either. If you or your kids are headed back to school in the fall you might be starting to think about tuition and supplies, but are probably happy to put that off until August.
Most of us tend to get a bit lazy with our goals in the summer so our focus on personal finance gets a bit hazy. Here are some easy and practical ways to save some money this summer to help keep your money goals on track.
Summer money saving tips
Stay cool for less
Utilities can get super expensive in the summer months, especially if you live in hot, muggy areas like most of the east coast.
The funny thing about summers in San Francisco, however, is they can be freezing! Well, not literally freezing, but easily in the 50s and 60s. It’s rare for us folks in “The City” (go Warriors!) to comfortably wear shorts in the summer months but occasionally we get some nice days in the 70s.
But for those of you in almost any other part of the U.S. or overseas you’re probably facing 85 to 95+ degree days with humidity piled on top. So what can you do to try and save a little on your utility bill?
- Get black out curtains and use ’em – If any rooms in your home get direct sunlight, black out curtains can be worth the premium in price. Not only do they help you sleep better, they can help block out heat. Keeping your blinds and/or curtains closed during peak sunlight hours – like when you’re at work – can really does make a difference.
- Reverse your ceiling fan – If you have a ceiling fan, check the spin direction (usually there’s a switch near the blades to control the direction). Typically the blades should be rotating counterclockwise if you look up at them. You should be able feel the air blowing down if you stand underneath. During the winter you can put the blades in reverse to help keep the room warmer. Ceiling fans use less energy than AC.
- Turn fans off when you leave a room – Believe it or not, fans don’t actually cool down the existing air in a room, even though they make it feel cooler. The key word is “feel” because the movement of the air on our skin is the sensation that makes it seem like the air has cooled down. As a result, if you’re not in a room, leaving a fan on is pointless. Save electricity and turn fans off when you’re not close enough to feel the breeze.
- Change your AC filter – I’m obsessed with changing my furnace filter and if I had an AC I’d do the same. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your AC filter, you’re due for a new one. Clean filters help your unit run more efficiently, reduces allergens and helps avoid unwanted particles circulating in your home.
- Chill out in public spaces – Don’t have AC or want to save money on yours? Hang out at your neighborhood library, community center or the mall to get your frost on. Grocery stores are also fantastic, especially the frozen food aisle. Browse the magazine aisle and pick up some popsicles for later. Pineapple popsicles are hard to beat on a hot day.
- Turn down your water heater – You can also help save money on utilities by turning down the temperature on your hot water heater during the summer. When it’s already hot outside and in, taking super hot showers just isn’t the same as during the chilly days of winter.
- Go raw – Instead of unnecessarily heating up your house by using the oven or stove, try eating more raw foods like salads, fruits and nuts. Charcuterie with some cheese or smoked salmon are also a wonderfully light and tasty meal. I think it’s much easier to eat light meals when the weather is hot so I avoid cooking during the summer (I also avoid cooking in general b/c I’m lazy, haha but that’s another story).
Get better at conserving water.
I’m so used to living in a drought that I forget how so many other parts of the country outside of California have plenty of water. Even if you do, it’s still good practice to only use what you need and save a little bit of money in the process.
- Shower at the gym – If you have a gym membership, hopefully you’re taking advantage of the facilities and showering there. You’re paying for the cost of water in your membership, so might as well use what you’re paying for and save on your water bill at home.
- Collect rain water & leftover ice – Want to impress your friends and neighbors with your water conservation skills? Don’t toss out the leftover ice from your summer bbq’s. Use it to water your flowers or wash hands. If you collect rainwater you can use it to water your lawn, scrub down your porch, wash your car, etc.
- Practice taking military showers – My dad was in the Navy and has always been super fast in the shower as a result. Did you know a normal shower can take 60 gallons of water? Compare that to a military shower, which only takes about 11 gallons. That’s a significant difference! You could save close to 1,500 gallons of water a month simply by changing your shower habits.
- Switch to drought tolerant plants – There’s reason why you see so many succulent and cacti gardens in California – they’re drought tolerant plants! Not only do you save money on water compared to most plants, you save a decent chunk of time because succulents and cacti are super low maintenance.
Travel smarter and get entertained for less.
I travel quite a lot and am really grateful that I’ve been able to see so many cities and countries across the globe. All my time on the road, on trains, buses and planes have taught me a few things to save money in the process.
- Empty your trunk – Gas prices tend to go up during the summer but there are some easy things you can do to help make your payments at the pump less painful. Check your tires and make sure they are property inflated so your car can operate efficiently. It’s also helpful not to keep your car cluttered. Clean out your stuff regularly and keep the trunk empty when you’re not transporting things to help use less gas. Also be sure to check if you’re due for an oil change, tire rotation or other maintenance work.
- Double utilize the weekdays – Renting a car this summer, booking a flight or making hotel reservations? The ugly truth is deals are harder to come by during the peak summer months since companies know travel demand is high. But you can still usually save some money by booking reservations and flights on a weekday for a weekday check-in and check-out. Sometimes pre-paying can also help you save 20-30 percent on your bill.
- Buy tickets and passes in advance – Summertime means crowds and long queues. The lines at places like Disneyland and the Louve in Paris can get down right ridiculous. If you aren’t able to travel in the off peak months, at least don’t waste time waiting in line this summer just to buy tickets to get in. Search for discounts and coupons online and buy tickets online in advance. Double check if your venue requires physically printed tickets or if digital ones are sufficient before you leave home.
- Look for twilight deals – Want to play a round of golf or visit a Turkish bath on your European vacation? Many venues offer discounts during twilight hours or even during early hours. Skip the lines and crowds and take advantage of off-peak hours and lower prices. Wednesday also tends to be the slowest day on the golf course and at many tourist sites.
- Declutter after a vacation – I travel light, really light. No matter where I’m going – a 1 hour road trip or a 12 hour flight across the globe, I never travel with more than a backpack and a purse. When I get home, I’m always so impressed with how little we really need. Decluttering feels awesome after coming back from a vacation. I never miss my stuff at home while I’m away, so it’s much easier to part ways with clutter after a trip. You may feel so refreshed that the list of things you’ve had on your wish list to buy for months no longer seem worth the expense.
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