Summer is a great time of year for individuals and families to take it easy and recover their energy. Many Canadians enjoy going on summer vacations, going out to eat, and finding other ways to relax during the warmer summer months.
However, it’s important to control your summer spending and create a monthly budget to help you enjoy the season in a way that won’t hurt your wallet!
In today’s blog, we’ll cover some of the big summer budget items and how you can plan around them so you don’t build up debt during the warm season.
Need Help Determining Your Budget? Try our online budget calculator!
Budgeting for Food in Summer
Food is a necessary expense for anyone. However, getting healthy summer meals on a budget is something that often slips most people’s minds. Instead of cooking meals at home from inexpensive and fresh ingredients, many people opt to hit food carts, fast food places, and family restaurants to save some time and effort.
While the cost of each individual meal might not break the bank, repeatedly eating out can add up surprisingly fast — ruining your summer budget.
How Can I Enjoy Summer Meals on a Budget?
Do you want to eat well during the summer while saving some money that you can use for other things? One way to improve your food budget is to cut back on the trips to your local eatery.
Instead of hitting up a fast food restaurant (or ordering delivery) for your workplace lunch, consider packing a simple sandwich with some meat, veggies, and other condiments. Not only do you get to prepare your meal to your exact preferences, you can often prepare sandwiches for a whole week for the cost of eating out just once or twice.
Another thing to consider is creating (and then sticking to) a food plan. On this plan, you can create a list of meals you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, then buy just enough groceries to make those meals for yourself. This can help you manage your summer budget more consistently than just “fixing whatever” by keeping you goal-focused during your shopping trips. It can also prove to be healthier if you make a nutrition-based food plan.
Summer is a great time to take a vacation and recharge your proverbial batteries. However, vacations can be an enormous line item on your seasonal budget — especially if you travel overseas.
Large family vacations in the summer can easily cost thousands of dollars. For example, the cost of airfare from Toronto to Honolulu, Hawaii for a one-way economy flight is about 551 Canadian dollars per person. Other flights might be closer to $684 to go to the same destination. For a four-person family, that would be between $4,408 and $5,472 for a round trip — and that’s before accounting for lodging, food, and other expenses incurred during your stay!
How Can I Enjoy a Summer Vacation on a Budget?
So, how can you go on vacation without breaking the bank this summer? There are a few options to save your summer budget while going on vacation:
- Skip the Trip. Instead of going to a place overseas, it could be easier to simply do a “staycation” where you stay near your home while taking some time off. Ideas include going on picnics to the park, hitting up a local source of entertainment, or just relaxing at home. This is often a great idea for people who live in areas like Vaughan, Ontario that have major theme parks.
- Consider Alternative Travel Arrangements. How much time do you have set aside for your vacation? If you have a longer vacation planned, consider going by car, bus, or rail. These travel methods are often more affordable than airfare — though they aren’t always as fast (nor can you go overseas).
- Comparison Shop Your Travel Destinations. If you do go abroad, be sure to take a look at your potential travel destinations and do some “comparison shopping” to assess what amenities are available and how much they cost. This can be crucial for setting a vacation budget and finding a destination that’s affordable to stay at (and for creating an itinerary that lets you have fun more efficiently).
When preparing to travel overseas, it can help to convert some of your money into the other country’s local currency before you leave. This helps you establish a hard ceiling on your cash spending, save money on conversion and other “convenience fees” for transactions done overseas, and even shop in stores that might not accept your preferred bank card (rare these days, but still possible).
Sending Kids to Daycare/Camp for Summer
One of the challenges of the summer season for working parents is handling their kids between school seasons. While some older children might be fine being left alone in the house for hours on end, others who are younger or have special needs might not be.
One solution to this challenge is sending the kids to daycare or a summer camp to keep them busy during the day so you can continue working like normal in the summer. However, daycare and camp can get expensive.
Depending on where you live and where you go, the cost of daycare can vary from as little as $181 a month to a whopping $1,600 a month on average. Meanwhile, a “day camp” could cost between $35 and $500 per week (“overnight” camps cost between $300 and $1,000/week).
How Can I Handle the Child Care Budget in Summer?
If you need a way to ensure that your kids are taken care of during the day so you can focus on your career and paying your bills, but are on a tight budget, there are a few things you can do:
- Hire a Babysitter You Can Trust. Whether you turn to a professional babysitting service or to a friend of the family who you know you can trust, hiring a sitter can be much more affordable than sending the kids to a daycare facility. However, it is vital that you know you can trust the person you’re giving responsibility to!
- Comparison Shop Daycare Facilities. Not all daycare facilities are going to be the same. So, it’s important to shop around for a daycare facility that offers the right services at the right price for your needs. Things to consider include daycare hours, educational opportunities, play equipment staff training, and meals provided. Also, read any business reviews about the daycare online and see what other families have to say about it. The same advice also applies to summer camps!
