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If you’re anything like me and 72,000 other ladies out there, you’ve felt the effects of summer on your wallet. Outdoor concerts, Saturdays spent on the lake, margaritas on the patio of your fav tequila joint…they tend to get the best of us, and before you know it, summer’s gone and so is all of that progress you had been making towards your goals. Damn you, patio beers.
However, these summer months aren’t over yet, which means there’s still time to mitigate any damage you’ve made to your bank account. Here are 10 tips you can implement to ensure you still get to enjoy that warm weather AND stay on track with your money. Have your cake and eat it, too? Yes, please.
Farmers markets and swimsuit sales will continue to kill your cash until you get re-motivated to tackle your goals. Period.
Thus, you need to figure out how to refocus your mindset so that you are excited about dedicating at least some of your time and energy back into those activities that serve your goals. My suggestion? Read one of these bomba$$ books – they are sure to give you the kick in the booty you need to get your entire focus off of scheduling your social life and back on your bank account.
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – The creator of Scandal basically tells you it’s ok to say no AND illustrates how your life can change significantly for the better if you decide to step out of your comfort zone. It’s paper gold.
Girlboss by Sophia Amaruso – This girl built a biz from nothing. Like absolutely nothing. If her story doesn’t inspire you, then your soul might be made of ice.
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero – The byline is “How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.” Um, need I say more?
PRIORITIZE YOUR SPENDING
Listen, I don’t want you to become a hermit. I don’t ever want to be a one, and I’m sure as hell not going to suggest you do something that I wouldn’t want to do.
But when you’re chasing goals, whether that’s paying off debt, saving for a trip, or trying to build up your credit score to be able to purchase a home, you’re going to have to give up some things. Not all the things. Just some. Which means that you will need to prioritize what is worth spending your money on and what isn’t.
We’d all love to be able to do it all, but at some point you have to put on your big girl pants and realize that to get what you want the most, you’ll have to give up what you value the least. It’s all about tradeoffs, but at least it’s tradeoffs you get to decide. How’s that for a power trip?
CREATE A BUDGET
Ladies, just f#$@ing do this already. If you don’t create a budget, especially in the summer months, then you will soon find your cash flying out the door without you knowing where the hell it went. Not a great situation.
To get back on track to your money goals, you need, need, NEED to create a budget. No excuses. By doing this, you’ll be able to make sure all of your needs are met, your goals are being funded, and you have some money left to have a little fun. Triple win. Can’t beat that.
…AND STICK TO IT
As great as creating a budget is, it’s only effective if you actually stick to it. I know. Shocker. But you’d be surprised at how many people don’t follow through with the plans they set at the beginning of the month.
The best way to do this? Spend 5 minutes per day tracking your spending. Set a designated time each day (like during your lunch hour or when you get home from the gym at night) to list everything you spent in the last 24 hours. You’ll ensure that you stay within the limits of your budget, and all in the time it takes to check your Instagram feed.
If you find this still isn’t enough, you can go all Dave Ramsey-style and utilize the envelope system – withdraw the amount of cash for your top 5 “discretionary” expense categories (rent & utilities excluded), put them in envelopes, and when that cash is gone, you’re either done spending money in that category or you’re going to have to borrow from one of your other ones to cover it.
Seem too much? Just do it for the one category that seems to always be a money pit. If you frequently overspend on clothes, just utilize the envelope method for that one category. If you find you’re a restaurant fiend, make an envelope for that. This way you’ll be tackling the one area that does the most damage to your budget with minimal effort.
OVERHAUL YOUR TRAVEL PLANS
Summer is inevitably a time when most of us take a trip, and when you’re considering the cost of flight, hotel, food, etc., the amount of money you’re seemingly going to have to shell out can cause a minor heart attack.
If you’ve already killed your budget this summer, consider making some adjustments to your travel plans. Visit a city where you have friends so that you can save money on a hotel for at least a night or two. Skip the hotel and find a cheaper Airbnb. Stay somewhere with a kitchen so that you can cook a few meals while there. ALWAYS eat breakfast in.
When it comes to saving on flights, remember to clear your cache every time you start a new search for tickets online. Some airlines or travel sights will notice that you’ve been looking and bump up the price accordingly.
Better yet, get your flight for free. If you use the link below, you can get 40,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points simply by spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. That’s two (TWO!) roundtrip flights from Chicago to Phoenix. Or Denver. Or New York. Um, how’s that for a deal?
