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Your budget can run amok
by Helen Edelman August 10, 2016

Your budget can run amok in the summer. “In the dead of winter, it’s easy to hunker down and watch Netflix with a hardy homemade stew,” says Kendal Perez, a consumer expert with CouponSherpa.com. “In the summer, however, we want to be outside and the desire to live life to its fullest seems more acute.” It’s not just our desire for a patio dinner, outdoor fairs and musical festivals -- there are other drains, like what to do with kids who are home from school for weeks on end - movies, camp, theme parks, ice cream outings – they all add up. Then there’s vacation and travel during peak time, when hotels, airlines and car rental companies charge higher rates. It’s also high season for weddings, graduations and baby showers, starting in May and running through August, which means gifts and travel. What to do?

• Research free or cheap activities. Most communities offer some for kids and families during the summer, including educational opportunities, parades, concerts and festivals. Check local libraries, parks and the chamber of commerce for info.
• Use coupons and other savings strategies. Look for happy hour prices and use coupon apps and daily deal sites to find discounts. Credit card loyalty programs may help.

• Shop for bargains. Memorial Day, Fourth of July, back-to-school and Labor Day promotions fall within the summer timeframe, and that means bargains on everything from warm-weather apparel to laptops to appliances.

• Watch your vacation budget. Stock up on snacks, breakfast foods and water from a local grocery store to avoid overspending on dining. Research what the locals do for free and discover fun, cheap community events at your destination, as well as lower-price eateries.

• Plan ahead. Create a summer savings fund as soon as summer ends. Every month, set aside something.

• Incorporate your credit cards’ rewards by using the points from paying for groceries, gas and other regular spending – but remember to pay off the balance each month, so the cards don’t become another drag on your finances in the long run.

You might find new freedom in free fun. -- Helen Susan Edelman, LiveSmart Project Director, livesmart@classroomenrichment.org; www.facebook.com/crlivesmart

Times Union - Edited and written by Helen Edelman

LiveSmart supports the Classroom Enrichment Fund at the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region and is made possible by donations from St. Peter’s Health Partners and Price Chopper, with promotional services provided by the Times Union and WNYT/NewsChannel 13. LiveSmart is compiled by Helen Susan Edelman, Project Director. This project ensures 70,000 students and teachers in the Capital Region have equal access to news content during the school year.