Summertime is often the best time of the year to spend time with family and plan something fun. With the kids out of school, plenty of vacation time accrued at work and a fully funded travel budget, you may even be able to book a getaway somewhere tropical, historic or particularly appealing to your family’s interests and tastes.
But there are summer spending traps to be aware of — both on vacation and at home. If you want to get through the summer season without breaking the bank, watch out for these sneaky, yet prevalent expenses that can spiral easily when everyone is home together.
- Managing summer-time grocery bills. The average consumer spends an annual sum of $5,259 on food at home and $3,030 on dining out at last count, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but those numbers can easily surge when kids don’t have school lunch and can snack the day away at home. To manage the increase in your grocery bill, create a meal plan that covers most lunches and dinners during summer months. Use the plan to shop sales at your local grocery store and do your best to avoid eating out due to convenience — even on those days when you’re running kids between different activities.
- Outrageous utilities. Having everyone at home, or at least home more often, can also cause summer utility bills to climb to new heights. This is especially true if you live in areas of the country where it’s especially hot, and skipping air conditioning is out of the question. To keep costs down, consider investing in a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts temperatures down when everyone is away from home and overnight.
- Creeping costs for airfare. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows the cost of domestic airfare increased 14.1% from 2021 to 2022. To fight these prices or avoid them completely, consider traveling closer to home (and even driving to your destination). Consider booking airfare with a discount airline or redeeming travel rewards to help defray costs.
- Other travel expenses. Also look for additional ways to save on your upcoming summer trip, whether you plan to book a hotel stay, you already booked a cruise or you’re considering an old-fashioned summer road trip with the family. To save some cash, try eating in and avoiding restaurants when possible, shopping around online to find the lowest prices for hotels and resorts, and even using a travel agent to find the best last-minute travel deals.
- Hidden costs for activities. Finally, remember that your kids’ sports and activities don’t have to break the budget this summer. Instead of hitting your favorite fast-food restaurants between practices and games, pack a cooler in the car with drinks, sandwiches and snacks. Also map out routes that let you run errands while you’re out and about so you can save both time and gas money.
Summer is often full of surprises, but you shouldn’t let the coming months drain your bank account.