Getting a frugal start on summer

Last Friday, I had an amazing realization: It was the weekend, the weather was beautiful, and I had absolutely nothing to do. Great feeling.

On Saturday morning, my boyfriend and I decided to slap some sandwiches together and head to the beach. It was relaxing and low-key, and it made me anticipate summer.

But at the beginning of the year, I made some lofty savings goals for myself, and I'd like to stick to them. So I'm using the change in season to assess my savings and remember those goals. Last year around this time, I spent quite a bit of money on travel. This year, I want to focus on being frugal. Here's how I plan to make frugality a part of my summer.

Purging my apartment

Because I'm an obsessive neat freak, one of my favorite things is letting go of Stuff I no longer need or use. Living among a bunch of junk weighs me down. It clutters my brain. And, especially because I work from home, this can become quite a problem.

So I plan to purge my apartment of Stuff. This includes:

  • Magazines, newspapers and books: I've got stacks of them collecting dust. Of course, there are some books I'll never get rid of. But the ones that have already served their purpose have got to go. I plan to donate them to my local library. Also, there are some great articles in those magazines and newspapers. Any of them that have struck or inspired me, I'll cut out and tape in my notebook.

  • Useless gadgets: Get Rich Slowly writer Lisa Aberle wrote a great post about this. There are plenty of little gadgets and gizmos around my apartment that I use maybe once or twice a year. If I don't need them, or if I can use something else to replace them, they're going to Goodwill.

  • Personal documents: I'll have to be careful with this one. It's important to hold on to your personal documents, but some of them do have expiration dates. I plan to go through mine and see what can be shredded.

Growing herbs and vegetables

My awesome neighbors started a little community herb and tomato garden. I love it! There have been a few times that a recipe calls for dill, and I just leave it out because I'm too cheap to buy dill. Now, there's dill growing right outside my door.

I'm planning to contribute too. I have an abundance of basil. I love the smell and look of the plant, so I bought one for cheap at Trader Joe's last year. It's since grown like crazy. I also have a bunch of grocery-store green onions that I've cut and re-grown. They've been re-growing quickly, and I now have more than I need.

And that's why I'm glad my neighbors started this. If all of us have more than we need, we can share the abundance and save a little cash. Granted, we're not saving hundreds here. But it's a frugal idea and, darn it, I like it.

Preparing for the holidays

Too early? Pssh. To avoid overspending this holiday season, now is the time to start preparing. Here's how I plan to get a head start on my holiday spending:

  • I'm adding a Christmas fund to my budget. I'll start setting a little aside every month until the holidays.

  • I'm paying close attention to conversations with my friends and loved ones. If they mention anything they want or need, I'll write it down. This way, I'm not stumped when the holidays arrive. Holiday stress often leads to overspending.

  • I'm on the lookout for gifts. By preparing my gift-giving now, I'll have time to look out for deals and discounts. This doesn't mean I'm actively shopping. But if I come across a great deal on something I know my mom wants, I'll probably buy it for her. Of course, this could backfire if she buys it herself before Christmas, so I have to be careful.

Maybe you think this one is silly because you're great at not overspending. Good for you! I'm weak. For me, it's way too easy to give in to the temptation of last-minute, overpriced gifts. I'd rather eliminate the temptation to overspend altogether by preparing early.

Saving for next year's vacation

As I mentioned, we went a little travel crazy last year. It was great. But this year, we have to cut back on the spending — mostly because I want to be able to afford a great trip in 2015. So 2014 is dedicated to saving and staying home. We did plan a small trip to Houston-New Orleans to watch my brother graduate and relax a little, but that's about it.

I get the travel itch quite a bit. And in the summer, it's even more tempting to want to scratch that itch. So it's hard not to want to say, “Screw our finances, let's go to New York City!” A couple of things will inspire me to save better this summer:

  • Planning for next year: Planning our next destination and researching it will motivate me to make it happen by saving.

  • Remembering previous trips: We took so many photos of our travels last year, and we haven't even really looked at them. It'll be nice to go through these images and remember how lucky we were to be able to see those parts of the world. Gratitude can be a great motivator.

Overall, I know this is a spoiled problem to have — being challenged to save up for a vacation. But when I was paying off my debt, similar strategies actually helped. I stayed focused by 1) thinking about and planning for my awesome, debt-free future; and 2) remembering all of the things that make me grateful, despite my debt.

