Summer finances can be a killer on your budget. It’s the most expensive time of year for many Aussies and it can create a hefty load.
Think about all the accumulated debts you’ve run up all year, then add the holiday expenses and Christmas blowouts and your finances have really taken a hit. Summer is also the biggest expense period for most Australians and in February that financial pain comes home to roost as the credit card bill arrives.
What you need is a financial summer health-kick. Here are some key tips to get and keep your summer finances in great shape.
Avoid the summer blowout
Christmas, school holidays, annual holiday… summer can be pretty hefty on the financial front.
To avoid overspending this summer, make sure you track your spending. Set a budget for each of your key blowout areas and allocate funds especially for them. Once those funds are spent, the fun should be over.
Let’s break that down into our three key areas of summer finances.
Keep Christmas spending down
Just like you reduce carbs during a diet, cutting down on your spending during Christmas is critical. It’s a pain, but everything needs to be counted.
Whether you have a big or small family, it can be tempting to go overboard with gifts. But here’s something you already know: your family and friends don’t love you because you go overboard with extravagant gifts. They just want to spend time with you and have a laugh.
The key here is to make a budget and stick to it. Lots of families and friends have a Secret Santa… where you go into a draw and buy a gift for just one person. This means everyone gives and receives something, but it keeps costs down.
If you’re creative, a hand-made gift can be all the more special (whether it’s baked, knitted or crafted) so consider what you can make before you start trawling the aisles of department stores. Or give the gift of time and offer to babysit or be a gardener or chauffeur for a few hours.
And don’t spend on wrapping paper. Brown craft paper with a nice ribbon does the trick … it usually gets thrown out anyway. Even better if you can recycle some paper you’ve already used.
More on this: Scale back Christmas without feeling like a Grinch
Carefully plan your holiday
If you do decide to hit the road or head overseas, holidays can be one of your summer finances biggest money zappers. Booking and planning it early should get you a decent price… again, look out for sales year-round.
Small things like paying for everything in the local currency, checking mobile phone international roaming rates and claiming GST refunds can save a lot of money. Cooking a few meals yourself will also help out, so try to book accommodation with basic kitchen facilities.
More tips here: How to have a truly relaxing budget holiday
Save a packet at lunchtime by buying stuff for sandwiches from supermarkets, rather than having a meal at a restaurant or takeaway. Just carry a small set of cutlery with you to make sandwich fixing easier.
Keep everyone entertained for less
Summer fun doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it’s the best time of year for cheap entertainment. Steering clear of indoor shopping centres, especially those tempting online shops, will refresh your bank balance.
It can be difficult to avoid the madness of holiday sales, but make an effort to get outside, head to the beach or have a picnic in the park… your credit card will thank you for it.
Lots of parks set up free or cheap outdoor cinemas over summer, which are a great way to entertain both young and old. Pack some snacks and a bottle of wine, and you’re good to go.
For those who want to get active (and burn those pesky Christmas kilos in the process), there are some great coastal walks around (local councils or National Parks and Wildlife have the maps) and they don’t cost a thing.
Keep these tips in mind over the summer months and you’ll avoid having to pay for your summer blowout for the entire year.