5 ways to savor the summer holidays without breaking the bank

Jennifer Streaks, Contributor
Steve Shepard | iStock / 360 | Getty Images

Everyone loves a holiday weekend and with several each summer — Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day — it’s all too easy to get caught up in the excitement and, over a three-to-four day period, blow through your budget. If you are taking a vacation, it's even easier to overspend.

Here are some ways to handle your money during the vacation and holiday season so you can savor the summer without breaking the bank.

Plan ahead

The worst thing you can do is get to the holiday and have nothing planned. This will lead to wanting to find something, anything, to do, and to spending money on the fly — which is a great way to part with a lot more money than you intended to. Have ideas for a few affordable or even free activities to participate in so you don't have to improvise.

Preparation will help when it comes to vacations, too, since this is the time of year when the price of everything goes up: for hotels, airfare, even gas. “Americans are spending nearly 60 cents more per gallon of gasoline than this same time last year, but that’s not deterring travelers from packing up their cars for road trips,” says Julie Hall of Triple AAA public relations.

Try to take advantage of all-inclusive packages and, if flying, purchase airline tickets as early as you can. (Planning to book a cruise next winter in advance of next summer is also smart.)

If you are driving, obey traffic laws. On these weekends, cops are ready and willing to give out citations, nothing blows the budget like a $250-$300 ticket. So seat belts on, and don’t go over the speed limit.

Set a budget

Be sure to set a budget for what you are going to spend each weekend, and remember that even a holiday weekend does not give you license to over-indulge. Once you have decided on an amount that you are comfortable with, stick to it. Put yourself on a cash diet if you think that might help.

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Stay in

You don't have to go outside to enjoy the summer. Throw a party, even a small one: Invite friends over for a potluck, steaks on the grill, or a BYOB evening. Everyone brings something, has a great time and none of you has had to spend $14 for a cocktail.

Or enjoy a staycation: Borrow some books from the library, binge-watch a show on Netflix you've meant to catch up on, order some ribs and appreciate the air conditioning. Summer is a good time to rest and recharge.

Go out

Summer's also a good time to join or go to the gym: It's the off-season, so it will be less crowded with most people out of town. That will be good for you as well as your wallet.

There are lots of free ways to enjoy the outdoors, too. Bike in the woods. Hike or camp in the mountains. Go swimming. Hit up a National Park. Take yourself to the beach or even the shade of your local park and you can have a great time without running up a bill.

Avoid FOMO

Stay off social media so you can focus on your own goals and not someone else's good time. Remember, you do not have to go out or do something each day. People spend money over the holidays as if hot weather means money rules no longer apply. But reality for you and your bank account is just around the corner.

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