Just remember, don’t buy things just for the rewards. If you aren’t going to spend that much in a 3-month spread, forget it. That deal or one just like it will still be there when you have the means to take advantage of it.
FIND YOUR SIDE HUSTLE
It’s summer and I want you to work? Damn straight, sister.
Here are the two best things about side hustles:
1) They make you more money, which is key in those months where you’ve already blown all your cash on Natty Light and swimsuits for your weekend boat trips.
2) They keep you from spending so much because you’re at least spending part of your time working at or on that side hustle. I can’t tell you how much boredom has cost me in the past, and it’s one reason I love blogging so much – it keeps me busy and my wallet happy.
Do a little research on yourself and on Google and see how you can mirror up your passion with a side gig that pays. It doesn’t have to earn you much, but you do need to make enough to counteract the damage you’ve already done this summer. And I ain’t talking about the kind you’ve done to your skin.
GET YOUR CREDIT SCORE IN CHECK
The best way to help your credit score is to always pay your bills on time. ALWAYS.
However, if you’re anything like me, sometimes life gets in the way, and before you know it, you’re 2 days past due on your water bill. Again.
I’ve found that utilizing Prism has helped me tremendously in keeping track of my bills and paying them on time. It’s a free bill management app that I’ve used for years (and no, they aren’t paying me to promote this – I just love it that much), and it’s saved me more than once from getting charged late fees and having my credit dinged. Okay, maybe more than once, but who’s counting.
DEVELOP YOUR “NO MONEY” LIST (FREE ACTIVITIES)
Unless you dedicate yourself to being a hermit from May through August, you’ll have noticed how expensive summer always seems to be. Without a doubt, I will exceed my savings goal in the winter months every year, but that warm weather comes around and coerces me out of my hard-earned dollars. I mean, have you seen how expensive craft beer festivals have become?
Thus, it’s important to come up with a list of low- or no-cost activities you can do that still get you out of the house and having fun. Because we don’t want to be a bore just because we’re focused on our finances, right?
Take 10 minutes and brainstorm everything you could do for free in your city. Even if it sounds like an absolutely awful idea, write it down – it may spur a fun thought later. And if you need some help, I’ve listed some of my favorites below. But note, you’re depending on the creativity of an accountant…and you know I didn’t get into my profession for my imagination.
1) Take a booze cruise: grab your favorite cocktail and walk through your city (just check your city’s open container laws first!)
2) Go for a hike at a free or low-charge state/national park
3) Host a potluck cookout with your friends at your place (or if you have a projector, an outdoor movie night)
4) Go to events that allow you to bring your own food/alcohol – makes it much cheaper!
SET AN END OF SUMMER GOAL
The problem with some of our big money goals is that they take SO FREAKING LONG to accomplish, and because of this, motivation can seriously wane. And all that means is that taco and tequila fests soon begin to take precedence over paying off debt. No bueno, amigas.
Thus, set a short term goal for you to accomplish by the unofficial end of summer (i.e. Labor Day) that will help you get closer to achieving your long-term goal. Maybe it’s increasing your savings by $250 or finally creating that budget I’ve been hammering you about for years. Whatever the case, re-motivate yourself to hit that mini-goal and get through the rest of these summer months with a focus on achieving that.
NEGOTIATE LIKE A BOSS
I just posted an article from a fellow blogger about how to deal with customer service reps to get what you want, and it has put me in SUPER SAVINGS MODE. It’s amazing what you can score with a simple conversation, and when you consider what a $20 savings on a monthly bill can do for your financial situation, it’s a no brainer. Click the link below to learn more.
Negotiating your expenses down can have a significant impact on your money, but what’s going to take you leaps and bounds ahead of where you are is negotiating your income up. If you’ve been absolutely slaying your job recently and have the evidence to prove it, it’s time to muster up the confidence to ask for a raise. That extra cash not only will help you get back on track with your goals this summer (because you’re going to save a ton of that extra money you earn, right?), it will also be money you can allocate to your goals going forward, too, meaning you’ll hit them sooner. What’s not to love about that?
I love summer just as much as the rest of you, and I want you to get out there and enjoy it….just not at the expense of what you’ve been working so hard on thus far this year. Utilize these tips to help you have fun while getting back on track with your goals, and you’ll find that balance surprisingly satisifying. Like a jalapeno margarita. And if you don’t believe me, just try one ;)
 As a caveat, Southwest does charge a $69 annual fee the first month you have the card. Do I like the fee? Heck no. But in my opinion, the benefits on this deal definitely outweigh the costs.