By, State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt
Winter...It is FINALLY over! Has it as brutally cold and seemingly endless for you as it has for me? It is time for some sunshine to help get us out from underneath the hibernation of these winter months. As the days get longer and the temperature warms, we get ready to do our seasonal activities such as lawn projects, camping, house maintenance, and summer vacations. There is one thing in common with each…spending money. Through the dark, cold days of winter, we tend to stay home, but when summer arrives, we are ready to get outside and enjoy life; which may leave us financially stretched by the end of the summer.
So how do we stay on track during the summer months and still feel like we are enjoying yourselves?
It's never too late to start planning. One tip that works well for us is using a bucket system. The “general expenses bucket,” the “savings bucket,” the “retirement bucket,” and the “summer expense bucket.” When we sit down to complete our monthly budget, we make sure our dollars are committed to one of these buckets and ensure there is nothing left over to spend on last-minute items. This is often referred to as a zero-balance budget. This way we are saving every week and by the time summer arrives; We are prepared and do not need to take from our “general expense bucket.” This may be a bit late for this summer, but there is time for next summer.
Here are ideas to speed up your savings: 1. scale back on leisurely expenses for a few months. It’s incredible how quickly dollars add up with small changes. Ask yourself if you really need that new purse or fishing rod? Could you put that $50 towards your savings? 2. Have you decluttered your home or closet lately? Are there items you could sell and add to your savings? 3. prepare your own food. Bring lunches to work every day for a few months, and limit dinners out. It’s healthier, and the money spent on groceries will be much less than what you would have spent while dining out.
Plan, plan, plan early, do not wait to commit to your summer plans. Create a list of all the activities you want to do and what the estimated costs for each event, so you can prepare. Once you have set aside those dollars for summer, you can enjoy those activities guilt-free. What a great gift!
May your summer be filled with family, friends and beautiful memories!