It’s probably no surprise that summer is the most expensive time of the year. The cost of road trips, outdoor concerts, and summer camp for the kids adds up. A study by MassMutual showed that half of Americans spend more money during the summer than other seasons. Women were more likely than men to report that they spend more in the summer months, especially due to the fear of missing out on fun social events and activities.
Prioritize Your Plans
I believe people spend more money during the summer because they’re trying to fit everything in before the weather cools off, from home renovations to vacations. To avoid overspending, I try to pick one or two main priorities for my summer instead of doing everything I want to do.
For example, my spouse wants to start building a teardrop camper before winter hits because the work will be easier to do outside. Since it’s going to cost about $3,000 to build this travel trailer, we decided not to go on a big road trip this summer to save some money.
However, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to enjoy our summer. We’ve already taken a short staycation and might take off a few more days before summer ends. We’re also planning to explore cities that are closer to home within a two or three hour drive before winter sets in and roads get icy.
Find Cheaper Alternatives
That brings me to my next point—finding cheaper alternatives. My spouse and I were looking forward to going on a big road trip this summer. But we couldn’t afford both our travel trailer project and an expensive vacation. So we decided to go on shorter day and weekend trips to visit nearby cities instead.
If some of the activities on your summer bucket list aren’t in your budget, there are usually cheaper alternatives. Say you really want to go to a few concerts over the course of the summer, but can’t afford to pay for tickets. Most cities and towns have outdoor concert series that are completely free. All you have to do is bring your own blanket, drinks, and snacks and have a fun evening!
You don’t have to stay inside all summer to reign in your spending. You just have to put some effort into finding free or cheap activities you enjoy.
Stay Off of Social Media
MassMutual reported that fear of missing out is a major reason why women overspend during the summer. As a long-time sufferer of FOMO, I suggest staying off of social media as much as possible. Seeing photos and videos of other people’s summer fun will only intensify your FOMO.
Although we’re all aware that social media is a highlight reel of the best moments of people’s lives, scrolling through it can still make you feel like you’re getting left behind. If the main highlight of your summer was a short road trip while your friend’s was a trip to Europe, you’re probably going to feel bad scrolling through the pictures of her vacation. Although you’re happy to see your friends and family having a great time, you may feel disappointed if your summer itinerary isn’t as exciting as theirs.
To make matters worse, social media is full of influencers whose job is to make you want their lifestyle. If you get jealous of their glossy vacation photos, you may be tempted to blow your budget and book that international trip you can’t afford. That’s why it’s best to stay off of social media and get out into nature while the weather is nice. You won’t get stuck in the comparison trap and will feel more grateful for the experiences you can afford this summer—rather than focusing on the ones you can’t.
Get a Side Hustle
Sometimes you have no choice but to spend more during the summer and can’t find cheaper alternatives. For example, you might have to pay for summer childcare or a plane ticket to your best friend’s wedding even if it stretches your budget. In that case, finding a way to generate more income can help you avoid debt.
Studies have shown that half of the people whose spending increases during the summer go into debt. Getting a seasonal side hustle can give you a little more financial wiggle room. If you live in a tourist town like I do, there may be museums, restaurants, tourist attractions, or visitors bureaus that need seasonal help. State parks and summer camps also hire workers for the summer. You could also consider being a lifeguard, starting up a lawncare side hustle, or becoming an SAT tutor (many students are looking to sharpen their test-taking skills during summer break).
Is summer the most expensive time of the year for you, or is it another season? How do you try to limit your spending during the warmer months so you don’t blow your budget? Share your tips in the comments section below!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.