Summer is the time for sunny vacations and travel with friends and family.
You'll have fun days out on the town and at the beach. But all of this fun probably comes with a cost. No matter how you spend your money, it's important to keep track of it. At the very least, you don't want to find yourself stretched too thin when fall comes around. Breaking down a budget can be difficult though. Here are a few easy steps to follow.
1. Assess your budget needs
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The first step is figure out how much you need to spend over the summer. Think of this as your daydream number. It might not be what you'll end up spending, but it will include all the things you want to do. Total up the possible expenses of all the trips you want to take and all the places you want to visit. Write this number down for later. If it seems high now, don't worry. This is just your daydream. You'll probably need to cut down on what you want to do in order to get amore affordable figure.
2. Figure out how much you can afford to spend
Examine your finances and figure out how much funds you'll have available. Include all the money you're willing to spend. This can include what's in your checking, savings, and maybe even the limits on a few credit cards. Be careful with the credit though. You don't want to overspend and have to worry about higher minimum payments later on. Once you've figured out how much you can afford to spend without going bankrupt, compare the number to your daydream number. If it's more than or about the same as your daydream, then you're golden. If it's less or you just want to save more money, then you'll need to think about cutting back on your summer plans.
3. Trim the fat first
Do you really need to visit three different cities? How many concerts do you really need to go to? Maybe you don't need to spend so many days at the beach. Get rid of the most expensive or least important items from your itinerary. This is up to your discretion. Maybe you definitely want to attend several different theatre shows. Prioritize that, but you'll also need to cut out something else if you want to stay inside your budget.
4. Consider your transportation options
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Another way to save money is by switching from flying to driving. You can also take public transportation at your destination instead of renting a car. If you're planning a lot of local beach trips, maybe you can carpool with a friend and split the gas costs instead of driving separately. However you want to do it, transportation is likely going to be your biggest expense. Any way you can bring that total down will help you stay in your budget.
5. Lastly, think about your food costs
Food is may be your next most expensive item. We all have to eat, right? But you can still cut this back by limiting restaurant trips and stocking up on groceries instead. Of course, you'll still want to go out with your friends, but you definitely don't need to eat out every week. Limit this to the most important restaurants or occasions to minimize the impact on your budget.