Author: Lauren Hurley
Summer is here and for many, that means it’s time to lose extra body fat! As you shed those extra pounds, it’s worthwhile to start cutting your financial fat too. For most people, extra spending increases during the summer months. We want to go out with friends, have fun and do what’s easy. These things are great, but if you go too far, you may find yourself falling short of your savings goals, or even worse, running out of money. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent this from happening and get ahead of your spending.
Why it’s important
Managing your summer budget is especially important as a college student. Many of us don’t have as much time to work once the school year begins, resulting in living off whatever we saved up over the summer. For some, this is not an issue with scholarships to cover room and board, but if you’re not so lucky, this article is for you.
Depending on the person, summer spending can look very different, but here are some of the most common items that you can consider to cut a few financial pounds. One of the easiest habits to fall into is eating or ordering out. This is nice when you’re in a pinch, but getting into the habit of ordering food every other night because you’re tired will add up in more ways than one. Not only are you paying for the food itself, but if you want a drink that’s two dollars. If you have to leave a tip, that’s anywhere from two to six dollars and if you get it delivered, that’s another five dollars. By the time you get your twelve dollar meal, you’re paying almost twice that for one dinner, not including appetizers and additional sides or the two dollar guac.
Preparation is key
All this being said, if you know you have a busy week ahead, grocery shop and meal prep on the weekends. This small investment of time and money at the beginning of your week will save you both of those and the hassle during the week. It takes less time to heat up your already prepared chicken, veggies and rice in the microwave than it does to drive over to a fast food restaurant, order and drive home, not to mention it is far healthier.
Eating in the comfort of my own home, plus savings? Sign me up for this financial weight loss program! This brings us to our next point. If you are going to go out, (which is okay to do from time to time) make sure you’re thinking about the little add-ons that will increase your bill. Water is usually free and much healthier than soda or lemonade. Plan a budget and consider looking at the menu ahead of time so you won’t be tempted by spur of the moment purchases.
Become comfortable with the uncomfortable
Any life changes can feel uncomfortable as you get adjusted, but the good news is that cutting down your food budget in doesn’t have to feel like a sad new diet. There’s lots of ways to have food fun in the summer months and take advantage of the sun. For starters, summer is prime grilling time! Many apartment complexes have one you can use if you don’t have your own. This is a fun way to get your protein in without breaking the bank ordering out. Not to mention, the sun doesn’t go down until after nine p.m., making these months perfect for trying new recipes and stretching out your evening.
Food is one of the highest monthly expenses after paying your mortgage or rent. Whether it’s enjoying your paycheck out with friends or splurging on fast food, summers can add up quickly. It’s a great time to enjoy the sunshine, but don’t get so caught up in the moment that you let your money get away from you. Great ways to stay on top are to make a food budget and stick to it! The important thing is to start small. If you’re an avid fast food eater, start by cooking two meals at home a week. If you’re a social spender, consider cutting out little things like drinks and appetizers. Whatever it is, wherever you’re at, there’s always room for improvement. The important thing to remember is that it’s okay to have a financial cheat meal every once in a while as long as it doesn’t take away from your main priorities and goals.