Ah, the lazy days of summer! It’s the perfect season to sit back and relax, preferably by the pool while enjoying a piña colada. But then again, summer is also a prime time to improve your financial wellness. With a slower pace of life in the hotter months and plenty of energizing sunshine on the horizon from morning to night, this is an excellent season to get ahead of your financial goals.
Ready to up your financial smarts this summer? Here are seven things you can tick off your financial to-do list before autumn arrives.
1. Get Better at Budgeting
The fun and relaxed attitude of summer is awesome – but not when it spills over into irresponsible financial decisions. To make sure your summertime spending doesn’t get too spontaneous, use the season’s activity-packed days as an opportunity to get better at budgeting. Spending an evening at the county fair? Headed to the lake an entire week? No matter the activity, make a concrete plan on how much you can afford to spend and stick to your budget, instead of letting future you deal with the financial fallout.
2. Cut Energy Expenses
Many people assume that energy costs will be lower in summer, because there’s no heating to worry about. In reality, energy consumption and prices usually rise along with the temperature – and on especially hot days, when power companies are contending with intermittent AC surges, your wallet can take a major hit. This summer, make a concerted effort to reduce AC use and instead cool off with a visit to the swimming pool or a stroll around the mall. You’ll be saving money and saving energy; a net win for both you and the environment.
3. Start a Holiday Savings Account
Sure, December is six months away. But with the winter holidays being one of the most financially stressful times of the year for many families, there’s no time like the present to get your savings account in good shape. Grow financial wellness for the future with a special savings account or even just a jar on the kitchen counter where you can squirrel away a few loose bills every week. By the time end-of-year expenses roll around, you’ll be thrilled to have tucked away a little something extra over the summer.
4. Stop Subscriptions You Don’t Need
While reviewing your monthly bank statements might not sound quite as fun as settling down next to the pool with the summer’s hottest paperback thriller – we promise that it will be a whole lot more beneficial to your life in the long-term. Reserve an hour indoors, pour a tall glass of iced tea and then pour over your last few months of statements. Pay close attention to regular debits from your account and make note of where these are coming from – chances are, at least one is for a subscription service you rarely or never use.
5. Invest in Your Home
Don’t let the endless hours of sunshine go to waste! Summer is the recommended season for all kinds of home maintenance, from exterior painting to gutter cleaning to patio scrubbing. The time you invest in your home over the summer can bring future financial wellness by making your home into a more valuable asset. And if you’re considering larger changes to your house during the warmer months, considering tapping into your home equity for a loan or line of credit to help you fund repairs, remodeling or renovation at a better rate than you’d get with a traditional credit card or personal loan.
6. Shop the Sales
Summer sales are a great time to save money, as long as you shop them smartly. Don’t go to the mall or log on to your favorite online shop with only a vague idea of what you want. Make a plan, make a list and most importantly – make a budget. Think about off-season clothing, shoes, school supplies, sports equipment and so on that you’ll definitely need when winter or fall rolls around. If you can get a discount on it in the summer, buy it; and if you don’t really need it, move on.
7. Try New Financial Tech
Many people use the summer as inspiration to try a new sport, a new look or a new hobby – so why not do the same for your financial tools? There are many fun, easy to use, extremely valuable apps available to download straight to your smartphone – from monthly budgeting apps, to goal-tracking tools, to programs that help you calculate tips and split the bill, and much more. Download a few this summer and play around to see what works for you and your financial wellness needs.