A water fight in the middle of summer.

Stay On Budget This Summer

It can be a real challenge to stay on budget during the summer months, especially if you have kids. Outside of the holiday season, it is probably one of the most expensive times of the year. If you want to avoid wrecking your finances, take a look at some ways that you can stay within your budget this summer and still enjoy yourself.

Keep Utility Costs In Check

The summer heat can do a real number on your utility bill, especially if you live in an older home. Don’t just accept the rising costs. Instead, take some measures to lower your energy uses. Here are some ways to do just that.

Look For Leaks

Leaking door and window seals can make your home bleed cool air. Keep the cold air that you are paying for inside your home by replacing leaky seals. Most door and window seals cost just a few dollars a piece, so you will realize savings rather quickly.

If you have windows that you never use, consider a window sealing kit. These kits attach to the interior trim and allow you to cover the entire window opening with a solid sheet of plastic. They will put an end to drafts completely and cost less than a dollar per window.

Lower Your Water Heater Temperature

You are paying to keep 50 gallons of water hot, all the time, even when you do not need it. The average hot water heater costs over 400 dollars a year to operate. Save money by lowering the thermostat to the EPA recommended setting of 120 degrees. The majority of water heaters are set too high at 140 degrees which wastes energy and can be dangerous.

Use Fans

Take advantage of both ceiling and portable fans to keep cool this summer. If you keep the air in your home moving, it will feel cooler due to the wind chill effect. This will allow you to turn your thermostat up a few degrees and still feel just as comfortable.

Go Programmable

It is a myth that keeping a constant temperature is cheaper. In reality, even if your HVAC has to work harder for a bit, it is cheaper to raise the temperature in your home while you are away.

Purchase an inexpensive programmable thermostat for 20 or 30 dollars. There is no need to invest in a fancy learning thermostat. While they might work a bit better, it will take you far longer to realize the savings and justify your expense.

Cook Outside

Every time you turn on that burner or oven, you are heating up your home, placing a burden on your air conditioning system.

Take advantage of the great summer weather and start cooking more of your meals outside. If you do not have a grill, invest in a cheap one on Facebook Marketplace.

Control Your Food Budget

This is particularly important if you have children at home. During these summer months, kids have nothing to do but eat, and eat they will. They need the nutrition, but you do not have to wreck your budget to feed them. Here are ways to control your spend.

Plan Your Meals

Meal planning is a popular method used to control your grocery expense. The idea is to plan out all of your meals so that you only buy the groceries that you will use. Since Americans waste about 30 percent of the groceries they buy, you can realize some big savings. An average family of four will spend 10,000 dollars a year on groceries, so that is a potential savings of up to 3000 dollars over the course of a year.

To start meal planning, just list all of the meals that you want to make over the course of a week, including snacks. Then make a list of the ingredients that you need. Finish your list by removing what you already have in your refrigerator or pantry and then go shopping.

Shop The Circulars

If you are not checking local grocery store circulars, you are throwing money away. Each week grocers release an ad highlighting a few drastically reduced products, usually meat. Sometimes they even sell these items below cost.

The idea is to lure you into the door so that you will do the rest of your shopping in their store. Take advantage of these deals by just buying the sale items. Then do the rest of your shopping at your normal store.

Join A Discount Club

If you are not already a member of a discount club like Costco or BJ’s, now might be the time to take the plunge. You might think that paying money to save money is a bad idea, but these clubs really can help you control your food budget.

If you have a family with kids, you will particularly love the savings on snack foods, especially if you go with the store brands.

The savings do not stop with food though. These discount clubs can also give you discounts on travel, tires and seasonal summer gear.

Entertain On A Dime

Summer entertainment can be expensive, if you let it. If you want to stay on budget however, there are some ways to keep spending under control.

Check For Local Events

Even the smallest of cities plan events for their residents. These events usually include things like craft fairs, movies in the park or even free concerts. Take advantage of these local events and entertain your family and yourself this summer for free.

When checking for city events, be sure to check all of your neighboring cities. Most city events are not exclusive to residents so, in most cases, you are more than welcome to take advantage of the fun.

Shop Deal Sites

Deal websites such as Groupon offer you some great savings on entertainment and food. Before you plan an activity for your family, it would pay to scan the website for local deals. Just be sure to read the fine print of your deal before you commit. Some might have blackout dates and other restrictions that could spoil the fun.

Vacation At Home

Take a look at your hometown from a vacationers perspective. There are likely all kinds of attractions that you have never taken advantage of.

Although the term is overused, a staycation can really save you some big money. The biggest expenses on most vacation are transportation and lodging. By vacationing at home, you eliminate these expenses and can devote your money to entertainment.

Save On Misc Expenses

Besides the big expenses above, there are many little ways that you can save money. A dollar here and a dollar there, in the aggregate these savings really add up. Here are some ideas.

Vehicle Expenses

Gas prices typically spike during the summer months because of increased demand. Save money and take advantage of the great summer weather by walking or biking to your destinations. Save on fuel, cut down on vehicle wear and soak in some sunshine.

Babysitting

Babysitters are expensive, so why not share a babysitter. Team up with another couple and hire a babysitter to take care of both of your children.

Gym Costs

Take advantage of the sunshine and hit the park instead of the treadmill. Place that expensive gym membership on hold or just flat out cancel it.

Entertain At Home

Instead of going out, take turns hosting parties at home. Plan pot luck dinners to make the events less stressful and to share the cost.

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