Summer is the season for trips, barbecues, and outdoor fun of all sorts. It’s also the time when we spend a lot of money making those magical moments happen. Here are some savings tips that can help you make the most of your budget, while getting the most out of your summer!
Create a Budget
Saving throughout the year is important for your financial wellness. Summer can be especially challenging for your finances because the weather and no school creates more opportunities to travel, shop and explore. By creating a budget specifically for the summer, you can do the things you want within a spending plan.
One approach to money management which gives you extra breathing room for summer fun is the 50/30/20 method. This plan divides up your income so that you dedicate 50 percent to essentials, 30 percent for discretionary spending, and 20 percent on savings and paying down debt, according to CreditKarma.com. Be sure to track your spending to identify where your money goes. You may discover ways to rebalance your budget that save you money.
Use Your Credit Union’s Financial Tools
Along with a budget, be sure you’re using the right products and services that can help you save money. The best way to save is to place your dollars directly into a savings account that’s separate from your everyday spending account. For example, Travis Credit Union has a Target Savings account that’s perfect for your savings goal, whether that goal is a summer vacation or a major life event like a wedding.
To build your savings even faster, set up automatic transfers from another account. This allows you to save regularly without any manual or in-branch transfers. Even better, set up a portion of your direct deposit to land directly into this account and watch your savings grow with each payday.
With TCU’s Target Savings, you can have multiple savings accounts for different goals, such as home repairs, vacation, and a down payment on a car. There are no hidden fees or minimum balance requirements with this account, and you can access your money whenever you need it.
Another financial tool typically available to credit union members is an online savings calculator, which can show you how much your savings could grow over time. TCU offers a variety of savings calculators to help you visualize your goals.
Plan Affordable Summer Activities
When creating your budget, plan affordable activities for the summer. Consider the costs of any trips you have planned throughout the year. By including summer travel in your annual budget, you can better avoid vacation or travel debt. Research your travel destination first to determine the best time to visit and the more affordable places to stay, according to BusinessInsider.com. If your desired destination is still stretching the budget, consider an alternative location that is less expensive.
Leverage CU Credit Cards for Rewards and Discounts
Along with saving better and planning better, your credit union can help you spend better with credit card rewards points and offers. For example, TCU’s Platinum Visa allows you to earn points for every dollar you spend, which you can then redeem for cash back, travel, merchandise, charitable donations and more.
Also, watch for offers from your credit union that let you earn or save money. These offers may be to double the reward points you earn during a certain period, waive the balance transfer fee when you transfer other debt to your credit union’s credit card or receive a cash bonus for meeting direct deposit requirements. Credit unions are in the business of providing you value, so explore yours for any opportunities.
We can’t forget about the heat. Summer means you will use more energy to cool your home so be prepared for it. Some credit unions offer energy-efficient loans to help cope with rising utility bills. For example, TCU offers an Eco-Friendly Loan that can be used to make energy-efficient home improvements, including a new Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, new windows, and other energy-efficient upgrades.
Some tips to help save on energy costs include using ceiling fans instead of the air conditioner, which can save you about $45 a year. Also, you can wash your clothes with cold water to reduce the energy required to heat the water up. Another tip is to weatherproof your home by sealing any air leaks, work that could save you about $210 a year, says PG&E.
Stay Financially Responsible
While using your credit union credit card to leverage rewards and other offers is a good thing, be mindful not to build up debt to a point where you are struggling to meet the monthly payments. The goal is to be able to pay off your credit card balance each month to avoid interest charges. If you decide to maintain a balance, be sure it is under 30% of your credit limit. This will allow you to build and maintain a higher credit score.
How TCU Can Help
As you can see, credit unions offer a variety of ways that they can help with your financial wellness. From products that help you save money and credit cards with rewards to energy-efficient project loans, your local credit union is a great resource if you want to save money this summer.
At Travis Credit Union, we offer so much more. From free on-demand webinars on a variety of money-related topics to financial scholarships for our college-bound members, explore how we can help you at traviscu.org.
Have a great summer!