Summer is almost here! Ball games and beach umbrellas. Swimming pools and day trips. Family gatherings and cookouts. And—my boys’ favorite—no homework!
Many of us look forward to this time of year and the slower pace it brings. But if we’re not careful, the season can catch us off guard when it comes to expenses. Yes, there’s vacation and the higher cooling bills, but there are also some forgotten costs—those things we overlook until we have to pay for them. In no time, they can derail our budget and our financial health.
Watch out for these six seasonal expenses so you’re not surprised this summer:
1. Food Costs
With Junior home all day, you can bet you’ll be paying more for groceries—especially if his friends come over for a video game binge. Your refrigerator will clear out faster than you can say “growth spurt.” Here’s a quick tip: If you stick to healthy snacks, the food will stick around longer!
2. Camp Extras
Hopefully, you’ve set money aside for the week-long overnight camp your child is going to in July. Unfortunately, you’re not done spending just yet. Don’t forget all the extras they’ll need: bug spray, sunscreen, late-night snacks, a rain poncho, a water bottle and shower shoes for starters.
3. Lawn Care
April showers may bring May flowers, but the spring and summer seasons also bring out the grass and weeds. If you pay someone to take care of your yard, see if their prices have gone up this year. That way you won’t be surprised when you get the first bill. If you mow the lawn yourself, don’t forget about things like oil and spark plugs.
4. Vacation Extras
You’ve done your homework and saved enough money for that vacation you’ve been planning, but don’t forget the small extras. Costs like tollbooths, parking, tips, and locker rentals (think amusement or water park) can add up quickly. Avoid paying for additional drivers on rental cars by going with companies that don’t charge that fee. You may have gotten a deal with another company, but if they charge $20 a day so your spouse can drive, your “deal” isn’t so great.
5. Outdoor Activities
The summer months mean more outside outings. Canoe trips, pool days, outdoor concerts, and other activities can drain your bank account. Costs for these might have gone up for 2016, so don’t get caught unaware. Bringing snacks and drinks with you can cut down what you spend significantly.
6. After-Camp Care
If you and your spouse both work outside of the home, you’re not alone. And that can be challenging during the summer when the kids are not in school. As a solution, lots of parents enroll their kids in day camps. There can be a snag in that option, though. What if day camp ends before quitting time? The answer is after-camp care. Most day camps offer it, but it will cost you extra. If you’re not prepared for the higher fees, your budget could take a big hit.
Don’t ever go into debt for summer expenses. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it or find other options. Ask for scholarship assistance for camps. Tell Junior he’ll have to find money for that tech camp that everybody else is going to. Ask family members to help with childcare.
When you go into debt to pay summer expenses, you’re robbing from your retirement, and that’s not a good option. Your kids may enjoy a week away from home, but your future financial security is more important than summer camp.