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Credit Coach: Sun Time Fun Time: Staying on top of your summertime budget

With only a few weeks left in the school calendar, now is the time to start planning for your summer fun without adding to the family debt. With each change of season we are presented with different budget challenges.
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With only a few weeks left in the school calendar, now is the time to start planning for your summer fun without adding to the family debt.

With each change of season we are presented with different budget challenges. Preplanning for the summer holidays will help you get the most out of the next eight to twelve weeks.

So with summer on the horizon and the sausages set for the grill, what are the things you should be focusing on?

One of the first items you should be reviewing before slathering on the sunscreen and heading out on the road is how well you managed the budget challenges of the past six months. Did you overspend at Christmas? Did you follow that up with a quick sun-filled getaway for spring break? Did you go all out on the spring cleanup?

If you’re already behind on your debt repayment or struggling with expenses from week to week perhaps planning for a modest summer is needed. Compounding past overindulgences because “hey you only live once” is not going to set you up to avoid the stresses of the added costs of back to school shopping once the end of summer rolls around.

Once you have taken a hard look at how beach-ready your budget is, it is now time to focus and prioritize on the long-term goals you have established within the household. A pre-summer check in on items such as retirement savings, education savings and home appliance replacement funds will help keep you grounded when looking at summertime wants vs long-term financial needs.

Now that you have reviewed your budget and made concessions for the long-term financial goals of the house you are ready to sit and plan your summertime activities.

These three ideas should help you get the most out of the summer without adding to the family debt load.

  1. Plan ahead with family and friends. Discussing summer plans and purchases ahead of time is a great way to avoid duplication on purchases or overspending. By planning out family events, parties and BBQs you can hopefully pre shop without pressure and contribute what you can truly afford. Pre-planning your summer with friends and family may also help you reduce costs by sharing on expenses such as yard tool rentals. And, a potluck is often the best way to stretch the food budget!
  2. Be mindful of your spending. Make sure to have a summer budget and stick to it. A 2015 BMO summer spending survey showed that spending by Canadian families more than doubles in the summer months. Having a budget and sticking to it will help you avoid the summer indulgences you can’t afford.
  3. Look for free fun in your community. They say “the best things in life are free” — the idiom, meme or proverb is genuinely rooted in truth. Looking at the summer as a time to walk in the park, ride a bike through the woods, attend an open air concert in the park are all activities we can plan to include in our summer plans that often do not cost us anything.

By planning your activities around street fairs and community activities, you not only are contributing to the social fabric of our community you are helping your budget. A staycation that allows for exploration in the shops of your own city can often help you affordably uncover hidden gems right on your doorstep.

Is your budget beach ready? Are you planning a staycation or a cross country road trip? We want to hear about your summer savings strategies and fun-time plans. You can leave a comment, share your ideas on Facebook or joint the conversation on Twitter. @JScreditcoach

Jayson Stoppel is a Licensed Insolvency Trustee and Chartered Accountant with BDO First Call Debt Solutions. With over 17 years in practice, Jayson assists individuals, families and companies with financial difficulties in Thunder Bay and throughout Northwest Ontario. To reach Jayson by email:  JStoppel@BDO.ca 




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