With all the fun events and activities that summer brings, don’t let over-spending this season cut the fun short!
Summer is officially here, according to the calendar. While the official start of summer happened earlier this week, it has felt like summer since the weather has started to warm up and school let out. While there are many great things about summer – longer days, nicer weather (at least for the moment) and more activities to participate in – these things can also be budget killers.
Kids need things to do, and longer days entice you to be out and active for longer. This is on top of other summer expenses like vacations and higher utility bills from the heat. What can you do to prevent your spending from spiking?
Your plan of action
The best way to get ahead of the spending curve is to focus on saving money and reducing spending. Try these tips to put yourself and your family in the best position for a fiscally sound summer:
- Get in the right mindset– try finding fulfillment without spending money. One popular exercise is to write down three things you are thankful for every day. This helps you become more content and to stop searching for “more” and “better.” Try to focus on the great things you already have!
- Clear out your mind and your home- kick off your savings quest with a spring/early summer cleaning session. Not only will this help you in selling things you need and finding things you forgot you had, but it will also help you re-tune your wants.
- Try out “no-spends”- build up your savings account by trying out a days, weeks, or, if you can, months of no spending. While you may not hit your goal of spending nothing, focusing on spending less will help.
- Look for budget-friendly activities- church camps and activities put on by community organizations are often low in cost, so be on the watch for those. There are also plenty of festivals, outdoor parties and other events during the summer that may cost little or nothing for an evening of family fun.
- Do more of your own cooking- it’s so easy to “grab a quick bite to eat” somewhere or to take the kids out for dessert on long summer evenings. Instead, produce more meals at home. They are generally healthier, in smaller portions and more satisfying than $40 spent at a restaurant that can be too cold or too loud.
What other ideas do you have for curbing your summer spending? You can let us know by leaving us a comment or posting on our Facebook page.
Summer is meant to be fun, but that shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of your finances. Look for ways to have fun and stay entertained while being conscious of costs this summer.
Titonka Savings Bank, Member FDIC
Getting a check-up is never fun, but evaluating your finances is an important part in being fiscally responsible.
Who actually enjoys a checkup?
Whether you’re visiting the doctor, dentist or taking your car in, checkups often come with unpleasant news of things we’ve neglected or need to have fixed. But isn’t that the point of a checkup? Shouldn’t you need to know what you’ve been doing wrong in order to fix it?
At Titonka Savings Bank, we believe your finances need regular checkups as well. Evaluating your finances regularly can help keep your budget on track, your spending in check and debt at manageable levels.
As we’re about halfway through the year, we thought now would be a good time to do a financial self-check. Go through the following questions to see how you are doing with your finances.
- Are you following a budget? Using a budget helps you know where each dollar is going.
- Are you monitoring your spending? Checking regularly to see if you are going over budget in any spending areas is critical to refining your spending habits.
- Are you making impulsive spending decisions? If so, remember this phrase to ask yourself before any purchase: do I really need this?
- Do you have a savings plan set up? This includes what you will be putting into your savings account and how often (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly).
- Are you being consistent with your savings contributions? Saving money is a marathon, not a sprint. Improve consistency by setting up an auto-transfer from your checking to your savings on your paydays.
- Do you have goals? You need to have both short and long-term goals to measure your progress and give yourself something to shoot for.
- Do you have a separate retirement account set up? This can be through your employer or on your own. Either way, you need to have somewhere to save for retirement.
- Are you making contributions to retirement? Regardless of age, you should be making regular contributions to fund your retirement.
- What goals do you have for retirement? You need to know what it will take to live the way you want in retirement and work toward that specific number.
- How much do you use your credit card? Regular use for certain expenses is healthy; relying on your credit card for most of your purchases is not.
- Are you paying off your balance each month? If not, you’re costing yourself in interest payments and late fees, as well as damaging your credit score.
Loans & Mortgages
- Do you have a payoff plan in place? This is important if you’re juggling multiple loan payments to help increase the efficiency of your money and to pay as little interest along the way as possible.
- Are you making payments on time? Late payments, missed payments and incomplete payments mean more in interest and lower your credit score.
- Can you make extra payments? This is the best way to negate the amount of interest you pay over time, and also shortens the life of the loan.
How are you doing? Whether you feel good or bad about your answers, the best thing is that you can always take charge and fix your weaknesses. Titonka Savings Bank is here to help any way we can with that process, so feel free to call or stop by our offices in Titonka, Thompson or Forest City today!
Titonka Savings Bank, Member FDIC
Don’t let the cost of attending a wedding ruin the fun this wedding season.
One of the best things about spring and summer is that they are known as “wedding season.” Maybe you’ve already been to a wedding or two by now, or perhaps you have a few weddings coming up soon.
When it comes to weddings and what they cost, the usual focus is on how much the bride, groom and their families are paying. But what about the guests? Recent data from American Express shows that if you are a wedding guest, you can expect to spend about $673 on average per wedding.
How are weddings so expensive? Here are five costs that may make you think twice about marking the “attending” box on all those wedding invites.
- The gift- are you prepared to drop $100 or more on a wedding gift? The average amount spent on gifts in 2015 is about $106. That can be in addition to the $75 or more you may have to spend if you’re lucky enough to be a part of the bridal shower.
- The hotel- depending on where your wedding is, the hotel can get costly in a hurry. The average hotel room costs $170 per night, so you may want to try and stay only one night if possible to limit the damage.
- Travel- whether you’re driving or flying, traveling to a family member or friend’s wedding is expensive between gas, plane tickets and meals.
- Drinks and tips- This all depends on what the bar situation is at the wedding, but you should assume it’s a cash bar just to be prepared. Also, be sure to tip the bartenders/wait staff. You don’t want to be that person.
- Extras- this includes things like being a part of the bachelor or bachelorette parties ($85) or being in the wedding party ($150 for tux rental or a bridesmaid dress).
So, what’s your move?
If you have multiple weddings this summer, prioritize them from most to least important. For those that are musts, budget in your expenses. For the weddings you can’t attend:
- Send back the invitation stating you won’t be attending
- Follow up with a nice card and telephone call
It’s better for you to celebrate from afar rather than hurt your own finances to celebrate in person.
Good luck this wedding season!
Titonka Savings Bank, Member FDIC