Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How We Resist Summer Spending Temptations

Here in the Midwest, our family finds it relatively easy to save money and work hard over the winter months. Snow, wind, rain, and cold weather tend to keep us indoors much of the time, and our urge to spend money is greatly reduced simply by that fact that we don’t want to have to bundle up and head outdoors.

However, when summer arrives – and with it warm temperatures and pleasant weather – we’re out and about, and the temptation to spend and overindulge can leave us struggling to stay within our budget.

Therefore, we tend to take some steps during the warmer months in order to keep our spending urges down and continue to abide by our budget.

Window Shopping…and Eating
We live in a sort of boutique-style neighborhood. There are tons of great restaurants, eateries, stores, and shops. This can be quite a temptation during the summer, especially when we end up taking a walk around our little village once or twice a day.

We’ve learned however, to take pleasure simply in the walk itself. We enjoy indulging by way of others. Window shopping and browsing is one thing, but with plenty of sidewalk seating for the various eateries, we end up getting to see all the other great meals and dishes that others are enjoying.

Not only is this great inspiration and a lot of fun, but we can typically steal these ideas and make them ourselves by way of internet recipes for much less than they would cost if we actually purchased them at restaurants. This tactic helps us keep our “going-out-to-eat” entertainment budget around $100 to $120 a month for a family of three.

Maintaining our Regular Budget
It is certainly a temptation to raise our budget come the summer months. However, doing so would only act as the go-ahead to throw caution to the wind and spend more money than we should. By maintaining our regular budget, we reign in our spending, force ourselves to look for better deals, coupons, and budget buys, and stretch our dollars.

By using local ad booklets that come in the mail, searching for coupons in local newspapers, and looking for daily and lunch specials at restaurants, we can still partake in plenty of activities, but are able to do so at a much reduced cost.
For example, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve used a 2 for $5 coupon at the local ice cream shop, a “15 percent off” coupon at an area restaurant, and a 3 for 2 go-karting coupon that have in effect saved us about $14 on just these three activities alone.

Taking Advantage of Low Cost or Free Activities
One of the great things about summer for our family is that there are so many free activities in which to participate. From heading out to various festivals and art shows, to walking over to the library, going to parks, cooking out, playing sports, heading to the zoo (which is free once we buy our family zoo pass for about $100 and that allows us unlimited entry for a year), and similar events.

These activities help us stay active and entertained, and do so with very little – if any – negative effects to our budget.

Grilling Out Instead of Going Out
We enjoy going out to eat, but doing so can have costs adding up in a hurry, and if we’re looking to keep from spending more during the summer, it pays to look for other culinary options that aren’t as expensive. Therefore, we tend to do more cooking outside during the summer.

Not only is it nice to spend time outside, but we like cooking a variety of foods on the grill and it cuts our food costs significantly when compared to going out to eat. We can pick up some Italian sausage, cook up some burgers, throw some chicken breasts on, or do some grilled veggies for a fraction of what it might cost to go out to eat, and the best part is, since I’m typically chef and server, we don’t have to tip!

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