Budgeting & Savings

Top 10 Money-Saving Tips for Summer

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Summer is fast approaching and it can be one of the most expensive seasons because everyone wants to be outside, and they want to do something fun. Having a fun Summer doesn’t mean you have to break your budget. Luckily, when the weather gets warm, the deals get hot.

Follow these 10 tips on the best ways to save this summer:

  1. Air Conditioner – Air-conditioning your entire house is a great way to beat the heat, but with that comes the expense of installing an A/C unit, if you don’t already have one and the high energy bills that are sure to follow. Set your thermostat as high as comfortable for when you’re home and even higher for when you are not there. There’s no reason to air condition your house if no one is there. Keep air vents clear of furniture and other objects that may be blocking them. Have your air conditioner tuned up and cleaned on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to replace filters monthly or bi-monthly for more efficient operation.
  1. Don’t Water That Grass – Sprinkler systems are a lot of money and they require more money to keep them maintained and working properly. But won’t my grass die if I don’t water it? No, unless you live in a serious drought-like area. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t be wasting that precious water on your lawn anyway. It’s best to cut your grass when you think rain is coming soon. If it’s been dry for a while, don’t cut your grass too much. You can save money by not watering your grass and cut back on the every day or every other day grass cutting.
  1. Carpool – You can save a lot of money by carpooling to and from work every day. Use this Commute Cost Calculator to determine how much money you will save by carpooling or riding public transportation instead of driving to work all of the time. Carpooling not only saves you money, but it also reduces congestion and possibly travel time. It gives you the chance to develop stronger friendships with co-workers or other commuters. There are many benefits to carpooling.
  1. Make It A Staycation – A Staycation can be just as much fun as a regular vacation that you would travel to. However, it’s a lot less expensive and will leave more money in your overall budget. The average vacation expense per person is $1,145 or $4,580 for a family of four. Plan a few fun activities every day, maybe one major thing (going to the zoo) and one low-key thing (going out for ice cream). That way, you won’t ever get bored, but you also won’t run yourself ragged and get all stressed out. It’s a good idea to give your staycation a definite start and end date as well, so you feel like it’s an official vacation. Remember to take photos of the new memories you will make!
  1. Grow Your Own Food – Growing your own food is not only fun, but it can also save you a lot of money. Growing food could mean increased security, health, wealth, and enjoyment. The first thing to do is to start planning. Find out what kind of foods you can easily grow in your location. Some obvious things to think about are climate, available space, rainfall percentages, and the soil. Growing food is more than just planting seeds and watching them get bigger. You must know what your growing season is for each plant. Become familiar with the different types of plants and what they need to survive. Some benefits to growing your own food include having food that you can enjoy without the worry of herbicides, pesticides, and other contaminants. Also saving money at the grocery store.
  1. Home Energy Audit – A professional home energy audit could cost you anywhere from $200 to $500 or even more. The good news is that you can perform your own audit. When walking through your home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and the problems that you’ve found. This list will help you prioritize your solutions and what changes you plan on making. Look for any air leaks around windows, doors, and outlets, and then seal them with caulk, weather-stripping or expanding foam. Check your insulation and add more if necessary. Check your heating and cooling equipment regularly. Choose energy efficient light bulbs. Unplug all appliances and electronics if you aren’t using them. The website http://energy.gov/energysaver/energy-saver may provide some helpful information on increasing energy efficiency in your home.
  1. Turn Down the Hot Water Heater – Chances are your hot water heater is set too high. Some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, but most households usually only require them to be 120ºF max. Turning down the temperature by at least 10 ºF on your hot water heater can save 3-5% on energy costs, so a drop from 140 ºF to 120 ºF will save you around 6-10%. Annual energy costs for a hot water heater vary from about $226 to $567. If your thermostat is set at 140 ºF your hot water heater can waste anywhere from $40 to $75 annually in heat losses.
  1. Find Free Entertainment – During the warm Summer months, there will be many events, concerts, and festivals that are free to the public. You just have to know where and when to look. Check out your local library or your town’s Community Calendar for some free events. Zoos and museums often have “free admission days” so you don’t have to be a member to enjoy these places. Check out websites like www.meetup.com to find some awesome meetings or groups that interest you like board game meetups or puppy play date meetups or outdoor adventure clubs. Organize a walking tour or hike with friends and explore your city like a tourist.
  1. Hold a Garage Sale or Yard Sale – A yard sale is a very rewarding way to spend a weekend. Not only does it provide you with an excuse for getting rid of that unwanted junk, it will also bring in some extra money. It’s something the whole family can participate in and enjoy. Plus, it will give you a whole weekend’s worth of entertainment and fun for free.
  1. Fuel Up for Less – Gas prices usually go up in the Summer because of the vacations and all of the traveling people do. It’s so frustrating to stop for gasoline, drive two miles, and discover another gas station with lower prices. You can use websites like GasBuddy.com or iPhone Apps like Cheap Gas! to get the scoop on prices before you fill up. Once you find a price you like, the app maps out a route on how to get there. This can save you time and money.

