The time between when the winter holiday splurging is paid off and when summer spending rushes in to fill the void is roughly 2.6 milliseconds. Ah, but what a joyous 2.6 milliseconds it is! With yard maintenance bills, air conditioning costs and the children home from school, summer can ravage your wallet all over again. Fortunately, multiple summer bills mean there are multiple opportunities to save money.
Grow You Own Food
Growing your own food can really cut down on grocery bills. Seeds only cost $2-3 per packet, and seedlings cost about the same per plant. Considering how many pounds of tomatoes you can get from a single plant versus how many pounds of tomatoes you can buy at the store for $3, both seeds and seedlings are a great deal. If gardening isn't your forte, make friends with green-thumbed neighbors who will give or sell you their excess produce. Farmers markets are also a great alternative, since they are cheaper and carry some of the freshest produce available. (For more on the benefits of frugality, read Save Money The Scottish Way.)
Child Care and Entertainment
To save money at the movies, get a subscription to a movie rental service or go to matinées and refuse the temptation of movie theater snacks. As for amusement parks, hold out for promotional offers, which are frequent in the summer. As in movie theaters, try to avoid all the expensive food once you're in the gates.
Running errands with your kids can also add up. Hiring a sitter and running as many errands as possible at once may actually be less expensive than taking your kids to stores, which are laden with kid-friendly advertising. (To learn more about how to save money this summer, read Sneaky Strategies That Fuel Overspending and Budget-Friendly Summer Fun.)
To cut down on watering bills, water early in the morning or late in the evening rather than in the afternoon. The water you spray on your lawn evaporates much more quickly midday, and in turn, you'll need more water to get the job done.
Also, weigh the pros and cons of doing your own lawn maintenance and landscaping versus hiring someone to do it for you. Depending on how much free time and extra cash you have, it may be more beneficial to hire professionals. Also consider hiring a neighborhood teen. The work might not be perfect, but you'll save money and make an entrepreneurial teenager happy
If you like to entertain or spend time outdoors, chances are you'll want to purchase some patio furniture. Buy your patio furniture late in the season or near major entertaining holidays like Memorial Day and July 4th to get a price break. Buy durable, low-maintenance items because patio furniture is subjected to the elements and tends to fade, crack and break.
For outdoor parties, forget about having food catered or delivered. If you already own a grill, barbecuing is a great way to cut costs. If not, cook the food in your kitchen. To further save money, buy items in bulk at a wholesale store or consider hosting a potluck. You could also use your home-grown produce to make a dish or two. (To learn how to save money at the grocery store, read Five Money-Saving Shopping Tips.)
Consider limiting your AC use to the time of day when you need it most. Some people like to be cooler while they sleep; others may need the air more during the day while doing household chores like cooking and cleaning. When you're doing something that involves sitting still, like watching TV, turn on a fan rather than AC. When you leave the house, turn the AC off. When you have the AC on, close doors to areas like closets and bathrooms that don't have vents and don't need to be cooled. Make sure the air filters in your air conditioning unit are clean – dirty ones will make your system work harder than it needs to, costing you money.
Gas prices tend to go up in summer because of increased demand. Combining errands saves both gas money and time. Also, find the cheapest gas along your normal driving route. Try to choose regular gasoline, not premium, unless your car's manual specifies a higher octane fuel. Driving defensively, following speed limits and avoiding aggressive stops and starts also saves fuel. In addition, look for opportunities to walk, bike, take public transit or carpool. Finally, avoid driving in rush hour as much as possible. All that time spent idling in traffic wastes a lot of gas. Perhaps your employer will let you adjust your schedule so you can avoid traffic. Maybe you can even talk your company into letting you telecommute occasionally. (To learn more, read Getting A Grip On The High Cost Of Gas and Why You Can't Influence Gas Prices.)