How to Start Saving for the Summer

The summer months will soon be upon us, and now is the time to start saving for your summer activities. Whether you’re planning to take a luxurious vacation or just want to spend extra time with the family, the following tips will help you save your money to have your best summer ever. Read on to learn what you should start implementing today.

Trim Your Budget

If you haven’t started already, now is the perfect time to get a budget in place and stick to it. While creating a budget can feel overwhelming, it’s significantly easier when you look at it as a financial check-up. Look for ways you can save, including cutting back on carry-out, skipping trips to the movies or getting rid of those streaming services you’re no longer using. These small cuts will save you hundreds of dollars before summer begins.

Start a Vacation Account

One of the prime things people look forward to during the summer is going on vacation. With the average American spending north of a thousand dollars on their seasonal trip, there is a possibility of going into debt to have a fun time. To avoid this common pitfall, it’s integral to save money for your vacation, and one of the best ways to do this is by opening an account strictly for vacation funds. A savings account will also increase in value thanks to favorable interest rates, allowing you to gain even more money for your trip.

Sell Extra Stuff

One of the benefits of spring cleaning is finding all those extra things you don’t need. However, just because you don’t need them doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t. To start raising money for summer, consider hosting a garage sale to get rid of all those knick-knacks, extra clothing and odds-and-ends. Not only will you earn some extra cash, but you’ll also be rehoming things that someone else could really use.

Check Appliances

How are your appliances holding up? During the winter months, you likely weren’t letting your AC unit blare, but problems may have set in that season. There’s nothing worse than turning on your unit for the first time only to discover it’s not working, or have it quit working on the hottest day of the year. Luckily, a certified AC specialist will be able to make sure your system will work properly. Your AC system isn’t the only thing you should examine either. Now is the perfect time to look at installing energy-efficient appliances as well as making small decisions like washing clothes in cold water to save money on your energy bills.

Book Your Vacation Now

You’re excited to take the kids on vacation this year as soon as school ends, and now is the perfect time to book those summer plans. Many hotels and attractions will offer early-bird discounts on their services, allowing you to save hundreds of dollars. The best part? Many prices are simply lock-in, meaning you won’t have to pay until you reach your destination, allowing you to spend your vacation fund.

Pay Down Debt

While not the most fun item on our list, paying down debt should be a top concern. Look at lowering your credit card bills and catching up on late items when you can to ensure you go into the summer either debt-free or with a significant reduction in your bills. Your bank account will thank you.

Shop Smarter and Coupon

One of the best things about Spring and Summer are all the fresh produce that comes in season. From apples to zucchini, you’ll find that a plethora of produce is now available to you. Take this as your sign to shop smarter, focusing on products that are in season to significantly lower your grocery bill. Consider couponing to save on essentials like hygiene products. By shopping sales and couponing, you can save hundreds of dollars a month. Finally, remember that many businesses will offer spring sales, so now is the perfect time to buy bigger ticket items you’ll utilize this summer.

Turn Off the Heater

Depending on where you are in the world, you may be experiencing some wonderful weather right now, even if for just a few hours a day. Take the time to turn off your heater and open up your windows to allow fresh air to flow in your home while keeping yourself at a comfortable temperature.

Look for Free Events

Does your town offer a Spring Festival? A collection of local musicians? As the weather warms up, more and more areas will be offering free events for families to attend. From fairs to park concerts, your town likely has an assortment of free or very low-cost events that you can spend a few hours at on the weekends. These events are an excellent option for those looking to have some fun without breaking the bank before their vacation.

Get Outside for Exercise

If the gym doesn’t motivate you, consider moving your workouts outside. Many people find outdoor exercise invigorating as well as worry-free. You’ll be getting your daily dose of vitamin D while also burning calories for swimsuit season. Furthermore, look to see if your neighborhood has a walking or hiking group so you can talk to your neighbors while getting fit.

Save Your Tax Refund

One thing most people look forward to is their annual tax refund, and it can help make your vacation the best yet. Take the time to save as much as your refund as you can to make the most of your trip. While it can feel like that money is burning a hole in your pocket, it can go far if you save it for a specific event.

Saving for your summer doesn’t have to be a painful process. Whether you create a vacation account to save money for your dream trip, shop seasonally to get the best grocery bills or attend your city’s free events, you can save plenty of money this year while also having the best summer possible.