Anyway, I'm excited about summer, but I still need to make a conscious effort to stay steady and frugal. What are your spending and saving plans for the summer?

More about...Budgeting, Debt, Frugality, Travel

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Tina in NJ
Tina in NJ
6 years ago

Vacation this year is a church mission to Appalachia, with a smaller local trip. Money isn’t the problem, time is. Son is on college schedule, while daughter is still in local school. My spending this summer is going in my mouth. A couple of root canals and crowns add up fast! Btw, the best time to visit NYC is Christmas. No other city in the world (not even Bethlehem) does it better.

Cookster
Cookster
6 years ago

I did the purge thing last week which made me feel at least 120 pounds lighter! I had a space heater which I had used in my drafty house but have no need of here, enough Christmas decorations for a small city, clothing, decorative items, 2 upholstered chairs, an extra vacuum, camping gear, and enough other stuff to hold a year-long garage sale. Why in the world did I think I ever needed all that? I am concentrating on not using my credit card (I only have one). Instead of shopping which used to be my hobby, I go to… Read more »

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago
Reply to  Cookster

Oh man that grocery store story is adorable. Which store was it? I read that Whole Foods will cut your produce if you only want a portion of it.

Cookster
Cookster
6 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

Fareway, a chain operated by Christians in the Midwest. Love them!

James @ Happy Later
James @ Happy Later
6 years ago

The GYM : Summer means diet and exercise for some people. No need to join a gym! Go for a free job, free pushups and free situps !

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

“Free job”?

Carrie
Carrie
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I’m guessing “free jog”.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Carrie

Ha ha, gotcha! 😀

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago

What are your spending and saving plans for the summer The World Cup starts in 7 days!!! That means little work will happen until it’s over on July 13. Money will be spent on cocktails, snacks, and beer. However–saved major $$ by ducking a 2-year satellite TV contract and watching the games at someone else’s house. More people screaming at the TV is a good thing! There’s some business revamping to be done– web redesigns, setting up e-stores, sending newsletters, etc– but that will happen at a leisurely pace between matches. On the decluttering front, I’m trying to go paperless.… Read more »

Laura
Laura
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Aaaah, World Cup! Thanks for the heads-up; my particular office consists mostly of Europeans and Asians, and this means work will come to a standstill while they cluster around the largest computer monitor they can find at 8 am. 😀

Anne
Anne
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

El Nerdo,

If I’m not being too nosy can I ask what you will be selling in your e-store?

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I would also like to be nosy. What are you planting?

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

@ Laura – Games will generally begin at noon and run until about 8pm in your time zone (East), so at least there can be some work done in the morning, ha ha ha. @ Anne -Mainly art/crafts my wife makes, but we’re debating if we should sell other things like jewelry and products from this region. @ Kristin – the field is getting planted with alfalfa this year, to fix nitrogen–we want to do a chicken permaculture thing next year and I figured the first thing would be to improve the soil and go from there. As for the… Read more »

Becky @ RunFunDone
Becky @ RunFunDone
6 years ago

I’d really like to sell a few things that I don’t use anymore! I sold my motorcycle a few weeks ago, and was excited to put that money towards the principle on my mortgage!

Brian@ Debt Discipline
[email protected] Debt Discipline
6 years ago

We’ll be taking a small family trip somewhere this summer. We haven’t decided as of yet. Sticking within our budget as we continue to focus on dept repayment.

Laura
Laura
6 years ago

Vacation plans for the summer were scrapped when we needed (somewhat unexpectedly) to buy a new car and had to come up with the down payment. I insisted the money set aside for vacation be diverted into the down payment rather than use the EF and still do vacation. What’s interesting is how people react when they ask me my vacation plans and I tell them this – they’re taken aback, startled at the idea of having to choose one or the other (new car down payment, OR vacation rather than both). They’re also surprised when I comment that we… Read more »

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Good for you! Yeah, I can imagine it’s kind of hard to justify the “emergency” part of dipping into an EF when you’ve got a vacation planned. I’m glad you made a good decision for yourself but are still able to have some sort of vacation, even if its a day trip or trip to the beach. Yes! I’ve thought about asking my neighbors if they want to do some kind of community yard sale or something. We don’t have a ton of neighbors around us, that’s the only problem (our complex is kind of tucked away). There’s got to… Read more »

Linda
Linda
6 years ago

You have really motivated me to get busy. I have been spending so much time in the garden and need to spend a little time indoors.
To save I have been using up what is in my freezer. Most of it is gone and except for some
berries for pies. With new produce in the garden I only need milk and bread at the grocery store.
This year I am planting dried beans. White pinto, black beans and red beans and green beans.
Has anyone ever planted these? Has anyone used Zaycon foods? Azure Standard?

