5 tips to stay on top of summer spending
2 MIN READ
Summer’s here at last. As the long, warm days arrive (fingers crossed), it’s only natural to relax and enjoy the sunny side of life.
But we can sometimes become a little too free with our spending when the sun’s shining.
Here are 5 quick tips to help you stay on top of your finances this summer.
1 Check your balance (2 minutes)
Summer trips, summer clothes, summer camps for the kids, summer everything – it all adds up.
The quickest way to make sure your spending stays under control is by checking your balance frequently.
It only takes 2 minutes with online banking to view your balance and your most recent transactions.
How often you check – once a day, once every other day, once a week – is up to you and how much control you need.
You might set an alert on your phone or calendar to remind you when to check your most recent transactions.
Getting a regular look at your finances will alert you to their true state so you can stop them going off track.
2 Schedule some spending forensics (10 minutes)
Next, set aside some budget time, once a week, for a more forensic check on how much you’re spending and what you’re spending your money on.
One of life’s great mysteries is where all the money goes. Start by dedicating just 10 minutes a week to find out.
Your regular spending on life’s essentials – rent, mortgage, insurance, healthcare, car/public transport, food, for example – shouldn’t change much month to month (although your heating bill might go down in summer, you’d hope).
So it’s the non-essentials, life’s little luxuries, that you have more control over.
In the summer, in addition to the usual purchases, you might also be tempted to increase spending on weekends away, a new summer wardrobe, plants and garden furniture etc.
Before you start your summer spending, check how much you have left over each week or month for the non-essentials by taking away the cost of your essentials from your income after tax.
This is the amount you have to work with in order to avoid overspending.
3 Create a budget for your summer (15 minutes)
There are plenty of songs dedicated to summer sunshine, surfing and beaches but, perhaps unsurprisingly, none to summer budgeting.
Yes it’s not everyone’s favourite pastime especially when the sun’s out but you might want to create a budget for your summer.
Write down all the things you’d ideally like to try or buy this summer – short breaks, longer holidays, concerts, clothes, entertaining, meals out etc – and write down a cost beside each of them.
Add everything up. It may be more than you can afford so what are your top priorities and what will you decide not to spend on?
If you already have money saved for the summer, you’ll quickly be able to see what you can and cannot afford from your savings and make some choices.
Stick the list of what you’ve decided to spend on somewhere visible to remind you.
If you don’t have any savings take a look on your bank statements to work out your typical monthly outgoings for life’s essentials (see step 2, above) then see what you have left over to spend on your summer.
4 Start saving for next summer (1 minute and upwards)
If you don’t have any savings put by for this summer now might be the time to start saving for next summer.
You can start as simply as emptying your pockets of loose change and small notes and putting it into a jar. That only takes a minute.
A good idea is to save automatically by setting up a standing order to transfer money into a regular savings or deposit account the day after you get paid. That way you won’t forget to save.
The trick is not to get downhearted if you cannot save large sums every week or month, today, it’s more important to get started even if you start small.
After all, you can always increase your savings later and you’ve a whole year to build your savings up.
One way to start saving regularly is to set yourself a 30-day challenge.
Some people decide to set aside €1 a day for 30 days into a regular savings or deposit account while others can afford to save €5 or €10 – the important thing is to get saving.
5 Make plans for life beyond summer (30 minutes)
Planning to save money for next summer might well get you thinking about all your future plans.
Have you plans to save a deposit for a house, to save for retirement or simply to cover the cost of Christmas in a few months’ time?
Take some time to write down your larger financial needs over the next 3, 5 or 10 years and estimate what each of them might cost.
You might want to schedule several 30-minute sessions to work out what your highest priorities are and how you might be able to afford them.
Keep your plan somewhere safe so you can refer to it long after this summer is just a memory.
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