How to Lower Summer Expenses & Maximize Savings
Posted: June 24 2020
By: Daniela Bucay
The internet is full of guides on how to battle increased summer expenses, which can often skyrocket due to higher energy use, more meals at home once the kids are out of school, and more outings as a family to take advantage of the nicer weather. This summer, however, is sure to be a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic still sweeping the nation (and many parts of the globe). We at Fig have put together this guide to help you combat those increased expenses, while accounting for the different options available this year compared to other years.
Summer Cost Fast Fig Facts
- Energy costs often increase in summer due to more time at home and hotter temperatures
- Food costs can increase because children are no longer getting meals at school
- Keeping the family occupied during their time off from school or work can also strain the budget
- Cutting back on food, energy, and entertainment costs without sacrificing comfort and fun is possible!
Read on below for more information on how to keep yourself financially fit this summer and go into the fall with money confidence!
Did you know that tens of millions of kids get at least one of their meals through the school lunch (or breakfast) program? When school is out, many of these kids miss out on meals, as their families often cannot meet the increased demand. Luckily, many states, including Texas, offer programs to ensure these kids do not go hungry. In Texas, you can find more information here. If you're not in Texas, you can browse your state's specific Summer Food Service programs here.
Another way to lower the cost of food for those meals you do have to have at home is to hack the grocery store. Use the coupon section of the weekly ad or, even better, your grocery store's app, to figure out the best deals on food, and make a meal plan around that. Meal planning can lead to big savings by cutting down on food waste and maximizing how many recipes use on-sale ingredients. This blog post has a lot of good ideas, some more extreme than others, on how to cut back food costs without going hungry!
If you're trying to keep your kids engaged (more on trimming entertainment expenses below), gamify the experience. Give a small, inexpensive or free reward (maybe a weekend free from chores?) to the kid who comes up with the most budget-friendly meal plan using the coupons provided by your grocery store. This will not only help achieve the goal of lowering expenses, but it will also give the kids valuable experience in learning how to manage their own household costs! If they need something to do other than watch TikTok (finally caved and downloaded this weekend, huge mistake), let them help you in the kitchen.
When the summer temperatures start to climb, so do the electric, gas, and water bills, typically. There are definitely steps you can take to reduce your energy intake and save money, however, it might require getting creative.
This post shares some great tips on how to lower your energy bill. If you rent, you may not be able to install a programmable thermostat or a ceiling fan, but you can still adjust your thermostat when you're not in a room so that no A/C runs. Also, try to minimize energy leakage by keeping curtains drawn and making sure you're well-insulated. If you cannot control your insulation by caulking the area around windows, a rolled-up t-shirt can work well, too!
Bustle offers some less traditional tips for lowering home energy use, like putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan (wild) or even increasing the number of plants in your home! We second the idea of plants because plants can not only improve your air quality (hugely helpful when there is an airborne respiratory disease ruining our fun), but they can also help with your mood and provide shade. More importantly, taking care of plants gives you something to do that doesn't rely on the internet!
Summer means no school, which also means no sports, no after-school programs, and decreased contact with other kids. All of this can increase the pressure at home to keep the kids busy, safe, and having fun, which in turn can drive up costs.
With the pandemic shutting down summer camps around the country, and the usual inexpensive entertainment standbys off the table (public parks, mini golf, etc), you might wonder, with despair, what your kids will do all day.
Luckily for us, America's librarians have been hard at work adapting their valuable public offerings to suit the current moment. Many libraries, even if they remain closed, have left their WiFi on and allow patrons to use it as a hotspot. They have also made many of their titles available to read digitally. You can check out comics, movies, and more from the library. One summer, I built my entire music library from CDs I checked out from the local library. Make sure you have your library card ready to go and talk to your local librarian to see how your local library can partner with you to make this summer fun!
Birding is a weirdly exciting activity well-suited to young kids, who love to notice the outside world, and which doesn't cost a lot. Pick up an Audubon guide from your local library, invest in an inexpensive pair of binoculars, and get outside. Birding is like catching Pokémon in real life, and you can easily make it competitive by awarding small prizes (an extra hour of computer time, maybe?) to the person who finds the most birds!
Another summer favorite is crafting! Friendship bracelets are super portable, easy to make, and inexpensive (a pack of 36 colors of string costs $5 at Michael's). You can also find other inexpensive craft activities, like tie-dye, which you can make even less expensive by creating your own dye.
These "other" costs might be costs you regularly have, but have not really thought about, because they form part of your regular budget. If you have subscriptions that eat a certain amount of your monthly budget, consider cutting back on them where possible. You can use Trim, a free app, to see how you can save money on recurring subscriptions. Once again, consider getting on a family plan with friends for certain services, like Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Amazon, and Spotify. Many of these services allow you to have multiple users on a family plan and can really cut costs if everyone pools together!
Another cost you may be able to lower is your car insurance. Talk to your insurance company to see if they can revise rates for you now that you are using your car less (if you are indeed using it less). There might be hidden savings there!
If you find that your budget is strained, and none of these tips work for you, it might be time to consider talking to a nonprofit financial advisor! Many local nonprofits offer credit counseling to families that enroll in their programs. These financial advisors can provide strategies or insights into your spending habits that can lead to savings you didn't know were possible!
Whatever your situation this summer, we hope you have a good one. If you have any tips on how to beat the summer heat (and boredom) without spending tons of money, please let us know! We're open to tips at email@example.com, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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