Saving Money in the Spring

Spring cleaning will soon be upon us, but it’s also a perfect time to start saving and get your finances in order. From shopping within your own home to cooking what’s in season, Spring offers plenty of opportunities to save money for the rest of your year.

Shop in Your Own Home

While most people will take this as looking through their closets (which you should definitely do as well), shopping in your own home isn’t limited to clothing. When you start cleaning, really look at everything you have. Do you have a lot of kitchen gadgets? How about tools like hammers and screwdrivers? Shopping around your home allows you to see exactly what you have and narrow down what you actually need. You’ll be shocked by how many duplicates you have floating around the house, and Spring is the perfect time to clear everything out and find those hidden treasures you forgot you owned.

Make Your Cleaners

Cleaning supplies and organizers are expensive, but you don’t need to spend all your hard-earned money on them! You’d be shocked how far baking soda and white vinegar can get you, and most of the time these homemade cleaners are much cheaper than what you would find at the store. There are an assortment of recipes for cleaners online, and the best part is most of them are completely non-toxic, which means kids and pets won’t be taking a trip to the doctor if they get in your cleaning basket. As far as organizers, check out your local dollar store or get creative with old cereal and shipping boxes to create an organized home you’ll love.

Plan and Plant Your Garden

Gardening can be an extremely rewarding hobby. You’re not only getting your daily sunlight needs, but you’re nurturing, growing and harvesting your family’s food. The first thing to do if you decide to garden this year is to take a look at what you actually want to plant. Are you a tomato fiend? Want to have plenty of zucchini to last you the year? Think about what you and your family will actually eat before you start digging in the ground. If you have limited space, you can garden as well by using container gardening or aqua systems that allow you to garden indoors. Finally, if gardening outside, look at local planting guides to ensure your vegetables come in on time.

Stock Up for Winter Months

Stores carry an assortment of winter staples well into the spring, and many will get severely marked down in the Spring months as summer stock arrives. This is the perfect time for you to purchase jackets, gloves and boots for the following winter as well as snow gear like shovels and blowers. Finally, don’t forget holidays like Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Most decorations for these holidays will be severely marked down, and it’s the perfect time to get ready for next year by stocking up on décor and goodies now.

Make a Budget

With all your wonderful spring-cleaning finds, it’s important to start budgeting for the year by narrowing down what you actually need and looking for ways to fit it in. If you plan on gardening more this year, look at ways you can save on groceries over the coming months once your produce starts to come in. Also look to trim the fat on other areas of your life as well, such as entertainment costs or cell phone bills. You’ll find you’ll be spending less in no time.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Spring brings plenty of warmer weather, and it’s integral for you to enjoy the outdoors as things start to warm up. Many towns and cities will offer outdoor festivals, parades, fairs and other activities that allow you to spend the day outdoors for free or very cheaply. Not looking for social gatherings? No problem. Spring is the perfect time for family-based outdoor activities as well, such as hiking, to allow you to have fun in the sun without spending a dime.

Eat From Your Pantry

During the winter, you likely stocked up your pantry and slowly worked your way through your food stash. However, we’re willing to bet there are still plenty of canned and jarred goods hanging out in there. Spring is the perfect time to get through the last of your winter foods as you prepare space for what you’re going to can and buy for next winter over the coming months.

Open Some Windows

One of the best things about spring is the warming weather, and now is the perfect time to open up some windows and turn off your heating system. Not only will you be enjoying the weather and what it has to offer, but you’ll also get to air out your house which can remove odors that built up during the winter. Finally, further lower your electric bill by relying on natural lighting over turning on lightbulbs all the time.

Cook in Season

While many people think of spring as being for planting, it also welcomes a host of produce coming into season. Some food items you can expect to see coming into season include:

  • Apricots
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Collard Greens
  • Garlic
  • Lemons
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Pineapples
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Turnips

By shopping in season for your produce, you’ll be able to severely reduce your grocery bill each month. In-season produce will typically need to make a shorter journey to get to you; therefore, grocers won’t need to mark it up. Finally, you can save even more by visiting your local farmer’s market.

Spring is an excellent time to get your finances in order and start saving for the rest of the year. From cleaning out your home to find items you forgot you had to cooking with in-season produce, Spring offers a multitude of ways to lower your budget so you can save more money. Take the time to plan and save and start planning where you’ll spend!

Spring Holidays

Spring is just around the corner, and that means a full holiday season will soon be upon us. From making your own version of Mardi Gras on March 1st to commemorating Memorial Day on May 30th, the spring months hosts plenty of holidays for you to celebrate with your family and friends. Keep reading to learn ways to celebrate the spring holidays.