- Ask Your Family for Help. Do you have a retired family member who can help you keep an eye on the kids during summer? One way to save on the summer budget for babysitting is to ask a relative to watch the kids for you during the day!
- Consider Working from Home. Don’t have the budget for babysitters, daycare, or camps? See if you can work from home instead. Many employers are switching to a work from home model — though not every business or position can work remotely. If you can get your employer to agree, this can help you have more time with your family, minimize your commute costs, and even reduce the temptation to eat out.
Special Events (Weddings, Family Gatherings, etc.) in Summer
A lot of people like to hold big events in the summertime. For example, in Canada, September is the most popular month for weddings — with around 20% of couples surveyed getting married during that month. Others might hold big family reunions to spend some time with relatives they rarely see while the kids are out of school.
Whatever the reason, summer seems to be a perfect time of year for hosting or joining a big event with the family.
The issue with that is that events like weddings can be an enormous strain on your summer budget. Did you know that the average cost of a wedding in Canada is around $29,450? The price of things like wedding clothes, catering, renting a venue, professional photography, furniture, and other items can add up incredibly fast.
So, if you’re planning a wedding (or another big event), what can you do to control costs to avoid racking up debt right as you enter married life?
How Can I Minimize Summer Event Expenses?
Whether you’re holding a wedding or any other big event, there are a few things you can do to help cut costs and salvage your summer budget. Specifically, some steps to minimize wedding costs include:
- Renting Wedding Clothes Vs. Buying Them. Instead of buying a wedding dress and tuxedo, consider renting them instead. Several bridal stores and online services offer rental dresses and tuxes that you can wear for the day and return after you’re done. While they still won’t be cheap, it’s often less expensive than buying the wedding clothes outright.
- Minimize the Guest List. For any event, inviting more people typically means it will be more expensive since you need more room, food, clothes, etc. for each additional person. So, instead of inviting half of Vancouver for your wedding (or other event), consider limiting your guest list to just your closest family and friends.
- Consider Non-Traditional Venues. A lot of people like to get married in a big church for that perfect, picturesque wedding moment. However, booking a church for a wedding can be both difficult and expensive. So, it can be useful to consider alternative venues for the ceremony. For example, getting married at the beach or in a public park can be every bit as picturesque and romantic as saying your vows before the pulpit. If a ceremony is the least of your concerns, you might skip the show entirely and simply file for a civil marriage with a municipal clerk or a judge in front of some witnesses.
- Minimize Your Honeymoon Costs. A honeymoon is a lot like a vacation in that it’s a big variable expense. So, a lot of the things you can do to reduce your vacation costs also apply to a honeymoon.
- Get Help Funding Your Wedding. Want a more traditional wedding but don’t have the funds? Consider asking your family and friends for help. Hosting a stag and doe party before the wedding can be a good way to raise funds and cover your basic wedding costs. Alternatively, you could start a GoFundMe campaign as well. One caveat when holding a wedding with other people’s money: Try to be as frugal and efficient as you can to avoid going over-budget — especially if you’re expected to pay back any of the money later.
How to Set Your Summer Budget
Need more help setting (and sticking to) a summer budget? Here are a few quick budgeting tips to get you through the warmer months in the Great White North:
- Use a Budgeting App. Budgeting apps can help you track your income and spending so you don’t overspend and wind up accumulating debt. However, finding the best budgeting apps can be tough.
- Focus on the Essentials. Put things like housing and food first on your budget since these are your most basic needs! Follow this with work-related expenses (transportation, work tools/uniforms, etc.). Leisure expenses should come last.
- Make an Emergency Fund. Set aside some money to cover the cost of a catastrophic event — like a tire blowing out, an emergency hospital visit, or other major expense. Having this cash on hand can help lessen the impact of such emergencies.
- Reduce Entertainment Expenses. One of the first things to cut in any budget is entertainment expenses — like trips to the theatre, video game/movie purchases, and other “for fun” expenses. Doing things like cancelling cable subscriptions and replacing them with a (much less expensive) Netflix subscription can help to minimize costs. Additionally, consider going to the library to borrow books and videos.
- Consider Downsizing Your Housing. If you rent a home, consider moving to a smaller one (or renegotiating your lease with your landlord) to help reduce your monthly bills. If you own a home, consider renting a room out to help cover the cost of your mortgage. Apps like Airbnb can be useful for this, though it’s important to exercise extreme caution when letting strangers live in your home.
If you need credit help in Ontario (or any of Canada’s other provinces), then reach out to Credit Canada. Our certified Credit Counsellors can help you manage your debt, create summer spending plans, and provide debt consolidation services to help you get debt free so you can get back to living your life!