Let me be clear: I love the summer. It’s a time to get out and be active, both physically and socially. Schedules for music, theatre, and other multifarious summer activitiesÂ and events suddenly explode into action, inviting participation in the long, warm evenings after a day at work. The outdoors beckon with the promise of weekends spent in natural surroundings. Restaurants, local businesses and other venues yawn into the open air, inviting passers-by. SomeÂ of us might plan vacations to far-flung locales.
And yet, all the potential energy of summer activities can be contrasted against the challenges of maintaining stable financial health and avoiding overspending. Looking to unwind this summer without winding up with extra debt? Read on for our favourite suggestions.
As much as it can be a bit of a pain to become oversaturated with incoming events and invitations, social media can be an excellent tool not only for seeking out things to do during the summer, but also to determine which events will best suit your budget. In Vancouver, for example, interested parties can join a Facebook group devoted solely to promoting free or low-cost summer activitiesÂ such as outdoor films, musical performances, creative workshops and art installations. Similar groups exist in many Canadian cities.
Yelp is also a fairly valuable resource in this regard: while not tuned in to a social events matrix, it can assist users by sorting available options for entertainment, food and/or nightlife by their average price as well as a range of other factors, including assessment of accessibility by foot, bike or transit. Using social and mobile tools to find better deals for your next evening out will be able to help extend the reach of your entertainment budget.
As the temperature rises, it can be tempting to crank up air conditioning (if you have it) to stay cool, or to use other electrically-intensive methods that will add up on your energy bills. It is estimated that savings of 1 degree on your thermostat translate to 3% impact on energy use. If you’re keen to avoid the heat, you can consider using an evaporative cooling unit: though most effective in drier climes, these are less expensive to purchase and more energy-efficient than a traditional air conditioning system. Replace filters and check for mechanical issues to further improve efficiency of any cooling machinery. Auditing the energy efficiency of your living space will improve the comfort and the cost of living.
Plan in Advance
Summer is the high season for travel and leisure bookings, and therefore not the best time to consider purchasing tickets or accommodations. Build these types of plans into your budget well in advance, and take advantage of the cost savings that can be found by booking during less active times of year. This will give you something to look forward to as the summer season approaches, and create a disincentive to indulge on a more spur-of-the-moment basis. Going out with friends? Agree to share, consolidate or split the cost of various parts of your plans beforehand rather than at the close of the day or evening.
Control with Cash
We’ve talked about the psychological and practical advantages of using cash over credit or debit-based methods of spending in a previous Progressa blog. This strategy is particularly useful in the summer months, when many more potential spending opportunities are present. If you’re planning a get-together or outing, leave the cards at home. This will help ensure that your entertainment budget doesn’t burn you more quickly than the sun might!