This is definitely not going to be a typical summer. Due to the coronavirus, the economic crisis, and record unemployment, many households need to save money to better cope during these unusual times. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the need to enjoy some familiar summer activities is stronger than ever.
So let’s explore some ways you can save money while still enjoying the summer season.
1. Vacation locally
With COVID-19 still a very real threat in most states, your travel options are limited. But this can actually save you money, because it encourages you to consider free or low-cost vacations close to home.
Limiting yourself to local and in-state travel is recommended for a few reasons:
- Some states are limiting travel across state lines, and may require visitors to self-quarantine for days or even weeks. If you want to travel to another state, check the rules for both the state you’re going to and the state you’re returning to.
- Airplane travel comes with the risk of sitting in an enclosed space with others for hours, and although planes use hospital-grade filters, it’s far from a guarantee against infection.
- You’ll need to be flexible in your plans; conditions are changing nearly every week. For example, some state and national parks are either closed or limiting the number of visitors per day. If you travel to a nearby park only to be turned away because they’ve reached capacity, at least you won’t have traveled very far.
Even when you limit your travel locally, be sure to take precautions just like you would at home, including wearing face masks (bring extra!), staying six feet away from others, sanitizing surfaces, and washing your hands often. It’s also a good idea to limit your travel partners to family and friends who are already part of your immediate circle and follow the same social distancing rules.
Here are more ways to save money on your local vacation and protect your health in the process:
- Pack homemade food in a cooler instead of eating takeout
- Take shorter day or weekend trips instead of one longer vacation
- Seek out less well-known destinations that are less crowded and more affordable
With some creativity and flexibility, you can still create fun memories while staying safe and frugal.
2. Start a family savings challenge
If your family decides to cut back or cancel your vacation plans this summer, make a fun family activity out of saving for a future goal. Create a contest to see who can save the most money, and cheat a little by using a retirement savings app to help you start investing for the long-term.
3. Pilot a side business
If any family members have free time on their hands, suggest they start a simple business doing something they’re good at and enjoy. Here are a few possibilities to get you started:
- Sell arts and crafts on Etsy
- Make face masks to sell in the community or online
- Bid for online freelance work on sites like Upwork
- Teach a class online using sites such as Udemy or Skillshare
4. Exercise outside
Although many gyms have re-opened, you can save money and protect your health by exercising in the great outdoors instead. With little or no equipment, you can get a great workout in your back yard, local park, or beach. Search YouTube for videos of workout ideas. Not only will you save money, but simply getting out into the sun and where you can see other people can uplift the spirit in a way that no gym can.
5. Revisit recurring expenses
To make this suggestion is a bit more fun, try a Marie Kondo approach. Take a look at the expenses that hit your account every month and decide if you still need them. If they don’t “spark joy” or if you don’t really use them often, get rid of them. For example, if you’re not commuting to work anymore, you can probably get rid of expenses like a car wash membership or monthly public transportation pass. If you’re going to exercise outdoors, cancel your gym membership. If you’re subscribed to three streaming services, consider cutting it down to just one or two.
6. Make gourmet coffee at home
Giving up your daily Starbucks to save money isn’t exactly new financial advice, but what if you could save money and still have your favorite beverage every day? You can! Many grocery stores sell gourmet coffee that you can brew at home, and there are plenty of recipe tips online to help you craft your favorite cup of joe.
Here is just one example. Many local groceries store carry a Tazo chai tea concentrate you can use to make a chai tea latte. Just mix the concentrate with milk and a bit of syrup. For less than the price of two lattes at almost any coffee chain, you’ll have the ingredients for five lattes you can make anytime, without leaving home.
7. Budget for some expenses to go up
As you cut back in some areas, keep in mind that other expenses may go up if everyone in your family is home most of the time. For example, your air conditioning bill may be higher, and you may pay more for food delivery and face masks. Be sure to take these expenses into account as you adjust your budget.
Bonus: find a few more ways to save money
Throughout this summer and beyond, we’ll be here with timely tips and advice to help you make savvy financial decisions in any circumstance. To explore topics and find more money-saving tips, check out the Freedom Debt Relief blog.
- 9 Smart Ways to Save Money on Summer Vacation (Freedom Debt Relief)
- Considerations for Travelers—Coronavirus in the US (CDC)
- A State-by-state Guide to What’s Open and How to Travel Safely in the U.S. (Travel and Leisure)
- How Depression Might Affect Spending and Debt (Freedom Debt Relief)