Cool Down Summer Spending: 6 Ways to Save

father and son setting up a tent

Summer. It’s a time for fun, relaxation—and bursting budgets. From higher energy costs to destination vacations, spending can skyrocket during the summer months. Here are six ways to save on common summer expenses:

1. Reduce Cooling Costs

Electricity usage tends to peak in the summer months, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, primarily because of air conditioning. Cut down on your energy usage and save money with these ideas:

  • Adjust the thermostat. Cut up to 10 percent from cooling costs by raising your home’s temperature 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day. You can do this automatically by installing and using a programmable thermostat.
  • Use fans. Fans can supplement your air conditioner and let you turn up the thermostat about four degrees without sacrificing comfort.

2. Keep Kids Active for Less

When school’s out for summer, the kids need something to do. To keep the kids busy, parents spend an average of over $950 per child on summer activities. Keep your kids entertained for less:

  • Have a campout indoors. It’s a great way to get young kids excited about your next camping trip.
  • Turn your driveway into a game. All you need is some sidewalk chalk to play popular games like hopscotch or create a bull’s-eye for a bag toss game.

3. Plan a Thrifty Summer Trip

One of the biggest summer expenses is often a big family trip. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Domestic airfare alone costs $349 per person on average—that’s almost $1,400 for a family of four! Cut expenses by visiting cheaper destinations:

  • Visit a state park. With plenty to do for everyone in the family and affordable passes, it’s a great alternative to pricier destinations.
  • Travel to an off-season destination. For instance, southern Florida vacations are often cheapest in the summer months. Check out these tips for more summer fun that won’t bust the budget.

4. Cook More at Home

When the weather is warmer, you might enjoy socializing and dining out more. According to a recent Zagat survey, the national average spent per person on a dinner out is $36. Reduce dining costs with these alternatives:

  • Hold a potluck. Each of your friends can bring a part of the meal, reducing preparation time and money spent for everyone.
  • Take turns hosting dinner. With potlucks, you need to purchase and make food every time you get together, but if you take turns cooking the entire meal, it only needs to be done once (until it’s your turn again, that is). Another perk: buying large quantities of food can be cheaper per unit.

5. Skip the Initial Theater Release

Summer is blockbuster movie season, which can be as wallet-draining as it is fun. Average ticket prices are over $8.50 per person according to the National Association of Theater Owners. Combine this with concession markups that can exceed 1,000 percent, and costs can quickly get out of hand. Get the big screen experience for less:

  • Look for local movie-in-the-park experiences. Many public parks screen free movies in the evenings during the summer. Just pack some snacks and a blanket!
  • Check local theaters for discount programs. Matinee ticket prices are usually cheaper, and many theaters have kids’ movie deals during the summer.

6. Cut Back on Driving

Fuel prices inevitably increase in summer, so even if you’re driving the same distance, you’ll be paying more. This summer, try these tips to save on gas:

  • Carpool. Whether you’re riding with a co-worker or taking public transit, sharing a ride means less fuel consumed and more savings.
  • Ride a bike. Enjoy some great exercise and take in the sunshine if your destination is reasonably close.

Plan Ahead

This year, plan ahead for seasonal increases by making regular deposits into a savings account. Click here to learn more about into a Navy Federal Credit Union’s savings accounts; that way, you’ll be prepared for the higher-than-average spending when it comes back next summer!

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