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Smarts Steps for a Savvy Summer

posted Mar 26, 2014, 5:12 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 26, 2014, 6:50 PM by Unknown user ]
Michelle Flanagan

With temperatures finally on the rise, the summer months are not far from students’ minds. Summer brings adventure, and for the seniors it’s the last one before they enter the world of college. With high expectations to make this the best summer yet, it can be easy to blow through your carefully saved money in a matter of weeks. So what are you going to do this summer? Stay home pinching pennies while everyone else is at the beach? Fear not! There are  tons of ways to save your wallet without skimping on the activities, so you’ll have a little more cushion for autumn.

Put Spare Change in a Jar

        Many people have heard the idea of putting loose change from your pockets into a jar and seeing how quickly it adds up. 

Photo courtesy of: stockrockandroll.com (fair use)
Well, this is the same idea but more complex. Every time you break a dollar bill and get coins back, don’t spend those coins, even if you continue shopping. When you return home, pull the loose coins out of your wallet or pockets, and dump them into a jar. Once the jar is full, you can deposit the money into a bank account, or exchange it for bills and use it to go on a summer adventure. You might be surprised by how quickly some spare, pretty pennies can add up.

Wait to Make a Purchase

When you’re out shopping with friends and see a cute shirt, it can be easy to blow $20 impulsively. Before ripping it off the racks, ask yourself, “Do I really need that?” If you wait, even if it’s just until you’ve finished shopping and are about ready to leave, and later reassess that item, oftentimes you’ll realize you don’t need it and you can be proud with the money you saved. If you still want it, then you’ll know it’s not a waste, and you won’t be living with buyer’s guilt after the receipt is in the bag and the money’s out of your wallet.

Going Out or Staying In?

So it’s the weekend, you want to do something, but you spent all your money at the movie theater two weeks ago and your wallet still hasn’t recovered. Not a problem! Invite your friends over for a relaxed night at home. Have everyone chip in for a delivery pizza, or set up your own Cut Throat Kitchen and cook dinner! Stream a movie from Netflix or spend one dollar at Redbox, and you’ve got the night’s entertainment. Staying in can be just as much fun as going out, it just depends on the effort put in to having a good time.

If, however, you’re going out and are worried about stretching that dollar, here’s a few pointers!

Go to the matinee showing. If you can, movies in the mid-to-late afternoon on Sundays are a few dollars cheaper than the usual 9:30 p.m. showing on Friday and Saturdays. Skipping the concession stand will also help you save some cash, and you won’t regret eating an entire popcorn bucket when you’re running laps the next day at practice.

Order water. If everyone is dead set on heading to Cheddar’s after the game, skip the soda and go for water. Restaurants are notorious for making a killing off of drinks, and this cost often slips customers’ minds. By choosing not to order strawberry lemonade or a Diet Coke, you could save upwards of $4 on your bill. While that might not seem like a lot, $4 every time you go out to eat adds up fast!

Photo Courtesy of: littlerosetrove.blogspot.com (fair use)

            Share. Remember how as a kid you were taught to share with your friends? Splitting a meal or dessert is a great way to save money and still be satisfied. Rarely is a plate licked clean at a restaurant; most consumers stare at it, remarking that they “didn’t even make a dent,” and promptly ask the waiter for a box. By splitting a meal, you really only have to pay for what you eat (half of what’s brought out) and you don’t run the risk of forgetting the box on the table as you walk out. And honestly, it never tastes as good the second day!

Take a Day Trip

Everyone wants to travel during the summer, and stretch their freedom as far possible. But running away to Rome costs money, and your passport is outdated, and you have soccer camp, so that plan gets thrown out the window pretty quickly. What you can do, however, is take a small trip somewhere for a day. Plan a trip to Cedar Point for a little change of scenery. While you’ll need gas money to get there (you can save on this by carpooling) and to buy a ticket (Triple A members can often get discounts), saving money by packing a lunch can be more beneficial than you’d think! Either bring a cooler and leave it in the picnic area at the front of the park, or simply leave it in your car for when you get hungry. (Just make sure to get your wrist stamped before you exit, otherwise you’ll have to buy a new ticket to walk back in.) Packing a lunch offers a much wider range of options, especially for those with dietary needs, and it also prevents you from spending $9 on a basket of mediocre chicken strips. Take a tip from your elementary days and brown bag it!

Cut Out the Latte Factor

Most people have one or two vices, things they spend their money on that they know is a waste but “it can’t be that bad.” By cutting out a few frivolous things --or even just cutting down-- a lot of money can be saved. For example, you really don’t need to buy coffee everywhere you go! If you’re looking for that caffeine fix, brew your own and pour it into a thermos to go.

For other people, it’s their phone plan. Constantly checking Twitter and Snapchat can send data usage through the roof, and make for a seriously high phone bill. By decreasing the data plan, and only using apps when you’re able to connect to WiFi or when you truly need them, you’re far less likely to feel robbed every time Verizon sends you a bill.

Set a Percent

Many high school students have jobs, and even more of them are employed during the summer months. When handed a paycheck, many minds flash to the running list of wanted items lying around a bedroom, and all that hard-earned cash can disappear like magic. Setting a percent to go into savings every pay day is a great, easy way to ensure that your hard work will pay off. Determine the amount that you’d be willing to put away (Twenty percent? Fifty?) and stick dutifully to that each time. You’ll still have money to spend on things you want, but your bank account will continue to grow!

Saving money can sound like a daunting task, which is why many people never start. But with easy tips like these, you can save up for college or simply for a “rainy day” fund. It’s never too late to start saving, and it’s never too early to plan!