If you’re like most people, you like to spend some time preparing for summer, whether it’s buying a new swimsuit, planning for a vacation or making sure your grill is ready to start barbecuing.
If you really want to maximize your summer, though, why not spend a little time and prepare your finances for the warmer months as well? After all, summer has different financial demands than winter. By optimizing your finances for summer, you can take advantage of everything the season has to offer.
Give Your Budget a Spring Cleaning
Many people take advantage of warmer weather to give their home a thorough cleaning. You should do the same thing for your budget.
Your first step in reviewing your budget should be to make sure you haven’t overspent in any categories. If you have, look at each category in which you overspent and try to figure out why you spent more than you wanted to, as well as whether or not you think it will happen in the future. If you find yourself constantly overspending in one category, you might want to reduce the amount of one or two of your other budget categories to compensate.
Alternately, if you have money left over at the end of each month, you should think about what you’d like to do with that money. You could put it into savings, use it for an upcoming financial goal or even add it to your entertainment or clothing category to reward yourself for being so good with money.
You’ll also want to make sure all your budget categories are relevant for the summer. You'll probably be able to get rid of some categories, like paying for a snow removal service. You might also want to add new categories, like using the community pool or buying grilling supplies.
It's worth pointing out that First Alliance Credit Union offers a free downloadable budget calculator that can make this process much easier.
Put Aside Money for Vacation
Summer is the time for vacations, and the more money you can save for a vacation beforehand, the less stressful the vacation will be.
While you’re reviewing your budget, you might want to make a category just for your vacation. You can also look for extra money in your budget to devote to your vacation category. If you start early enough, though, you can also take advantage of a club savings account, which has a higher than average interest rate and will deposit the funds into your checking account at a certain date.
Automate Your Bill Payment
Summer is a busy time for everyone, and sometimes things fall through the cracks. Don’t let one of those things be a bill or loan payment. Go to the electronic bill pay service in your online banking platform and automate any recurring bills that have regular amounts.
When you do this, you’ll eliminate the possibility of late payments on these bills. It’s one less thing you have to worry about, and it might even give your credit score a boost.
Look at Your Financial Goals
Summer doesn’t have to be busy all the time, though. It’s also a great time for relaxing, whether it be on the beach, in a hammock or just sitting in a chair enjoying the weather.
While you’re relaxing, take some time to think about all your financial goals. Consider which ones are coming along well, which ones could use a bit more love and if there are any new financial goals you’d like to add.
When you have your list of goals set in your mind, take the time to make them S.M.A.R.T.—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound. This will increase the likelihood that you achieve them. You can use the First Alliance Credit Union S.M.A.R.T. financial goal worksheet to make the process easier.
Read a Book
Summer is also known for summer reading. You can get in on the trend and read up on how to improve your finances. There are a lot of books out there that have some excellent financial advice, but you can also get a lot of great advice online about how to build up your savings, how to create and maintain a budget and even how to build up your credit score.
Have a Great Summer With First Alliance Credit Union
Summer is a great time to travel, have fun and just relax. When you optimize your finances for summer, though, you not only maximize your fun, you also set yourself up for financial success.
You can also get help optimizing your finances for summer when you become a member of First Alliance Credit Union today. In addition to automating your payments using our electronic bill pay service on our online banking platform and mobile app, you can also take advantage of the guides in our resource center. You can even set up a club savings account for big events like your next vacation.