Summertime brings warm weather — and a major temptation to spend money. From hitting the concert circuit to shopping for new clothes to taking a dream group vacation, the opportunities to spend money are endless.
Blowing through your cash may be fun but it can also put a major dent in your bank account.
The good news is: You don’t have to shut down your social calendar when the lazy days of summer set in. By following these five tips, you can keep the summer FOMO at bay – and potentially boost your savings by fall.
1. Unplug from social media
Imposing a ban on checking your social feeds can be one of your best defenses against FOMO spending.
“It’s very easy to feel like you’re missing out when scrolling through countless summer posts showing your friends enjoying themselves,” says Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Home Loans.
He says the pressure to spend only gets worse if you’re receiving invites to go out via social. The solution? Take a time out from Insta, Facebook and all the rest. If you can’t do that, be ready to make a frugal counter-offer if a friend suggests some pricey fun.
“If someone is posting about wanting to go to a particularly swanky place for happy hour, you could propose an alternate location that’s still trendy but also affordable,” says Edstrom.
Or even better, suggest a BYOB get-together at home. You could even make it a regular thing, with a different member of your circle playing host each week.
And, let your friends know from the start that you’re trying to curb your spending for summer and step up your savings. That way, if you have to say no to an outing, they’ll understand why.
2. Set up a “just for summer” savings fund
The next best thing you can do to avoid summer FOMO is to be prepared for it. That means having a special savings account just for summer fun, says Rebecca Gramuglia, personal finance expert at cash back site TopCashback.com.
“Summertime means longer days and more time for activities and sometimes those summer adventures come with a price-tag, which is why starting a summer fund is so important,” Gramuglia says.
The simplest way to create a summer fund? Set up a direct deposit from your paycheck into a separate savings account each payday. Pick a target amount you want to budget for your summer spending each month, then break that down by the number of paychecks you receive monthly. Commit to having that amount sent straight to savings, then transfer it to your checking to use as activities with friends come up.
Gramuglia says that ideally, if you start building this fund a few months before summer kicks off, you’ll have a cushion ready to go. But if you’re getting a late start, take advantage of small windfalls to build it up.
“Any time you have leftover change, bonuses or (get) cash back, add it into your summer fund,” she says.
3. Don’t spend without looking for deals and discounts first
With so many coupon apps, deal sites and money-saving apps to choose from, there’s no reason to pay full price for summer spending, whether it involves travel, dining, shopping or entertainment.
If you’re planning a trip with friends, for example, try doing it backwards, says Meghan Fox, a money-saving expert at gift card marketplace Raise.
“Find the best deals on sites like Kayak, Travelocity and Expedia, then pick a destination where you’ll get more bang for your buck.”
Sites like Skyscanner and Hopper are also good for comparing prices on airfare. Purchasing discounted gift cards is another option for saving on flights, hotels and other purchases. At Raise, for instance, you can find discounted gift cards from Hotels.com, Airbnb and Southwest Airlines.
For summer spending other than travel, visit deal and coupon sites like Groupon, LivingSocial or RetailMeNot to see what’s on tap for promo codes and coupons. You can find discounts on spa packages, restaurants, and movie tickets.
4. Plan some solo activities
If you’re worried that hanging out with friends over the summer will push your budget to the limit, schedule in some alone time. Then, fill that time with things that don’t cost a dime.
That’s something Julia Askin, a marketing coordinator with mobile app development firm Fueled does. After moving to New York City six months ago, she’s feeling the pressure on her budget to “do it all”.
“To combat FOMO and protect my budget, I commit much less to social engagements and focus instead on growing my areas of interest and passion,” Askin says.
In the summer months, this includes spending time outdoors and taking free online classes to learn new skills, both of which leave her bank account intact.
If you’re looking for free or low-cost things to do, check your local recreation center. Or, head to your library or a museum for an afternoon. Volunteer your time for a good cause. Challenge yourself to come up with as many free ideas as you can. To make it really interesting, consider doing a no-spend week over the summer to see how much you can save.
5. Create money goals to keep you motivated
It’s tough not spending money, especially if you feel a little left out of the fun. Giving yourself some clear goals can help you maintain a positive mindset.
For example, your goals might include:
- Paying an extra $2,000 off your student loans by the end of August
- Saving $1,500 in a baby emergency fund in a month
- Starting your savings cushion for a down payment on a first home
- Finally getting around to opening up an IRA to save for retirement
Your goals can be big or small, but make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Any time your friends are tempting you to spend, remind yourself of your goals. This could be all you need to dodge the FOMO bullet.
Summer FOMO doesn’t have to wreck your budget
The fear of missing out on fun with friends can only sabotage your spending if you let it. Planning ahead and setting some ground rules for spending over the summer can make it easier to avoid giving into temptation.
As a bonus, you may end up with a padded savings account!