After a moody winter, most Canadians will agree that summer is the best time of the year. What’s not to love about great weather, patios, and travel plans? If there’s one thing to complain about, it’s the cost. With all of these events going on, we naturally spend more compared to other seasons.
There’s nothing wrong with spending more money if you’ve planned and saved for it. But if you don’t keep yourself honest, you can quickly blow your budget. To help keep your spending under control, here are five tips to help manage your money this summer:
Define your priorities
Think about what matters most to you, whether it’s travelling, eating out at new restaurants, going to music festivals, upgrading to a new phone, or saving. Pick your favourite things and make them a priority by setting more money aside for those activities.
That said, you’ll also need to factor in events such as weddings or family reunions which may cost money in the way of car rentals or gas, accommodations, and gifts. Take a look at what you have coming up this summer, and don’t be afraid to say no to certain social events if it’s going to cost you too much money to take part.
Make a budget
With your priorities in mind, you can create a budget. First, track your spending using Mint or You Need a Budget, or even an Excel spreadsheet, so you can see exactly where your money is going. Of course, your rent/mortgage and bills should be paid first, but after that you can determine how much you can afford to spend on fun stuff.
Now that you know what you’re spending your money on, you can come up with an accurate budget. Remember, things like vacations tend to come up once a year, but you still want to put away money towards it months so you’ll have the cash ready when you’re ready to book.
Separate your savings with multiple bank accounts
Take your budget a step further by setting up different bank accounts for your specific savings goals so you can easily track your balances and progress (you can keep track of everything in one place with your chosen budgeting app). Compare the best chequing accounts and the best savings accounts based on your needs. Look for ones with unlimited transactions and low or no monthly fees. Set up automatic monthly transfers from your main chequing account so you’ll always have money saved. If one of those accounts gets low, it means you need to cut back on spending until you rebuild your funds.
Take advantage of free events
Summer is primetime for free festivals, concerts, and events, so take the time to seek them out via local newspapers, radio, and online and plan for the coming months. There’s lots going on across the country for Canada’s 150th birthday, including free admission to all national parks.
It’s also worth looking into any local attractions to see if they offer free or discounted admission on certain days. Alternatively, there are always free things to do such as going to the beach, hiking, or going for a bike ride.
Use a cash-back credit card
We all spend money year round, so why not maximize your rewards by using a cash-back credit card? The best cash-back credit cards refund a small percentage of every dollar spent on the card, usually applied as a credit to your statement once a year (the particulars depend on the card).
- No annual fee
- Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants for the first 6 months (up to $250)
- Earn 1.25% cash back on all other purchases once welcome rate ends
- No limit on the amount of cash back you can earn
The SimplyCash Card from American Express is ideal for those looking for a card with no annual fee. For the first six months, you’ll earn 5% cash back on groceries, gas, and restaurant purchases (up to $250). After that, you’ll earn 1.25% cash back on all purchases with no limit on how much you can earn.
- Annual fee: $99
- Earn 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% cash back on drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Receive VISA Infinite benefits
Now, if you’re a power spender, you’ll want to take a look at the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite. This card gives you 4% cash back on gas and groceries, 2% cash back on pharmacy purchases and recurring bills, and 1% cash back on everything else. For new accounts opened by July 31, 2017, the annual $99 fee is waived for the first year. Another appealing aspect of this card is the included insurance, which covers travel and car rental collision.