Ah, summer. After the doldrums of a Midwest winter, sunny skies and swimsuit weather are welcome treats.
But as the temperature rises, so does the temptation to spend. Here are a few ways I’m keeping my credit card bill manageable during the warm weather months:
1. Re-evaluate recurring spending. Every summer, I put a hold on my Hulu Plus account. Although the savings aren’t huge, there’s no sense in paying the fee when my TV shows are on hiatus until the fall. Several of my friends report freezing their gym memberships during the warmer months and focusing on outdoor fitness they can do for a low cost or free, such as trail running and swimming. While I still enjoy escaping to an air-conditioned gym, the beginning of the summer season is prime time for deals on those expensive memberships.
2. BYOB. Is there anything better than sipping an ice-cold beverage with friends on an outdoor patio? Unfortunately, those outings add up fast. The next time outdoor imbibing strikes your fancy, consider meeting up on a friend’s porch or on a picnic blanket at a local park instead of a bar. Just be sure to check local liquor and open container ordinances.
3. Stick to meal planning. Fairs, festivals and concerts undoubtedly lead to increased opportunities for eating out. I’m of the opinion that life is too short to not enjoy a good street taco or funnel cake now and then, but I keep a watch on my wallet — and waistline — by meal planning even more extensively during the summer months. I’m far more likely to say “no” to an unplanned happy hour appetizer if I know I have a balanced, planned meal waiting for me at home.
4. Avoid the blockbuster. It’s hardly news that going to a movie theater has become extraordinarily expensive. Luckily for us, chain theaters don’t have the monopoly on cinematic entertainment. Many cities play films outdoors for free in the summertime, and drive-in theaters are a classic warm weather treat (that often give you two movies for the price of one). If you must have the air-conditioned bliss of the movies, consider checking out second-run theaters in your area, where you can often see those summer blockbusters for much less.
5. Enjoy the great outdoors. Take a hike in a local park, abandon pricey water parks in favor of local lakes and rivers, and cheer on friends in a local sports league. Summertime comes but once a year, so turn off that pricey AC and enjoy the sunshine this weekend.