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago
Reply to  Linda

I’m jealous of your gardening skills. It’s such a great, productive hobby to have. I wish I had more room to grow stuff. If you don’t mind me asking, how much time do you spend per week gardening? I know JD documented his gardening experiment, and I found it really interesting.

Aldo R @ MDN
Aldo R @ MDN
6 years ago

We’re from NJ and my girlfriend’s brother is getting married in Idaho this July. We’re planning on going to the wedding and then driving to Yellowstone National Park. I’m pretty excited about that… the wedding should be fun too I guess.

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago
Reply to  Aldo R @ MDN

HA HA “the wedding should be fun too I guess.”
That is exciting, though! Yellowstone is on my bucket list.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

We’re planning on a trip to the Bay Area to see my family in October (haven’t been down in 2.5 years). It won’t be much of a vacation for me but my husband can at least see the area where I lived for the first 31 years of my life.

We do need to plan a real vacation (we didn’t even have a honeymoon) so maybe we can plan for something this winter or next spring.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago

Love this post!! I think this blog really influences me because started doing this too. This year is our big trip–a family drive to Yellowstone! (yikes) Next year will be my save year, so we can take a big trip in 2016. One of the things I did was create a shelf near my front door for the little souvenirs from our last big trip. Something nice, but small, to remember the trip, along with a nice photo. On my memo board is a picture that represents our next goal–the 2016 trip. Both together really help stretch out the joy… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago

The cabbage story reminded me a bit of our vacation last year. We have close family friends and were lamenting our budgets. We ended up going in together to rent a cabin for a week near a national park, so the shared cost for our cabin was much lower than a hotel room, and the park was free! And we had a kitchen so we could cook meals and pack lunches.

Stace
Stace
6 years ago

I will both be spending and saving hardcore this summer. We just booked our wedding venue, and will continue booking other vendors over the summer. So all of our future “savings” are basically being re-directed towards the wedding fund. Oh and I will likely be buying a new car. So my bank accounts are going to be crying money, but I’ve known about these upcoming purchases for a long time. I’m (relatively) prepared, as much as I hate to see money leaving my savings account. I am a little sad, because we normally book over the summer to take an… Read more »

Elissa @ 20s Finances
Elissa @ 20s Finances
6 years ago

I’m purging my apartment too! I’m also moving to a new one, which is why I’m purging…but I’m loving the clean up. I was able to sell some lightly used clothing too.

Brenda @SuperMoney
Brenda @SuperMoney
6 years ago

I’ll definitely be making the most of my summer! Something I like to do at the beginning of the summer, when a lot of the sales are on, is stock up for camping season. Marshmallows, chocolate, crackers, hot dogs and other meats, chips (ignore the unhealthiness) and juices… Then I’ll make sure any gear is ready, repaired or replaced, like the old cooler, tent, or sleeping bags we’ve been lugging around for years. I also get plastic totes if needed (the cheap ones that are $5-10) to hold everything. I keep as much of this stuff by the door so… Read more »

Teinegurl
Teinegurl
6 years ago

Hi Kristen!

I know other people suggested this and not sure where your located but why dont you go camping? I’m in hawaii and they even have cabins by the beach. Its pretty simple furnishings but as long as you have food & drinks you could go swimming , surfing all day long. If you dont know how to surf (i don’t ) try rent a stand up surfboard relatively easy to try and good excerise.

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago
Reply to  Teinegurl

Hey Gurl!

Great call. I love camping. And there are plenty of great places to camp in Southern CA. Cheap and fun!

I can only imagine how beautiful it must be camp on the beach in Hawaii. 🙂

LMoot
LMoot
6 years ago

Now that I have all this free time I have been going through my belongings like crazy. Since I moved in with my grandmother last year to rent my house out and save money, I managed to get all of my belongings into one bedroom and a hall closet (okay and there may be some still in the trunk and backseat of my car…I’m a slow unpacker). Anyway, it’s still a bunch of crap I just don’t need and my goal before I leave on my trip in 3 weeks is to downsize even more and get everything I own… Read more »

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