Where and When to Find the Best Vacation Deals:

These days vacations can end up costing you a small fortune! Luckily, it is still possible to find the best vacation deals if you know where and how to look for them. Here are some tips for finding an affordable vacation deal:

Book your trip last minute –

If you know where you want to go and when booking a trip last minute can save you loads of money. Typically prices for vacation packages will drop significantly if you wait until the last minute. You can find these last minute trips by searching online and booking right away to save lots of money. Click here for a great website on last minute trips and other helpful vacation bookings! Hotels.com often has particularly good last-minute deals, so it’s worth giving them a look if you plan to stay in a hotel.

Talk to a travel agent –

Booking through a travel agent can end up making the booking process much easier and even cheaper. Travel agents know how to get great deals and will arrange your flight, hotel, transportation and even activities. Just tell them your total budget and what you’re looking for, and they’ll do the rest. You can relax knowing that your whole vacation has been properly handled by a professional. Some travel agencies even offer a money-back guarantee if something goes wrong.

Use multiple online sites –

The easiest way to find cheap vacation deals is by simply searching online travel sites. Websites like Kayak and Hotwire allow you to search through hundreds of travel and airline sites that will pick out the cheapest vacations and flights for you. You can compare prices and see what airline or service works best for you. Comparison shopping is one of the best ways to save money. AirfareWatchdog works best for travelers ready to take off at the drop of a hat. The website has actual people lurking on airline sites in anticipation of fare sales and then they get posted.

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Search through classified ads –

Although you probably haven’t thought about it, some of the best deals can still be found through ads posted on websites or even in newspapers. Ads usually provide some of the cheapest deals because they are almost desperate for customers. All-inclusive deals are usually advertised a lot. Make sure to do some research to verify that it’s actually a good deal. Also, read reviews from other people who have done the same all-inclusive package if you go that route.

Know when to go –

It can be hard to know when to get the best deals, so many websites will let you pick a vacation destination and let you know if you can get the deal at a later date for less money. You can then make your decision on whether you want to wait or book it now. If you have a specific location in mind, do some research to find out the high tourist season and avoid those months at all cost. Going to a location during the “off season” or when many people don’t travel there could save you a ton of money.

Try services such as Airbnb –

Airbnb is a fairly new website and way of traveling or staying in the place of your choosing. It is a trusted public marketplace for people to list, discover, and book distinctive accommodations all around the world. You can book online or even from your mobile phone.

Whether you are searching for an apartment for the night, a castle for a week, or a private villa for over a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Airbnb offers world-class customer service and a growing community of users. Some places are even as low as $27 per night with all the amenities you could want.

Conclusion –

Clearly, saving money this Summer doesn’t have to be painful or tedious. Making a few small adjustments and tackling some DIY projects to improve energy efficiency are relatively easy to do. The end result is that you’ll have some extra padding to add to your savings account when the Fall rolls around.

No matter where you want to travel or when you want to go, you should always spend time looking around for deals and using different sources to make sure you are getting the most out of your travel package. Get to know travel agents and travel websites, and hopefully, you’ll be able to find some of the greatest deals and have an unforgettable vacation! We hope you have a happy and frugal money-saving Summer!

Author: Lauralynn Mangis
Lauralynn is the Online Marketing Specialist for AdvantageCCS. She is married and has two young daughters. She enjoys writing, reading, hiking, cooking, video games, sewing, and gardening. Lauralynn has a degree in Multimedia Technologies from Pittsburgh Technical College.