4 Tips to Budget for Summer

Posted on May 15, 2024

IMAGE: Grandmother blowing bubble for grandkidSummer is a time to relax, unwind, and spend time with loved ones at a pool or beach somewhere. But you don’t have to bust your budget to schedule summer fun. Follow these four tips to budget your summer.

1. Start Planning Early and Save

If you’re planning a vacation, start budgeting early and save up to avoid using credit cards. Make a list of one or two activities that each family member would like to do. Decide which activities are within your budget and set a savings goal for any that aren’t in this year’s budget. Add up the expected costs for travel, food, hotels, admission costs, and souvenirs. If you’re driving to your destination, cut spending on food by bringing a cooler for snacks or meals instead of going to restaurants.

Once you’ve narrowed down the details of your vacation, research and ask around for deals and coupons, or follow these travel hacks from RamseySolutions.com. Look at bundling options for flights, hotels, and car rentals to save money. To prepare for unexpected travel changes, purchasing travel insurance provides refunds for last-minute cancelations.

2. Make Memories with a Staycation

If you’re saving up for a bigger vacation next summer, you can still have fun in your own backyard. Take a staycation by having a picnic at your local park or camping. Spend time outdoors hiking trails or taking a dip in a swimming pool or lake. Scavenger hunts or geocaching are fun hide-and-seek outdoor activities using map skills and GPS coordinates. Check your city’s Parks and Recreation calendar for free outdoor concerts, movie nights, splash pads, and more throughout the summer.

If you’d rather stay indoors, museums often offer discounts or free days, and libraries provide free story time for younger children and other free programs for all ages. You can also beat the heat by cooking a meal or snack together, hosting a game night or a movie marathon.

Summer is also a good time to give back by volunteering at local charitable organizations. Involve the whole family by deciding which one you’d like to contribute to and work together to volunteer at events or gather needed supplies.

3. Take a Day Trip

State parks are a budget-friendly destination, and there are many lakes, rivers, natural springs, and beaches to cool off in Texas. Visit the Texas State Parks website in advance for availability, purchase a park pass, or make a reservation to camp overnight. Keep in mind that popular swimming holes like Hamilton Pool or Blue Hole Regional Park require reservations for day passes. Resorts or hotels with pools also offer day passes without requiring hotel reservations.

Besides state parks, float the Guadalupe or Comal Rivers in New Braunfels or wade in creeks in Salado or Belton. Read “7 Refreshing Nearby Swimming Holes” from Austin Monthly for other day trip ideas in central Texas. Several caverns in central Texas provide relief from the summer heat, including Natural Bridge, Longhorn, or Inner Space Caverns.
If you’re saving money and traveling more than a couple hours away, ask friends or family members if they have room for you to stay a night or two. But remember the Benjamin Franklin quote, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Don’t overstay your welcome and consider cooking a meal or other gift of thanks.

4. Shop Tax-Free Weekend for Back-to-School

Once you’re winding down summer and getting ready again for school, save on clothing, shoes, school supplies, and backpacks by shopping during tax-free weekend at Texas stores. Tax-free weekend is usually the first weekend or two in August, and in 2024 it begins on Friday, August 9, and goes through midnight on Sunday, August 11. Shop either in person or online from retailers doing business in Texas. If you pay sales tax on qualifying items during this time, you can ask the seller for a refund. Learn more and find the list of qualifying items from the Texas Comptroller.

No matter what fun your summer holds, plan wisely to save your pocketbook. If your child is a Dollar Squad member, Texell hosts a Dollar Squad VIP event each summer, a free event to thank you for your membership. Save the date for this year’s event on July 19 at Summer Fun Water Park. We’ll send out details and registration in the next Squad Report newsletter. Texell waives the membership fee, and membership is open to children ages 12 and under. Visit Texell.org to learn more and open an account today.

If you wish to comment on this article or have an idea for a topic we should cover, we want to hear from you! Email us at editor@texell.org.

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