You can save money throughout the year, but the warm temperatures of summer and kids' school vacation or yours call for specific strategies that don't apply in the winter months.
There are some obvious money-conserving strategies that probably have occurred to you already. For example, you could spend your vacation camping in a beautiful state park instead of visiting an expensive city and staying in a pricey hotel. But there are a variety of smaller-scale strategies you can try that will add up, too.
Summer Saving Tips
Stumped for ideas on how to save money when the weather begins to heat up? Here are six low-stress ideas you can use to save money during those warm months of summer:
- Turn off the air conditioning. This tip doesn’t mean you have to suffer through sweltering heat, but you should be aware of the weather so that you can maximize efficiency and save money by using the AC only when needed. For example, if it is going to be a cool night, turn off the air before heading to bed and open a few windows. It can help to have a cross-ventilation setup. To do this, open windows on opposite sides of your home, and set up a fan to exhaust out one window. This window fan pulls the cooler nighttime air into your home while removing warmer, stuffier daytime air.
- Cook outside. Using the stove or baking in the oven can create a lot of excess heat that has nowhere to go except in your house. Consider taking meal plans to the barbecue grill outside so that you can keep your cool inside. A bonus: cooking out turns a plain dinner into a fun picnic.
- Let your laundry dry outside. If you can hang up laundry outside (not every homeowners' association or rental property allows this), let the sun and warm summer breeze do the drying for you. You'll be amazed at how fresh your clothes smell once they've baked in the sun for a while. Even if you can’t hang up clothes outside, try using your dryer on a lower heat setting or only partially drying your shirts and letting them air dry the rest of the way.
- Take advantage of extended evenings. Instead of retiring to the couch to stream a show, use the extended daylight hours to enjoy the great outdoors. You'll save money on electricity by not running the electronics and indoor lights, and get some exercise, too. Use the long days to even engage in some money-producing activity from the gig economy such as driving, walking dogs, serving outside in some a few hours in some capacity. Walk to work or ride your bike instead of driving to the office. The summer weather and the longer daylight are favorable for all these.
- Replace your air conditioner filters. This regular maintenance can be easy to overlook, but a dirty filter can increase your cooling costs. Dirty filters restrict the airflow and the efficiency of the air conditioner, which translates into more run time and higher cooling costs. Filters are cheap, so replace them regularly.
- Plan ahead for future home and garden projects. As summer begins to wind down, it is a perfect time to be on the lookout for season-ending sales. Landscape plants, tools, and other outdoor project materials tend to go on sale as people begin to look toward autumn and spending less time outside.
Have a Plan for Summer Savings
If you're saving money all summer, that's great, but it's important to have a plan for what you're stashing away. First, figure out what your goals are for saving. Do you want to grow your emergency fund? Save money to make upgrades to your home? Buy a car? Plan a winter vacation somewhere warm?
Setting goals for savings can help you stay motivated to keep saving throughout the summer and beyond. Make sure your goals are specific, realistic, and that you have a clear time frame for reaching them. Using a budgeting app that includes a savings goal tracker can help you monitor your progress.
Next, think about where you want to keep your summer savings. It could be a high-yield savings account, money market account, CD account, or even an individual retirement account. Where you decide to save may tie into your savings goals and when you plan to use the money you're saving.
Savings accounts and money market accounts are liquid, meaning you can withdraw your savings fairly easily if need be. CD accounts are time deposits, which means that if you withdraw funds before your CD matures, you may face a penalty. IRAs are designed for long-term savings, and early withdrawals before age 59½ can trigger a 10% tax penalty. With any savings account, remember to check the fees, minimum balance or minimum deposit requirements, and the interest rate you can earn.
Finally, begin planning for next summer's savings. When fall begins, look back at the different ways you saved money over the summer. Use that as a guide to set new savings goals for the next year and challenge yourself to save even more.