There are smart ways to save money in the summer months when the temperature, and your bills, start to go up!
Here are some savvy strategies to lower your costs and keep more cash in your pocket as the summer progresses.
Save Money on Utility Bills
One easy way to reduce energy costs and save money in the summer months is to pay attention to your use of household appliances – especially that big energy sucker known as your air conditioner.
To save money on your utility bills by reducing your A/C usage, try these tips:
Be sure to clean your air conditioning unit and replace the filters, which helps the A/C to run more efficiently.
Use fans whenever possible. And in fact, when you are using the A/C, and then you reach a comfortable temperature, switch to fans. This can help you save money because you will cut your A/C usage by up to 40%.
Use a programmable thermostat to ensure that your central air isn’t running when you’re not home.
Don’t cool empty rooms. If you have central air in the home, close the vents in rooms that you’re not using.
Also utilize your window coverings. Pull your shades and blinds closed during the day to keep out the heat. Otherwise, your home can trap heat like a greenhouse, and it’s tougher to cool things off once you’re home from work at the end of the day.
And don’t forget about many other energy-saving tips too.
My husband and I are constantly reminding our three children to turn off the lights when they leave a room. You also want to unplug appliances when they’re not in use, especially when you’re going away for the weekend or on a longer vacation.
Anything that’s plugged in is using energy. Things like TVs, computers, gaming systems, coffee pots, toasters – pull the plug on them, or shut off the power strip – when you’re not using them.
Save Money on Gas
A lot of people are going to hit the road this summer, whether they are visiting Grandma or heading to the beach, or just taking a weekend trip.
Unfortunately, the cost of gas also tends to go up in the summer months. So here are a few smart steps to take to save you from pain at the pump.
Start by de-cluttering your car. Any excess weight you’re carrying around lowers your fuel efficiency.
The same goes for tire pressure. Inflate your tires to their optimum levels. It’s free to do at practically any gas station and you will boost your fuel efficiency.
Use cruise control. Cruise control will stop you from burning gas on unnecessary accelerations and also save you from costly speeding tickets!
And finally, get a gas app, like GasBuddy.com. Use your smartphone to find the best prices on gas. Plenty of apps will allow you to compare gas prices along your route.
If you’re going to be driving through different states in the course of your trip, you may find that gas is significantly cheaper in one state versus another. For instance, I live in New Jersey, where gas is routinely 10 to 20 cents cheaper per gallon than it is in New York.
Save Money on Hotels and Activities
Once you get to your destination, you can also save money on costs like hotels and activities.
When it comes to hotels, you really want to research the best deals and find hotels that are kid-friendly and won’t nickel and dime you for all the extras.
My kids love just hanging out at the hotel pool or lazy river or meeting other kids at the playground. When the hotel becomes part of the fun, it saves you from spending on other activities.
If a fun hotel doesn’t satisfy your kids, there is still plenty to do. But instead of going to those pricey theme parks this year – where admission can be nearly $100 per person! – consider going to one of the nation’s 2,000 federal parks and recreation sites.
If you’re willing to get outdoors and have some back-to-nature fun, you can buy an annual pass to our country’s federal parks for just $80 – a low-budget fee that covers up to four people age 16 and older for the whole year! Kids 16 and under get in free to federal parks, so that’s a huge money saver for anyone with children.
Maybe parks and the outdoor activities aren’t your thing. If that’s the case, but you still want to head out on a family trip, consider outings to zoos and museums to save money.
Many museums offer free admission days, so look into that. Others require only a suggested donation where you pay what you can afford. If you’re a family of five and you can only afford to pay $10, that’s totally acceptable.
If you happen to have joined a zoo or museum near you, check to see when they offer reciprocity days at other attractions in your area.
And don’t forget that membership at these non-profit facilities are usually either partially or fully tax deductible.
Save Money on Back-to-School Supplies
One thing my husband and I did this year which was not only a huge money saver, but also a TIME saver was buy our kids’ school supplies through the PTA.
Many school districts are doing this now and it’s cheaper because they buy supplies in bulk.
The PTA typically has a list of exactly what’s required, and then they get packages premade for each grade. So we already have our children’s school supplies for the fall. This saved us time, money and the hassle of dealing with busy lines during the back-to-school season.
If that’s not an option, don’t forget to shop your closet. Do an inventory of what you already have before you go out buying all new things. You probably have lots of leftover supplies from this past school year, or unopened supplies in the office or garage. Check all of that stuff before you go out.
Lastly, remember that many states offer tax free shopping days for back to school items. These sales tax holidays typically come around in August, and can save you a nice chunk of change – usually around 7%, 8% or 9% in sales tax – depending on where you live.
So considering waiting till that sales tax holiday and doing all your shopping on that day. Check your state’s tax department website for details.
Save Money on Summer Entertainment
I don’t know about you, but my family likes to go the movies a lot in the summertime. One great way to save on movie-going is to purchase movie tickets in bulk.
Did you know you can buy a four-pack of tickets from those warehouse discounters, such as Costco? The tickets are good for a variety of theaters and they’re relatively easy on the wallet. You get a four-pack for just $34.99. A 10-pack is $82.99. So you’re saving about $2-3 per ticket.
To save money at the movies, also try to avoid the concession stand and all those treats at the counter. They usually wind up doubling your cost of admission. Eat out before-hand, or take snacks with you where permitted.
Movies aren’t your only form of summer entertainment – especially if you have kids.
Maybe you’re thinking about summer camp for your kids but you haven’t confirmed their summer camp plans just yet. If that’s the case, don’t shell out big bucks for summer camp before exploring three ways to save money on this expense.
First, make sure you claim your tax break for summer camp. Most people don’t know it, but according to the IRS, if you send your kid(s) who are under 13 to day camp so that you can work, you could be entitled to a tax deduction of up to $3,000 for one child or $6,000 for two children.
You can also ask for scholarships to reduce your financial outlay for camp. Many camps offer scholarships – but only to those savvy enough to request them upfront.
Finally, save money by inquiring about sibling discounts or any other price breaks a camp may have. You won’t know until you ask, and special deals often aren’t well publicized.
Follow these tips and you’ll save hundreds of dollars or more during the summer.