Summer is a time to cut loose and have fun. But, if you’re not careful, that fun can lead to overspending, failing to keep tabs on your finances, and making money mistakes due to distractions. You certainly don’t want to be paying for those mistakes the rest of the year. So, to maintain your financial well-being while enjoying all that summer has to offer, avoid making these money mistakes for the rest of the season.
1. Overspending on Summer Fun Rather than Saving
There are plenty of temptations to spend on in the summer — travel, concerts, cocktails by the pool, and nights on the town. However, you shouldn’t stop contributing to your retirement account to fund summer fun. To avoid the temptation to overspend, contribute to retirement accounts by having payments automatically deducted from your paycheck or bank account. Then you can only spend what’s left after funding your savings.
2. Not Having a Budget for Summer Activities
To avoid overspending in the summer, you should plan activities in advance and create a fund to cover the cost. You can open a separate account or even put cash in an envelope — and stop spending once the money runs out. Without a budget for summer fun, you could end up relying on credit (and paying for your summer fun well into the next few seasons).
3. Missing Payments While Traveling
It’s easy to miss deadlines for bills — or forget to make payments entirely while traveling. “If you forget, expect late fees and a ding to your credit report,” said Jim Wang, creator of the money-saving blog WalletHacks.com. To avoid the cost of fees and a drop in your credit score, set up automatic payments through your service providers or your bank, so your bills are paid while you’re on vacation. If there are bills you can’t pay automatically, and you forget to make a payment, call the billing department to explain why you missed it and ask if you might be able to have the late fee waived.
4. Not Putting Mail Delivery on Hold
Forgetting to contact the U.S. Postal Service to stop mail delivery while you’re on vacation could put your finances at risk. To lower your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, you can put a hold on your mail by filling out an online form at USPS.com.
5. Failing to Keep an Eye Out for Fraud
Whether you’re traveling this summer or just staying busy by having fun in the sun, it’s easy to forget to keep tabs on your accounts for unusual fees or activity. However, you shouldn’t let your guard down during the summer. Log on to your bank and credit accounts regularly and set up alerts to receive text messages or emails when charges are made to your accounts to spot fraudulent activity quickly. Additionally, you should get a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to make sure unauthorized accounts haven’t been opened in your name.
6. Falling Prey to Summer Scams
Scammers take advantage of a variety of opportunities during the summer months to get people to part with their money. If you’re not careful, you could become their next victim. One of the most common scams involves offering deeply discounted vacation rental properties or vacation packages, according to the New York State Attorney General’s office. Deals that seem too good to be true and require an upfront payment or wire transfer are red flags. In many cases, vacationers arrive at their destinations only to find that the rentals don’t exist.
7. Cooling an Empty House
The air conditioner likely takes the biggest bite out of your home energy bill during the summer by accounting for nearly 50 percent of your energy use. So, if you leave the temperature setting too low while you’re at work or on vacation, your energy bill will likely soar. Try installing a programmable thermostat, so the temperature will automatically adjust while you’re away to keep you from wasting energy cooling an empty home.
8. Keeping the Blinds Open During the Day
When you’re heading to work, close the blinds to keep the sun’s rays from warming your home and making your air conditioner work harder — which means a higher electric bill. Reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by about 45 percent when closed and lowered, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Medium-colored draperies with plastic backings can reduce heat gain by about 33 percent.
9. Leaving Electronics Plugged in While on Vacation
If you leave electronics plugged in when you leave for vacation, you’ll be paying for electricity you’re not using. You can also use a power strip to turn off energy vampires with the flip of a switch. Doing this can shave 5 percent or more off your home energy bill.
10. Setting the Water Heater Too High
Leaving the water heater at its regular setting when you go away on vacation can result in wasted money too. Even when you’re at home, you should turn down the temperature on your water heater during the summer. You can save up to $30 on your energy bill for every 10 degrees you lower you water heater temperature, according to the Department of Energy.
11. Buying a New Air Conditioner Without Research
If you need to replace your air conditioner during the hot summer months, don’t let the heat push you into making rash purchasing decisions. It’s best to consult with a professional or do extensive research on ratings and proper installation techniques to get the most out of a big-ticket investment.
12. Overpaying for Child Care
Paying for child care during the summer when kids are out of school can easily break your budget. You might be able to cut the cost by pooling babysitting resources, according to nonprofit financial counseling agency, Take Charge America. For example, you could hire one babysitter to watch several children in the neighborhood and split the cost among multiple families. Or, you might be able to get several family members or friends to take turns watching the kids.
13. Spending Too Much on Summer Activities for Kids
Parents spend more than $950 per child on average for summer activities, according to a report by American Express. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize these costs. Try looking into summer camps offered through your city’s recreation department, community center or YMCA. Many churches and religious groups also offer affordable camps and programs for kids.
14. Taking a Vacation Rather than a Staycation
It’s fun to get away, but taking a vacation can put a strain on your budget. Americans who plan to travel this summer expect to spend an average of $941 per person on their trips, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Planning a staycation — rather than a vacation, is a way to cut costs and explore the town in which you live. This option eliminates two of the biggest expenses: lodging and transportation costs.
15. Charging a Vacation to a Credit Card without Plans to Pay it Off
If you charge a $3,000 beach vacation for a family of four to a credit card with a 9.90% APR and pay it off over 18 months, it would cost you an extra $240 in interest. If your APR is 19.90%, it would cost you an extra $494 in interest. If you are going to put a vacation or portion of your vacation on a credit card – be sure to have a plan in place to pay it off immediately.
