By Tim Lemke
If you live in a colder part of the country, you probably can’t wait for this winter to end. The New York City area, for example, has experienced its second-coldest February in history. But before the warmer months hit, it’s important to understand how the change in seasons will impact your finances. While winter brings its own financial burdens, spring and summer can empty your pocketbook, as well.
Here’s how to stay within your budget as the temperatures warm up.
1. Go Green With Transportation
You’ll probably drive more when it gets warmer, and may even take long road trips. You can expect gas prices to rise as demand increases and fuel companies switch from winter to summer fuel blends. Gas prices will remain low by recent standards, but it might help to consider walking or biking to work, or using public transit.
2. Register Early for Summer Camp
Summer can be a challenge for working parents, as the kids are out of school and need someone to look after them during the day.This means that many families explore summer camps and other activities. A week of summer camp will set you back an average of $ 304, according to the American Camp Association, with some for-profit camps costing more than $ 500 weekly. It helps to register in the winter to take advantage of early bird registration deals, and you may get a discount by signing up for multiple weeks at the same location. There may also be discounts for families with multiple children at the same camp.
3. Start Saving for New Family Additions
If you or your partner are not pregnant already, you can probably disregard this one. But statistics show that more children are born during the spring and summer months than other times of the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that August is the top month for new babies. New arrivals aren’t cheap, and you can definitely expect to spend some money in the months leading up to the delivery. Now is the time to start banking as much cash as you can.
4. Travel Within Your Means
With an improving economy, the American Automobile Association expects more people to take trips this summer. According to American Express, an average vacation will set you back $ 1,145 per person, or $ 4,580 for a family of four. The good news is that gas prices are lower than in years past, and a strong dollar means that it’s cheaper to travel overseas.
5. Budget Home Expenses
When it’s cold and snowy outside, there’s no lawn to mow (and you’re probably postponing the construction of that backyard patio until the thaw). Warmer weather is when you whip out the lawnmower and make the call to that contractor. It’s also when you might make any repairs necessitated by the snow, ice, and wind of winter. Various sources suggest that a homeowner will spend about 1% of their home’s value on maintenance each year. Much of this expense will happen during the spring and summer, so be sure to budget accordingly. Consider saving a few bucks here and there by watering your lawn less and attempting landscaping projects yourself.
6. Be Patient With Investments
There’s an old saying that investors should “sell in May and stay away” until October. This is not perfect advice, but there is evidence to suggest that the stock market’s slowest months are in the spring and summer. Since 1950, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has averaged negative returns during the months of May, June, August, and September. It has seen positive returns during all other months.
7. It’s the Thought That Counts for Mom and Dad
Undoubtedly, people spend more money on gifts around Christmas than any other time of year. But the holidays of spring and summer can also add to your expenses. Americans were expected to spend $ 162.94 on Mother’s Day in 2014 and $ 113.80 on Father’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation. If you want to save money on these holidays, consider some thoughtful, but less expensive gift options, such as a great home-cooked meal.
8. Skip the Theater
The summer months are when Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters hit the theaters, and many of us go, even if it’s just to sit in an air conditioned environment for a while. Six of last year’s top grossing movies at the box office were released during the spring and summer. Going to the movies is not cheap; the average cost of a movie ticket is $ 8.17, and many recent top films have extra charges for 3D or IMAX screenings. Want to save a few bucks? Get a Netflix account or go to RedBox and watch movies at home.
9. Don’t Buy a Car
Generally speaking, the best time to buy a car is the end of the year when sellers are looking to meet their sales quotas. And you might get some good prices on older models in the fall when new models come in. Though you won’t see as many deep discounts in the summer, you can still do okay at the end of months or quarters.
10. Take Advantage of the Real Estate Market
No one wants to move in the winter time, so there’s more competition for homes during warmer months. This places upward pressure on home prices. In 2014, the median price for homes sold in the U.S. between May and August was about $ 220,000, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s about $ 20,000 more than the median price of other months. On the positive side, this is good news if you are selling your home, and buyers are more likely to see a larger selection of homes for sale.