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Always Save Money
A blog by personal finance journalist Rubina Ahmed-Haq


The warmer weather is finally here and families across the country are starting to make their summer plans. Personal finance experts love to talk about how expensive the Holidays are in December, but we often don’t discuss how pricey summer events can be. Unlike Christmas, a one-day event, summer holidays are two months long. With endless vacations, BBQ with friends and last minute dinner plans, the costs can add up. A 2015 BMO Bank of Montreal survey of summer spending found Canadians plan to spend an average of $5,605 during the hot summer months. Here are my tips to keep your budget on track all summer long.

Plan, Plan, Plan
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail! You should apply this to your summer spending plans as well. Map out now all social events you already have planned. Summer wedding, family vacation, dinner dates. Big and small write all the events down than attach a guesstimate of how much you believe each event will cost. The BMO survey shows Canadians spend more than $2700 on social outings, entertaining friends and family, general summer activities and entertainment. By mapping out your social calendar you can easily see where you might be overspending.  You can tweak your spending now to keeps costs down, and maybe decline any invites early that might be out of your budget.

Quality over quantity
Focus on events that are most important to you. Summer spending can often get out of control when you start accepting every single invitation. What might end up happening is you find yourself spending money (and time) on people and things you don’t even enjoy. Now that is a total waste of money. Avoid all that by picking events that really mean something to you and your family and friends.

Keep it Canadian
Vacations are expensive, especially those taken outside the country. In many cases, you have to fly to your destination. The BMO summer spending survey finds Canadians expect to spend move $2,000 on longer vacations and weekend trips this summer. You can bring this cost down significantly by simply taking trips that are closer to home. Wherever you live in Canada there are often amazing vacations spots only a few hours’ drive. Start by drawing a radius around your home that shows all that places that are within 500 km of you (as an example.)  You can easily figure this out by using a site like Road trips are much more cost effective than flying.  

Do a big bulk shop now
We know summer is all about the last minute get together. Be ready for all your spontaneous parties on the patio and dinner plans, by doing a big bulk shop now. Stock up on essentials like burgers and hot dogs, get some frozen vegetables to make a quick stir-fry. Have a good variety of mixers ready to go for the adult drinks. This means if you make plans in the morning to have a party that afternoon, your shopping is already 75 per cent done. Planning is key to keeping your budget in check.

Get energy efficient
Summer is hot, and it can get uncomfortable without AC. You can cut your energy bill by 15 per cent by using a programmable thermostat, which keeps the home cooler at night for sleeping, but warmer when everyone is out of the house. Keep air vents closed in the basement and make sure your window shades are turned down so your AC is not competing with the heat from the sun. Also check that the door and windows seal are in good shape so cold air isn’t escaping.

Extra childcare
Parent’s often find themselves scrambling to get childcare for the summer months. Camps and short-term childcare options can be expensive.  The best idea is to take your own holiday during the summer months to bridge that gap. For the weeks when you need childcare find city-run camps for the best value. 

Free first
Focus on the free events offered in your area. Visit your city website to see what’s happening near you, there are events near playgrounds and community centres that cost nothing. Join your local parents Facebook group to post questions and keep in the know of what’s happening around you.

Regardless of what your plans are in this summer, it’s important to make a rough budget of what you can afford to spend. This will help keep your bank balance in check. Summer is supposed to fun and spontaneous, but you don’t want it to leave you in debt by the end of the season. With some careful planning, you can enjoy all summer long without putting yourself in financial distress. 


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