16. Not Being Flexible With Travel Plans
Flights in the summer tend to be more expensive because there’s an increase in demand, said Kyle Taylor, founder of the money-saving blog, The Penny Hoarder. And you’ll pay even more if you’re not willing to be flexible about the day of week you fly. Try to use an airline or travel site’s “flexible dates” option when searching for flights to find the lowest fares.
17. Waiting Until the Last Minute to Book a Flight
If you plan to fly to your summer vacation destination, don’t wait until the last minute to book your flight. You’ll pay about $200 more per ticket, on average, if you book a flight within seven days of departure than if you book a flight three weeks to three months in advance, according to CheapAir.com. If you book between seven and 13 days from departure, you’ll pay at least $75 more.
18. Overpacking When Flying
Overpacking can be a costly mistake, especially if you’re flying on an airline that charges you to check bags. For example, American Airlines, Delta and United all charge $25 for the first bag you check and $30 to $35 for a second bag. You can avoid fees on most airlines by taking only carry-on bags — which means packing only the essentials. Or, you can stick to Southwest Airlines, which lets passengers check two bags for free.
19. Saying Yes to Car Rental Upgrades
If you rent a car for summer travel, don’t feel pressured to say yes to add-ons or upgrades. “Be polite to car rental agents trying to get you to spend more money, but decline their invitations to upgrade your vehicle, pay for insurance or prepay for gas,” said Kendal Perez, a savings expert with Coupon Sherpa. “Upgrading your car will only result in additional rental fees and gas costs, while insurance coverage is likely redundant with that provided by your personal auto insurance or your credit card.”
20. Using Debit Cards to Reserve Hotel Rooms
If you don’t use credit cards — or use them only sparingly, be careful about using a debit card to reserve a hotel room for your summer vacation. Some hotels charge an “incidental deposit” as a security deposit or for other possible charges to your room, such as room service. Typically, the charge is removed shortly after you check out. However, that money is on hold, meaning you might not be able to access needed funds in the event of an emergency. Save the expense and headache by reserving rooms with a credit card instead.
21. Using the Wrong Credit Card Overseas
A common mistake that novice travelers make when overseas is using their regular credit cards without checking to see if they charge foreign transaction fees. While many card companies charge these fees for currency conversion, some issuers offer no foreign transaction fee cards, which can save you up to 3 percent per charge. Be sure to double check your card before you take it overseas.
22. Not Notifying Your Card Company About Your Trip
If you travel outside of your normal geographic region, let your credit card company know in advance. If you don’t, the company’s fraud department might think your purchases are fraudulent.
23. Using Public WiFi While Traveling
During summer travel, people often log on to unsecure networks during layovers or while visiting local coffee shops in the cities they’re visiting. Travelers should know they’re putting personal information at risk when they log on to accounts using public WiFi networks, as hackers can steal their personal information. To avoid putting your information at risk, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) to send and receive information while using public WiFi.
24. Not Waiting for End-of-Season Sales
You might want to upgrade your grill, patio furniture or warm-weather wardrobe now that summer is here. But you likely won’t get the best prices on seasonal items until the end of summer. Waiting for fall to shop can save you 50 percent to 60 percent in some cases.
25. Not Taking Advantage of Sales Tax Holidays
You can save a lot of money by doing your back-to-school shopping during sales tax holidays, said Howard Dvorkin, founder of Debt.com. Seventeen states —primarily in the South, waive sales tax on items like clothing, school supplies and computer purchases on select days in the summer. You can learn more about sales tax holidays at the Federation of Tax Administrators’ website, Taxadmin.org.
26. Buying Produce That’s Not in Season
With the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available during the summer, it doesn’t make sense to spend more on produce that’s not in season yet. Stick to seasonal produce — such as peaches, watermelons, corn and tomatoes to save money. Another way to save on produce during the summer is by visiting your local farmers market.
27. Paying for the Gym When You’re Exercising Outside
If you’re taking advantage of the nice weather to exercise outside, don’t keep forking over money for a monthly gym fee. Instead of opting to ditch your membership — and pay an early termination fee or initiation fee to rejoin, ask if you can freeze your membership.
28. Failing to Take Advantage of Free Activities
You can avoid spending a lot of money on entertainment in the summer by taking advantage of free activities. For example, your town might offer free concerts or movies in the park. Your public library might offer free events and activities too. Check your city’s community calendar for events. Many recreation centers, museums, zoos and botanical gardens also offer free admission on certain days of the week.
29. Paying Full Price for Entertainment
Whether you’re traveling or looking for something fun to do at home, there’s a good chance that you can avoid paying full price for entertainment. For example, look for discounts on admission to amusement parks, zoos, and museums on daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial. Don’t forget to take advantage of discounts you can get through memberships in organizations like AAA or AARP. For example, AAA members get up to 30 percent off tickets to Six Flags amusement park.
30. Not Budgeting for Summer Weddings
Most weddings occur between May and October, making summer an especially pricey season if you’re invited to attend or participate in the celebrations. For example, the cost of being a bridesmaid or groomsman can top $1,000, according to a recent GOBankingRates survey. Wedding guests can spend $600 or more on average, on travel and gift costs. To reduce this cost, think carefully before you accept invitations, and keep travel costs in mind. Bridal party members should carefully consider each event associated with weddings, such as bachelor and bachelorette parties and wedding showers. Make sure what you spend on a gift is an amount you can afford.
Article Source: Cameron Huddleston for Go Banking Rates, https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/money-mistakes-probably-making-summer/