As mild temperatures give way to summer heat, June is a time to indulge in cool relaxation and perhaps a refreshing vacation. It’s great to get away, but you probably want to do so without blowing your budget. Here are some moves you can make this month to enjoy the summer while staying on track financially for the rest of the year.
Watch vacation spending
Summer vacation is a time when you might think you deserve to splurge, especially if you’ve been saving up for an anticipated trip. But if you watch what you spend and stay within your budget, you probably won’t have to worry about a post-vacation financial hangover.
Desiree Miller of Woodstock, Georgia, has four kids ages 9 to 20, and she’s learned many ways to save money during family vacations over the years. She says one tip that has worked well with her kids is to let them set their own budgets for souvenirs.
At the start of a trip, the children know how much they can spend on extras, and they can decide whether that awesome stuffed animal or T-shirt is truly worth the money, says Miller, who blogs at StressFreeBaby.com.
“You may be surprised at how selective kids become when it’s ‘their’ money to spend,” she says. (This tip works for adults, too.)
In addition to setting up a souvenir budget, Miller often packs a cooler with her family’s favorite food and drinks for road trips to cut down on paying high food prices along the way. Not only does that help control spending, but she also doesn’t have to worry about finding a menu that pleases everyone because she’s brought along preferred foods, Miller says.
Take steps to protect your identity
Whether you’re traveling far away or relaxing in your hometown, you’ll probably spend some time this month using public Wi-Fi networks at places such as hotel rooms or coffee shops. Surfing online should be fine, but think twice about shopping or pulling up your bank balance on these public networks, says Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, a personal finance and lifestyle blogger in St. Louis. She says she’s always careful in such situations.
“You never know who’s on the other end of the Wi-Fi signal. Someone may be logging each key you enter so that they can hack into your financial accounts,” she says.
If you bring a laptop with you when you’re traveling out of town, be mindful of what documents or files are stored on the device. It might be best to keep files with tax returns and bank statements on a home computer that doesn’t accompany you to the beach. It’s also smart to password-protect any device you do bring along on vacation. That way, if it falls into the wrong hands, at least the data isn’t easily accessible.
Start saving now for the holidays
In June, snow-covered holidays might be the last thing you’re thinking about, but summer is a great time of year to start preparing for the end-of-year gift-giving season. That’s because you can start putting away a little money now on a regular basis for holiday spending with minimal effect on your budget.
Consider setting up an automated transfer of funds to your savings account with each pay period. If you get paid twice a month and start saving now, you’ll only need to sock away $50 from each paycheck to have $500 to spend by the time Black Friday rolls around.
The bottom line
June is a great time for rest and relaxation, but don’t let that mindset lull you into complacency when it comes to your finances. Enjoy any vacations you have planned, but spend wisely, and take time now to build up your savings for holiday treats at the end of the year.
Illustration by Dora Pintek.