June 14, 2024
Smart Money Tips for a Thrifty Lifestyle

As summer rolls around this year, you might be feeling the pressure to spend. From travel and amusement park trips to home improvements and everyday expenses, summer is notorious for putting a strain on American wallets. With constant invitations to spend wherever they turn, many are turning to tried-and-true ways to save money amid the spending temptations. 

According to a recent survey conducted by GOBankingRates, Americans are tapping into their thrifty side through a variety of money-saving strategies this summer.

How Americans Are Planning To Save Extra Money This Summer
Stick to a budget 58%
Shop sales 42%
Plan ahead on when to take a vacation or travel 31%
Eliminate any unnecessary expenses (canceling memberships or subscriptions, etc.) 31%
Work a side hustle 24%
Use credit cards for rewards/points 22%
Redeem existing credit card points or perks 17%
Cook outside to reduce electric bills 17%
Sell things at a yard sale or as a reseller online 16%

While your finances might be tight this summer, a simple mindset shift and a few self-imposed spending rules can help you enjoy the season without compromising your financial well-being. Here’s a closer look at how you can save money using the popular methods outlined above.

Stick To a Budget

Setting up a budget is one of the best gifts you can give your financial well-being. By creating a spending plan, you can enjoy a fun-filled summer without overspending or experiencing great financial stress.

“I like to call budgeting a spending plan, to reframe the process and feel in control of your money rather than restricted,” said Mark Henry, CEP and CEO at Alloy Wealth Management. “Aim for a zero-sum spending plan, meaning every dollar you earn is assigned a job. Take care of necessities in your spending plan first, like bills, rent, loan payments and savings, then split up the remaining amount among discretionary costs. What you spend your discretionary income on is up to you, but it might look different in the summer months when we are focused more on entertainment.”

If budgeting still sounds daunting, try a free budgeting app. Within these apps, you can create a budgeting plan, easily set different savings goals and track your progress.

“A budget can help you save as much money as you want it to. If you want to save more, you’ll see what areas you can cut back on by budgeting month after month, and redirect that money towards your saving efforts.”

Plan Ahead for Vacation or Travel 

Budget-friendly travel is not procrastinator-friendly. If you’re prone to putting off booking summer vacation plans, consider setting reminders and marking dates on your calendar to avoid last-minute price hikes.

“If you haven’t planned a trip by June but still want to go away this summer, you could end up paying hundreds of dollars more in flights and hotels,” Henry said. “If you still plan to travel this summer, keep an eye out for any last-minute deals.”

Be sure to also plan ahead for the expenses you will face during the trip. 

“Look up the average cost of meals, transportation and activities where you’re going, and set a limit for how much you want to spend,” Henry said. “Impulse buys and expensive meals can run your vacation bill up hundreds of dollars, but having a plan can save you that money. If you’re traveling with children, give your children a set amount of money at the beginning of vacation to spend on things like souvenirs or ice cream, and when that money runs out it’s gone.”

Shop Sales

Looking to be a savvier spender? While finding sales is great, the key to snagging bargains and significantly reducing expenses lies in thoughtful planning rather than impulse spending.

“Don’t waste money buying things you don’t need just because they’re on sale,” Henry said. “If you have items you need or are planning on a big purchase, like a TV or a couch, wait for big summer sales and take advantage of them. You can save anywhere from $10 on small items to hundreds on big buys if you time it right, but avoid shopping a sale just for shopping’s sake.”

Use Credit Cards for Rewards/Points

Credit card use can be slippery for those looking to save money. If you are prone to falling behind on payments or forgetting to redeem rewards, credit cards might risk your credit score and hold you back from savings. However, when used responsibly, they can maximize your savings.

“If you have an airline or travel rewards card, try using it more in the months before you book travel and go on vacation,” Henry said. “Even if your credit card points only cover half of your family’s flights or one night in a hotel on vacation, you’ll still save hundreds of dollars. If you don’t have a travel-specific card but still get cash back, try to use that card leading up to vacation and cash in the points to pay for food or activities on your trip.”

Redeem Existing Credit Card Points or Perks

There’s nothing sweeter than free money, especially when you’re trying to set aside some extra funds. After thoughtfully building points and perks on your credit card through your spending, it’s crucial to not waste cash back, gift cards or other benefits. 

“If you have points or rewards sitting in your credit card account, now is a good time to cash them in,” Henry said. “Most people spend a lot in the summer between fun activities, travel and kids being off from school. Saving up your rewards is great for periods you don’t have as much going on, but when you’re spending more, put those rewards to use to help pay credit card bills or save on travel.”

Eliminate Any Unnecessary Expenses 

The enemy of saving is spending, and nothing eats away at your savings more than unused and unnecessary expenses.

“Subscriptions and memberships can quietly eat away at your finances, especially if you have them on autopay,” Henry said. “Take stock of all your recurring charges, and get rid of any that you don’t use or forgot you even signed up for first. You can typically save $10-$20 a month per subscription or membership, depending on the cost, so cutting out a few recurring charges could mean saving several hundred dollars a year.”

Work a Side Hustle

The easiest way to boost your savings is by increasing your income. Dusting off your love for ceramics or baking can help you monetize your passion, offering you extra money to spend or save this summer without feeling too much like work.

“However, be careful of your side hustle taking up all of your free time and distracting from your primary job,” Henry said. “Unless you start making more in a side hustle than your actual career, don’t jeopardize your 9-5 to keep the side hustle going.”

If your hobbies don’t feel like a lucrative side hustle, taking up freelance work or a side gig related to your full-time job is also a great way to boost your income.

Cook Outside To Reduce Electric Bills

While it might sound a little ridiculous, dusting off the grill and putting it to work during the summer months can help reduce the use of indoor appliances, making your electricity bill a little less painful.

“Grilling means you’ll use your oven less, plus you’ll spend less time inside blasting the air conditioner,” Henry said. “Cooking and eating outside is also a great alternative for gathering friends or family without spending money on a restaurant. You won’t save hundreds, but it will be rewarding to see your electricity bills decline and you’ll avoid restaurant prices.”

However, if you don’t already have a grill, this isn’t an excuse to go out and buy one. This summer savings hack is rather modest, likely only saving you $50 to $200, and certainly not enough to cover the cost of a new fancy grill.

Sell Things at a Yard Sale or as a Reseller Online

In this season of spring cleaning and decluttering, it’s easier than ever before to turn your unused items into cash by selling them online or hosting a yard sale. 

“You can earn some money for things you no longer want or need, in less time than a side hustle would take, and simultaneously declutter your home,” Henry said. “Depending on what and how much you sell, you can make anywhere from a few extra dollars to hundreds. Don’t be afraid to ask for more than you think you can get when listing online; You can always lower the price, but you’ll avoid lowball offers that are way less than you want to accept.”

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