Summer is one of America’s favorite seasons for spending. It’s a time to take vacations, tackle big home improvement projects and spend money on events like weddings, concerts, parties and family reunions.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer looks very different than what we are used to. This year, Americans will be taking fewer or different types of vacations and skipping typical summer events, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t be tempted to spend money!
Without our usual go-to activities, we may be tempted to entertain ourselves with online shopping, lots of takeout and expensive purchases that make staying at home more fun. We’ve gathered our top tips to keep your savings high this summer without sacrificing your summer fun.
7 Tips to Keep Your Summertime Spending Under Control
- Make a Summer Budget
- Invest Your Summer Vacation Money
- Make a Family Savings Goal for 2021
- Purchase Upcycled Seasonal Items, Patio Furniture, Fitness Equipment and Playsets
- Save on Yard Maintenance and Home Improvements
- Recreate Your Favorite Summer Activities at Home
- Look for Local Takeout Specials at Your Favorite Restaurants
Make a Summer Budget
In addition to your regular expenses, it’s always a good idea to make a budget that includes seasonal expenses. If you already have a budget for your personal finances, you can add line items for summer spending. Try to be as specific as possible with your financial planning. It’s always better to overestimate your summertime spending and end up with money left over.
Top Dollar Tip: Use a Budget Planning Spreadsheet
Thinking about your budget won’t do- you’ve got to put it on paper! Check out this budget planning spreadsheet that you can customize to track your summer spending.
Our copy is locked for editing, but you can make a copy and save your own version for editing by clicking on the file tab and selecting make a copy. To add your summer expenses, update the fields in the non-consistent expenses column.
Invest Your 2020 Summer Vacation Money
Was your vacation cancelled due to COVID-19? Invest your vacation money! OK, so this tip is less fun, but could pay off in the long run. If you had a vacation planned and it was cancelled, take whatever money you didn’t spend and put it into a savings account or invest in a low to moderate risk portfolio through an investment app.
Start Your Emergency Fund!
If you don’t already have an emergency fund, consider using the vacation money to start one. Learn more about why you need one and 6 tips for getting started.
Top Dollar Tip: Start an Investment Account with Stash
Stash allows you to begin investing with as little as $5 and acts as your personal investment advisor. The app has many features that will show you how your money can grow over time. There are hundreds of stocks and trade options available for no additional fees.
The app will automatically invest your funds into a diverse portfolio and allows you to buy fractional shares, which is useful if you are starting out with a small amount of money. You can also link your Stash savings to a bank account and withdraw your funds in two business days when you want to access your cash.
Make a Family Savings Goal for 2021
Get the whole family involved by making a family savings goal for 2021. You can either work together and save for the same thing, like a family vacation, or each family member can decide on something they would like to save for.
Top Dollar Tip: Make it a Friendly Family Competition!
Set weekly goals and make it fun by turning it into a competition. For example, parents can have their school-aged kids compete by earning money for chores. Whoever earns the most money for the savings fund each week gets a special prize!
Purchase Upcycled Seasonal Items, Patio Furniture, Fitness Equipment and Playsets
Seasonal items, such as patio furniture, outdoor equipment and summer sports gear, typically go on sale later in the summer. However, if you don’t want to wait, try looking for gently used furniture on resale sites like Craigslist, Mercari, Offerup and Letgo.
Things to look for on resale sites:
- Kiddie Pools
- Pool Equipment
- Bikes and Scooters
- Patio Furniture
- Jet Skis
- Canoes and Kayaks
- Camping Equipment
- Stationary Bikes and Weight Sets
Top Dollar Tip: Buy Used Camp Chairs and Relax in Your Local Park
Check out a list of the best camp chairs for summer 2020.
Not everyone has a big backyard to lounge in, but you probably have a local park with plenty of greenspace. Find some used camping chairs and take them to your local park where you can sit and enjoy the warm weather with a good book.
Enjoy Used Items Safely
You can make sure that upcycled items are safe for use by thoroughly cleaning them with disinfectant and doing no-contact pickups with all of the recommended COVID-19 precautions suggested by the CDC.