Mardi Gras – March 1st

Mardi Gras, meaning “Fat Tuesday” in French, is traditionally a time of excess as people fit in everything they want before Lent. Celebrated by religious and non-religious people alike, Mardi Gras has since become a big party for everyone. To celebrate at home, you’ll first want to make sure you have all the foods you’d eat in New Orleans, such as po’boys, hushpuppies and a king cake. The last one can be difficult to find, but it’s essentially a purple, yellow and green cake with a plastic baby inside. Whoever finds the baby is said to be bestowed with luck. If you drink alcohol, consider stocking up on some Louisiana brews or make some Sazernacs, the official cocktail of New Orleans. Next, get some masks and decorations that allow you and your friends to celebrate in style. Finally, play some jazz music in the background and celebrate the night away.

Saint Patrick’s Day – March 17th

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and cities around the world celebrate in style. However, if your town doesn’t have an annual St. Patty’s Day celebration, you can still have a special event at home. Corned beef and cabbage is an easy meal to make on top of being the traditional dish served, especially with a few slices of soda bread on the side. Beer drinkers will love sampling different variations of green beer as well. More of a purist? Guinness is likely the right choice for you. Don’t like beer? Try an Irish Coffee with brown sugar for an extra dose of sweetness. Whether you put on green from head to toe or wear a little Shamrock somewhere on your outfit, Saint Patty’s Day is an easy holiday to get in the festive spirit.

Easter Sunday – April 17th

Easter is about the resurrection of Christ for Christians; however, many people from all backgrounds have their own Easter-themed celebrations—including a visit from the Easter Bunny. The night before is perfect for dying eggs with the kids before hosting an egg hunt in your yard or around the house. If you want to go the extra mile for kids, consider renting or purchasing an Easter Bunny costume for a memorable celebration that won’t be forgotten. Finally, consider whipping up some Easter staples, including cakes, deviled eggs, a roast turkey or ham and plenty of sides for a feast your friends and family will love.

Earth Day – April 22nd

Earth Day is all about working together to save our planet, and this is the perfect holiday to get your kids involved in making the world a better place. There is a multitude of different things you can do to help the planet, including being car-free for the day, starting a recycling program at home or even making a birdhouse for feathered friends. Regardless of how you choose to spend your Earth Day, it’s important to remember to take the time to make the world a better place for everyone.

Arbor Day – April 29th

Closely related to Earth Day (and only a week apart), Arbor Day revolves around trees. Of course, the most popular and traditional way to celebrate is by planting a tree. However, not everyone has the space to plant, especially if they live in an apartment. For those looking to celebrate, consider sponsoring a tree being planted, reading more about trees with the kids or volunteering somewhere in the community to complete tasks like cleaning up a park or making a group donation to a charity.

Cinco de Mayo – May 5th

Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory in the Battle of Puebla against the French, and it’s one of the most fun and festive holidays on our list. You can easily host your own holiday spectacular by decorating your home in bright, festive colors or by ordering decorations made just for the holiday. Of course, the most popular element of any Cinco de Mayo celebration is the food, and now is the perfect time to whip up some enchiladas and perfect your tamale-making skills. Finally, take the time to learn more about the history of our neighbors to the south and why the holiday means so much to the people of Mexico.

Mother’s Day – May 8th

Mother’s Day is the one say of the year to celebrate your mother (or mother figure), and you can come up with a myriad of ways to celebrate what makes your mom so great. If you still live with her, consider making her breakfast in bed and giving her a break from household chores. If you live nearby, throw a surprise party with her friends after you’ve spent the day together. Finally, if mom lives far away, take the time to give her a phone call and have flowers or chocolates delivered for a holiday neither one of you will forget.

Memorial Day – May 30th

Memorial Day tends to get used as the marker for summer beginning; however, it’s also time to remember the soldier who died for our country. Before the picnics and barbeques, take the time to attend a Memorial Day ceremony or parade and consider decorating the graves of fallen soldiers at your local cemetery.

The spring months offer plenty of holiday cheer for those looking to spend their time with family and friends. From donning your best purple, yellow and green mask for Mardi Gras to remembering our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, you can make this spring a holiday season to remember. Whether you decide to throw a few parties or take time to celebrate each holiday with your family, remember that each day offers plenty of activities that everyone will love.

