Fighting the Summer Spending Spree
Let’s admit it: summer is the time of year when the pocketbook opens a little easier. It’s nice outside. If you have children, they’re wandering around the house a little bored. Friends send invitations to parties out on the deck or maybe at the beach. Amusement and water parks seem to call out to you…and once they lure you in with pretty lights and big rides, then you find that for just ten dollars more you can upgrade your experience at the whatever-that-thingy-is-you’re-doing-now.
It’s easy to spend too much money in the summer.
So how do you guard against overspending? Especially for those of us building artistic careers, overspending is dangerous. We have so much to offer with our talents, that every dollar we waste could have possibly been spent improving our craft. Here are my thoughts on controlling spending over the summer:
1) Keep your long term goals front and center. Sure, a trip to an amusement park would be fun, but would it be as fun as succeeding at your craft? Of course not. If you keep your goals close, you’ll avoid disposable experiences.
2) Leave cash at home….it’s your kryptonite. If I have cash in my pocket, especially if I’m walking past a bakery in the summer, there’s a good chance that my money is going to magically turn into a cupcake! If you’re likely to still pull out your ATM card (because not carrying cash isn’t enough of a deterrent), get in the habit of writing down your expenses. While this is a good practice under normal circumstances, it’s amazing how many cupcakes I’ll avoid if I know I’m going to write about it!
3) Search for deals like Sherlock Holmes. If you’re headed to an amusement park, water park, or a museum, find days that are less expensive or coupons. Today I noticed a $10 off coupon at my grocery for the closest Six Flags park. Water parks often give discounts on off-peak days. Visit the websites of the attractions you’re visiting and perform a quick Google or Bing search. You’ll be surprised about what you uncover.
4) Restaurant? Who needs a stinkin’ restaurant? Find alternatives. Rather than hanging out at a restaurant with friends, how about a potluck in the backyard instead? Instead of a $10 movie and $20 popcorn, how about board games or a flick at home? There are fun, low cost alternatives to most expensive ideas.
5) Just Say No. If you have a strict budget, it doesn’t make sense to change it just because “everyone else is going.” Stick to your guns. If you decide that the opportunity is too good to pass up, drop some other entertainment options later in the summer to compensate.
6) Pretend you’re Bob Vila. Dig into home projects. Summer isn’t just a time to spend money. It’s also a time to garden, clean the garage, landscape, or start that decorating project. By focusing on the lowest-cost tasks and watching do-it-yourself videos, you’ll be able to cut costs and accomplish some amazing tasks while the weather is warm.
7) Fight for your right to exercise! Here’s what I love about exercise: I’m out in the fresh air, I sleep better (and am tired earlier), and I generally have better habits (I don’t know if this is because I have a clear head or because I’m too tired to spend!). There are many programs you can join, but a fun, no cost option is the Couch Potato to 5k. Set yourself a 5k goal in the early autumn and spend your summer preparing!
Finally, think about this: imagine how you’ll feel at the end of summer if your pocketbook is intact. Then consider just how miserable you’ll be if your pocketbook is empty headed into fall. It IS possible to have fun and be responsible with your money, you just have to think creatively…and luckily that’s what you do best!