Save on Yard Maintenance and Home Improvements
Spending a lot of time at home can motivate you to handle your own yard maintenance or finally tackle some home improvement projects. Hiring a landscaper or contractor is expensive, so opt for projects that you can safely do yourself.
Easy Projects for Beginners
- Mowing and Maintaining Your Lawn
- Planting Flowers or a Vegetable Garden
- Installing a Bird Bath or Simple Garden Fountain
- Repainting Your Interior Walls
- Installing Wallpaper or Blinds
- Power Washing an Old Deck or Patio
- Recaulking Your Bathroom or Kitchen
Moderately Difficult Project That Require Special Tools
- Installing a New Sink
- Replacing or Installing New Molding and Trim
- Redoing Landscaping Around Your House
- Build a New Retaining Wall for Your Garden
- Adding a Kitchen Backsplash
Difficult Projects You Should Leave to the Pros (Unless You Are One!)
- Electrical Work
- Replacing Major Components of Your Kitchen or Bathroom
- Installing Hardwood or Tile Flooring
- Building a New Deck
- Installing a Pool
- Tearing Down Walls
- Roofing and Siding
- Concrete and Paving
Top Dollar Tip: Plant a Garden!
Planting a garden is a great project that can bring the whole family together and add beauty and function to your backyard or porch. The same goes for doing your own landscaping and lawn care maintenance; DIYing your own gardening will help you save money, plus it’s a great way to stay active outdoors.
Recreate Your Favorite Summer Activities at Home
Love going to the local pool to cool off? Set up a kiddie pool in your backyard and save on the cost of summer pool pass.
Bummed you can’t go to a concert or the theater? Check out video recorded performances available for online streaming. Get dressed up and enjoy that you can sing and cheer along without anyone shushing you!
Think about what it is you love most about your favorite summer pastimes and try to recreate the spirit of those activities from the comfort and safety of your own home.
Top Dollar Tip: Movie Nights with a Portable Projector!
Check out a list of the 6 Best Outdoor Movie Projectors.
Going to the movies to watch summer blockbusters is a highlight of the summer for many people. While some parks may offer movies with social distance precautions, you can create your own outdoor or indoor big screen movie watching experience with a projector, laptop computer and some speakers.
You can project a movie onto a large wall in your backyard or living room, or set up a white screen or curtain. There are projectors for every budget. In some cases, for the cost of taking a family of four to the movies once or twice, you can enjoy movies all summer long.
Look for Local Takeout Specials at Your Favorite Restaurants
Your favorite restaurants and small businesses are working hard to keep serving your community. Many are offering specials to help customers get the most value out of their order. You can search for updated specials online.
Top Dollar Tip: Skip the Takeout Apps and Order Directly from The Restaurant
Takeout apps are convenient, but they can take a pretty big cut out of the restaurant’s profits. Most mom and pop restaurants allow ordering through the apps or the old fashioned way – picking up the phone and placing an order directly.
Extra Savings When You Order Direct
Some restaurants may even have special offers for customers who order directly from the restaurant or through the restaurant’s own online ordering system.
Take your takeout orders to a local park and make it a picnic!
Vacation Close to Home and Avoid Flying
Flying for nonessential travel is out for 2020, as is traveling internationally. This doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the house for a change of scenery. Look for destinations you can reach by car to avoid flying, and make sure you are choosing destinations where you’ll be able to social distance.
Top Dollar Tip: Camping and Hiking!
Camping is a great way to vacation and save money. It’s also a great way to vacation while social distancing. The secluded nature of camping and hiking is part of its appeal. Campgrounds are usually much less expensive than hotels, and you can pack most of your food items to cook on a camp stove or open fire. We recommend looking for campgrounds you can reach in a day’s drive from where you live.
Make Sure You Have the Right Gear
If you are a first time camper, make sure you have the right gear and don’t forget the essentials. Camping equipment can be quite expensive, so if you don’t already own some, considering borrowing from a friend or renting through a service like Arrive Outdoors.
If you aren’t up for an overnight stay outdoors, consider a day trip to a local state park with hiking trails. Be sure to call ahead and make sure that campgrounds and trails are open before planning your trip.
Have a safe and happy summer!