Planning Your Summer Budget in 5 Steps

All too often, I will budget for summer as if there is nothing out of the ordinary going on. Sure, there are special events with any season, but is summer really that different? Unless I’m taking a special vacation or buying tickets to a certain event, I feel like I should budget as normal, but the truth is, summer is not your regular budget.

Between summer BBQs, weddings, trips to the beach, and possible vacations — your schedule and spending shifts dramatically this time of year. And while that may be a welcome relief from your day-to-day life, it can become a serious strain on your budget if you don’t plan in advance.

Here are five common summer activities you need to plan into your summer budget, so no expense catches you by surprise.

1. Weddings

Summer weddings are bound to pop up (you’ve probably already received an invitation) and they take a bit of advance planning in the budget. Between traveling, buying a wedding present, getting a new dress or suit, and attending any other possible trips (like bachelor/bachelorette weekends and bridal showers), wedding are a huge expense for both the couple getting married and guests alike. Make sure you’re ready for wedding season by saving some extra cash to celebrate with your loved ones. Download an app like Digit to make saving automatic and painless.

2. Long weekend adventures

Even if you don’t have a major summer vacation planned, you need to account for summer’s unexpected escapades. Add a special “adventure budget” onto your summer plan to account for long weekend events, impromptu camping trips, or even basic picnics at the beach to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the fun.

3. Summer gear

Does your bathing suit from last year still fit? Do you have a beach bag that will hold all your necessities? Is there anything (like a cooler, hiking boots, or chic new sunglasses) that would make this summer better than the rest? Make sure you add to your budget to accommodate all the extra gear that accompanies your summer excursions, so you are ready for anything without the unexpected costs.

4. Cookouts

While summer may seem like the perfect time to cut back on your grocery budget because of cheaper produce, the truth is, summer food spending can catch you off guard if you aren’t careful. Potluck BBQs abound during the summer months, so make sure you have an easy (and low budget) go-to dish you can commit to, so you can save your cash for more important summer events. Some of my faves are mini corn dog bites (I sometimes use boxed cornbread mix to make it even easier), a paleo-friendly potato salad, or a Greek orzo pasta salad.

5. Summer entertainment

There is nothing like a summer day spent at the baseball field or an evening at an outdoor concert in the park. Entertainment opportunities are plentiful during the summer months and definitely something you don’t want to miss out on because you didn’t plan them into your budget. Even “free” events often come with pricey beer and food vendors, so make sure you have some cash on hand for all the street festivals and fairs you want to enjoy.