Summer is here and you probably waited all year to take advantage of the warm weather, plentiful sunshine and ample opportunities for fun. Your lifestyle likely changes with the seasons, but how does summer impact your spending habits?
Thoughtful spending is an essential element of building a good credit history. The last thing you want to do this summer is fall into spending pitfalls that will lead to unpleasant surprises the next time you check your free credit score online.
These are six common summer spending missteps and how you can avoid them:
1. High Energy Bills
As temperatures climb, so will your use of air conditioning – and your electric bill. If you keep your A/C set to meat-locker levels, you’re sure to see a surge in power costs. If you don’t already have one, install a programmable thermostat and program it to turn off the A/C when you’re out of the house and back on about 20 minutes before you return home for the day. When you are home, try setting the thermostat at 78 and supplementing air circulation with energy-efficient ceiling fans.
2. Costly Summer Camp
Summer camp is a rite of passage for kids, but you don’t have to spend a mint to ensure your children are cared for and entertained throughout the summer. Rather than sending them off to that pricey sleep-away camp with horseback riding and professional tennis lessons, look into options closer to home. Your local Y, church groups, karate classes and even daycare centers often offer more cost-effective choices.
3. Motoring Madness
Gas prices are high and likely to go higher this summer. Take steps to reduce your fuel consumption, such as ensuring your car is in good working order with properly inflated tires. Consolidate trips; for example, plan to combine a run to the grocery store with picking the kids up from dance practice so that you’re not making two separate trips. Also, think about carpooling to work or on the weekends with friends or family.
4. Travel Traps
Summer travel is one thing that can seriously impact your credit history, especially if you finance your vacation with credit. To save money on summer travel, consider a “staycation” around where you live. Or, fund your travel with a special savings account set aside with just that in mind, and only use credit cards to pay for purchases on the road.
5. Lawn Care Costs
It’s easy to lavish your lawn with care – and cash – when summer arrives and you want to be outdoors so much. But do you really need to pay for professional lawn maintenance? In the long run, it may be cheaper and more satisfying to do mowing, weed control and light landscaping yourself. Plus, the exercise and fresh air will be good for you!
6. Savings Hiatus
Summer is probably the season when you’re least likely to think about checking your free credit score. The laissez faire attitude of summer may even make you consider taking a hiatus from saving money, thinking of all the things you can do if you spend the cash you normally put in your savings account. But don’t take a break from building your savings – inertia may make it too hard to start again once the seasons change.