WORRIED YOU’LL BE PAYING FOR SUMMER FUN FOR MONTHS TO COME?
Summit’s Three-Step Plan lets you own your summer—without maxing out your credit cards
You survived another Wisconsin winter and it’s time to relax, enjoy and soak up some sun (while covered in broad-spectrum SPF 30 and good sunglasses, of course!). But before you pack up the beach bag and fill that cooler, take some time to balance fun and finances. That way you can enjoy your summer now and not have credit card bills to face when the snow begins to fly.
Step 1: Grab a calendar and look at your plans
Most of us do a good job planning for big-ticket items like family vacations. But what about the little expenses? Things like the Tuesday T-ball games that mean weekly takeout, outdoor theater, beers and brats after the softball game, the annual water park day in the Dells and the out-of-town swim meets that require a hotel? Those small- and medium-sized expenses can add up fast.
Before they do, sit down, take a good look at your family calendar and write down all the extra expenses you can think of. Don’t forget things like tolls, bottled water (it adds up when it's hot!), gas and souvenirs.
Step 2: Review your budget
Think about how you could enjoy the activities from Step 1 without breaking the bank. Can you pack a picnic dinner for the ball game? Does the water park let you bring in your own snacks? Will online coupons or AAA discounts bring down those hotel costs? And get your family in on the action. Before your next outing, give your kids a budget for snacks and tchotchkes. You’ll be amazed at how frugal they become when they have to figure out where to spend their money instead of expecting an open wallet! Or show them how budgeting on extras today might mean being able to do a different fun thing tomorrow. And don’t forget the power of FREE! Most communities have a wealth of free or very low-cost activities.
Step 3: Commit to keeping your credit card under control
Now that you know what your summer fun will cost, come up with a plan to pay for it. One way is to cut back on variable expenses. How about some vegetarian dinners or getting books from the library instead of hitting Amazon.com? Swap babysitting with a friend instead of getting a sitter. Turn on your air conditioning less and close your curtains more (choices that will cut your electricity bill). Or consider setting up an automatic transfer to pull regular expenses like summer camp or pool fees so that money comes out of your account before you can spend it on something else.
We know Wisconsin summers are short and it’s tempting to think “just this once” and run up the credit card. And while you hate to be the killjoy who’s always saying “no,” you’ll also hate to spend the next six months paying the minimum balance. So, grab a cool drink (from your fridge—almost free!), pull out that lawn chair and take a deep breath. Summer is here and with careful planning you can enjoy it today, with no regrets tomorrow.
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