Stressed about summer spending? I’m sharing my tried-and-true summer saving tips to help prevent your finances from dwindling.
As we prepared for our home renovation, the theme of this year (and really most of last year) was “try not to spend unnecessary dollars.” While we haven’t wanted or needed to zap our lifestyle to zero, the goal was to maximize dollars towards the reno, a buffer budget in case we went over, and a few things we will need to buy at the end (electric blinds are $$!).
Have we still traveled? YES. Thanks to the wonderful world of travel rewards. And of course I consider the occasional date night or concert necessary for mental health / marriage-building reasons.
Here are some of my summer saving tips followed by ways we have cut back on costs during our reno.
My Best Summer Saving Tips
1. Make a plan for every dollar
I consider myself a doctorate level budgeter!!! I love using YNAB to manage our money. (Here’s a blog post I did about it.) My brother-in-law and I have regular chats about YNAB and budgeting. And if you want to geek out to the max level, listen to the Budget Nerds Podcast (it’s put on by YNAB employees who make me LOL at how nerdy we all are).
Using a budgeting software makes me feel super organized, and I give every single dollar at work. I’m also managing all the bills we have to pay related to the renovation through YNAB so it’s been easy to keep track of where the money is going for the sub contractors as well.
2. Prorate Summer Expenses Throughout The Year
In the summer we always have our summer pool payment, a beach trip that I can’t use travel rewards for, and summer camps for the kids. Prorating summer expenses has really helped me even out my months. I prorate everything from our once-a-year auto and liability insurance to birthday and Christmas season categories. Divide any annual costs by 12 months and then put aside that much each month so you’ll never have surprise expenses.
3. Learn to travel for free
Summer is the season of travel! I have shared our credit card strategy for travel rewards and have an email course if you want to learn to get started. When we visited the Inn at Willow Grove last month, I paid for it on our Capital One Venture X card and then used points that I had sitting there to erase almost the entire stay! If you could turn a $350 hotel stay into a $100 one, that is the best of luxury living and saving money all in one.
4. Pick your own fruit!
My friend Larissa has a cherry tree in her front yard that was BOOMING with fresh cherries!! I went over one evening and she clipped down a branch for me, and I picked 100 cherries. We’ve been eating them like crazy! I was a little worried about Birch and the pits, but he just eats around them.
Aquapure sent me their produce purifier that not only cleans your produce but makes it last longer, too. These cherries were the perfect fruit to test it out on! Add a pinch of salt and submerge the device in water with your fresh produce, and it naturally eliminates up to 99% of pesticides and bacteria on your food, making it safer and helping it last longer in the fridge. If you do a lot of pick-your-own in the summertime, check it out here!
5. Trade Services
A great way to save money is to trade services with a friend or neighbor. If you’re traveling a lot, trading pet sitting with neighbors can save hundreds of dollars for both of you. My parents traded cat sitting with our neighbor Susan for decades. There are so many creative ways to trade your skills with others – we should all be doing this more! (Share if you do any trades in the comments.)
And if trade isn’t an option, maybe there are ways to side hustle your habits so you’re at least paying less for things you’ll already use (like why I joined Beautycounter to save 25% on my skincare!).
- Beautycounter just launched a 20% off sitewide sale today, so it’s a good week to stock up and save $$! Another way to save money is to add the rewards program for $10 and you’ll get it free shipping and a free full-size welcome gift!
How We’ve Cut Costs During Our Home Renovation
1. Pay Yourself Back
One plus of doing our renovation is that we’re able to put a lot of the expenses on credit cards (that we pay off in full each month with the high-interest money market holding our reno funds). This means we’re racking up lots of points right now! While we have taken some small trips (like the Inn at Willow Grove) and used travel rewards to help cover those costs, we aren’t taking any big trips in the near future.
So I’ve been using Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature to give myself some cash back this summer. One of my business cards had a promo on shipping for 25% more back, and groceries and gas stations have been a Chase Sapphire category. I’ve given us about $1500 in cash back! If you want to learn more about all of this, get on my email list and/or sign up for the Travel Freely app that will teach you lots!
2. Moving Out = Lower Bills
One great benefit to moving out of our house is that our water + gas + electric bills have been SO LOW! I didn’t even think of this until we started to receive them. A normal water bill in the summer is about $150, and last month it was $28. That’s some good savings!
3. We Paused our Peloton Membership
This is a small but not insignificant ~$150 of savings for the 3 month pause I did. I miss riding the Peloton so much, but that room is just too messy and chaotic to ride right now. We didn’t even have power at the house for a bit.
4. We Sold Stuff
I am still using up some of the cash we got from selling our old gas range and hood, and the $250 of copper piping Thomas found in our old kitchen ceiling and sold at the scrap yard! I love that our kitchen paid for some babysitter time 🙂
5. We’ve Tweaked Our Meal Plan
I’ve shopped around through the meal kits to take advantage of some of the promos they have for $100-200 of free meals. I’ve done Hello Fresh, Home Chef, and a repeat of Blue Apron. We’ve also dropped our meals per week from 3 to 2 to save a little money. I’m still doing a “cook once, eat twice” cadence, but we’re planning a super easy, kid-friendly, inexpensive meal as our third cooked meal of the week.
6. We signed up for fewer kids camps
Every week we don’t do a camp saves us almost $1,000. That’s a bit hard to believe! My boys will be home 4th of July week (because their camps never run on the 4th anyways) so we’ll be having a family fun time week that week. And we are also not doing any August camps because we’re going to stay with my parents for two weeks! Thanks to mom and dad for being unofficial camp counselors with me 🙂
Speaking of not having child care, I’m planning to take the month of August off! I’ll be sharing more about this in a post in July, but with our travels to NC, moving out of our rental, moving in to our new house, and no childcare for the month, I’m going to take my first sabbatical in 16 years of blogging!! It’s going to be a crazy 6 weeks or so, and when I thought about how I would fit in normal work stuff with the kids home and the move, I realized I should just let go of producing anything new until the dust is settled – literally! So stay tuned for announcements related to that!