Shopping for Valentines Day on a Budget

Valentine’s Day is dedicated to romance, and one of the main ways people celebrate is by purchasing gifts for one another. However, if budgets are tight this year, it can feel difficult to find a gift that’s perfect for both your partner and your budget. Luckily, we’re here to help. Read on to learn how to shop for Valentine’s Day this year while staying within your budget.

Budget Before the Holiday

Look for ways to cut down on expenses by writing down your income and listing your expenses. Certain things like rent and utilities obviously need to be paid, but what can you cut down on? For example, if you get a coffee every day, consider making your caffeine fix at home for the month or get a basic weekly car wash rather than the deluxe. Small changes like this can save you a couple hundred dollars a month, which is perfect for your Valentine’s Day shopping budget.

Set Your Budget and Stick to It

You’ve carefully crafted your budget and are ready to go shopping. As you look around, you find the one item you know will blow your loved one’s socks off. The only problem? It’s a several hundred dollars over your price range. It can be tempting to go over your budget this one time to get the present; however, depending on your finances, you might be in a financial limbo for several weeks or months if you do. When you create your budget, attempt to stick to it as closely as possible rather than stretching yourself thin. You’ll find another perfect gift in your price range in no time.

Shop for Great Deals

Just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you only need to shop at expensive stores. Plenty of cheaper brands stock great gifts your loved one will cherish. For example, your local dollar store likely has an assortment of items just waiting to get placed in the perfect gift basket. Take the time to look at what cheaper stores have to offer and save some serious money while you’re shopping for the right gift for your loved one.

Turn to Staples

With the holiday upon us, many stores will happily put their wares on sale to become your loved one’s present. Jewelers, florists and candy makers consider February a big month for sales, and they’re all competing to get you through their doors. Take the time to see which brands are offering deep discounts for the holiday. You might find that perfect gift for much less than it would normally be.

Consider Personalization

Does your loved one drink coffee on a regular basis? Do they love to get the latest bestseller from their favorite bookstore? More and more companies are now offering personalization on their products, allowing you to create something that’s truly unique for the person you care about. From mugs to bookbags to wine bottles, your loved one can receive something that has themselves written all over it.

Get Creative

Many times, people are looking for a gift that’s from the heart rather than something you spent thousands of dollars on. This is where crafting comes in handy. Scroll through Pinterest or Instagram to get great ideas on something you can make for your loved one using tools and supplies you already have around the house. Think about what your recipient likes and will use as well. There’s little sense in giving someone something they’ll rarely use. Finally, remember that you don’t need to make something that’s big or elaborate either. Small things like a photo album or cookies are much appreciated as well.

Make a Date Night

Many people focus on gifts for Valentine’s Day, but a great date night can mean more to people than anything you purchase. Is your partner a devoted concertgoer? Do they spend hours on end looking at vintage cars? Think about things your partner likes doing and plan your Valentine’s Day date night around their favorite activity. Want to up the awe factor? Consider taking them to the first place you met for dinner or take them shopping to that antique store you know they love. They’ll get a fun night they’ll never forget while you’ll have created the perfect experience to show them how much you love them.

Buy Some Favorites

What’s your significant other’s favorite candy? Their t-shirt brand? Their wine brand? Oftentimes, it can be tempting to give someone something that’s new, exciting and expensive for Valentine’s Day, but favorites are much more likely to win over your lover. Take some time to think about what you know they love and go shopping for a few of these favorites to make a Valentine’s Day present that means more to your loved one than anything else you could purchase. By selecting things you know mean a lot to them, you’re showing that you notice the small details that keep your loved one going.

Look for Valentine’s Day-Themed Gifts

Just like other holidays, Valentine’s Day offers plenty of holiday-themed gifts. As the day creeps nearer and nearer, store owners start to worry about their themed stock selling and will commonly mark it down. While you probably won’t find that exact thing you were eying a couple weeks ago, you can find some low clearance prices that will fit into nearly anyone’s budget. Of course, the cheapest prices are after Valentine’s Day, so consider doing some after-holiday shopping as well.

Shopping for Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to break the bank. From creating a budget and shopping for great deals to creating a new, cherished possession and taking them to their favorite restaurant on date night, Valentine’s Day can become your loved one’s favorite holiday without you needing to spend a lot. Take the time to think about what your significant other loves, and shop for or make a gift you know they’ll love. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and remember that it’s the thought that counts rather than how much you spend.