Developing a Summer Budget

By April Lewis-Parks

The warm weather is starting to set in, and after a long winter season, you might already be planning an exotic getaway or compiling a list of fun summer events. Before you start making reservations and buying event tickets, there is one more pesky little detail to attend to: your budget.

A money management plan is important all year around, but it’s especially pertinent during the summer months when you’re likely to be traveling or enjoying outings in the sunshine. Rather than relying on your standard budget, you should factor in fun events in your budget now to give you enough time to put money toward your priorities without endangering your savings plan.

1. Focus on your needs before your wants

As usual, you must deal with business before pleasure and make a list of all necessary expenses – mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, car taxes, cellphone payments, groceries, etc. After you get these expenses factored in, you can see what you have left to play with and start putting it toward traditional savings and your “fun” savings. The latter leads us into the next summer budgeting phase.

2. Develop a separate fund for your summer plans

Maybe you want to take a trip to Santa Barbara for a week, attend a concert series or spend your time taking a new class. Regardless of what your plans are, it’s important to know how much each will cost you early on so you can start saving money. It can be helpful to develop a separate fund devoted toward these activities, as co-mingling your “fun” savings and your traditional savings can lead to accounting mistakes. More importantly, it may tempt you to overspend on these activities with your regular savings account.

3. Prioritize your events

You may have five events on the list that you want to try this summer, but it may only be financially feasible to do three. If you’ve crunched the numbers time and again and found that the sailing class you want to take is just too expensive, you may have to postpone it until next year. While having to pick and choose certain activities can be disappointing initially, you will feel better developing a savings plan for next year rather than relying on credit cards or dipping into your regular account to do them this year. Plus, it will give you something to look forward to!