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Summer Fun on a Budget

June 21, 2012

By: Jim Oosterman
Melrose Bank

Summer vacations don't always have to be elaborate and costly. Some of the best memories are sometimes created by the simplest things. Take this summer to learn how to budget without sacrificing any of that summertime fun by taking control of your activities and spending habits.

Recognizing everyday spending habits that add up in the long run is the first step to creating a budget that will allow you to save money and enjoy your summer too. If you make some small changes, you will see big rewards down the line. A few simple yet effective ways to cut back and save money include:

  • Decrease Air Conditioning Use. In the typical home, air conditioners use more electricity than anything else. In warmer regions of the country your AC can consume 60-70% of your electric bill. You can cut costs by installing ceiling fans throughout the house to circulate the airflow and maximize the cool air that the AC is producing. If you need a little noise to fall asleep to, check if your AC has a sleep setting, allowing you to fall asleep with the comfort of the AC yet lowering your electric bill by it shutting off after a certain set time. Also, be sure to regularly change and clean your AC filters. Thus maximizes efficiency and prevents costly repairs.
  • Wasteful Spending on Poor Habits. The habits of drinking soda, eating fast-food and smoking tobacco can be harmful to both you and your wallet. Although stopping altogether may be ideal, start by cutting back. Pack a lunch for work. Purchase healthy foods that are grown from local farms and you'll notice more green in both your wallet and your diet.
  • Keep The Change. Dedicate a jar to collect all of your loose change because every penny counts. Place it in a secure spot in your home that will be visible enough to act as a reminder to continue collecting that change. You can have more than one jar devoted for special occasions such as; golf-outings, beach trips, trips to the city, or a jar dedicated towards the future, like your son or daughter's college fund. You will be amazed at how much money you actually save after cashing in your coins for dollars for the first time.

Now that you have some tips on how to budget some of your everyday activities, it's time to start planning on how to have fun while saving. There are a lot of fun summer activities that are affordable and family oriented such as:

  • Sporting Events. There are multiple and various ways to purchase tickets cheaply. Purchase tickets through other consumers, or websites at lower costs. Sites like EBay, Craigslist, Stubhub, and Razor Gator offer tickets at a much lower price. Have lunch or dinner before you go and limit purchases to a drink and a snack.
  • Go Local. Local beaches and mountains can provide both the beauty and entertainment you are looking for at a very affordable cost, most often times for free. There are plenty of amazing nearby opportunities to explore and take advantage of such as local events and fundraisers. Volunteering is another great way to enjoy unforgettable experiences while making a difference in someone's life. Invite family and friends in helping the community by cleaning up local parks or painting town buildings that could use a fresh coat.
  • Outside, Health and Fitness. The outdoors holds endless opportunities for families looking to have fun without breaking their budget. A simple cookout with family and friends can bring just as much enjoyment as a 5 star restaurant at a fraction of the cost. You can also build a fire pit and enjoy a nice camp fire, a perfect time to share stories and make tasty s'mores. Plan family bike rides around local parks, lakes and neighborhoods. If you're willing to get dirty, plant a garden with the family and enjoy watching the fruits of your labor grow. Take pleasure in what Mother Nature has to offer with the comfort of knowing the small price you are actually paying.

There are plenty of ways to save and budget; it's finding which way works the best for you that is the tough part. These tips will help you enjoy your summer without forcing you to break the bank. In the end, what really matters is spending time with family and friends, not where you've gone or the number of items you possess.

James Oosterman is the Vice President of Melrose Bank. He can be reached by telephone 781-665-2500, online at or on Facebook at

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