Summer credit card debt can come out of nowhere. One minute you’re taking a weekend trip to the beach, the next you can’t pay off your credit card. Here are some tips to avoid getting into a hot mess of consumer debt.
Escape Summer Credit Card Debt
Summertime seems to be filled with endless possibilities of fun- including travel, food, and for some, a new summer wardrobe full of sundresses. While everyone should enjoy the summer, especially those of us leaving winter weather behind, there is a responsible way to do it.
Prioritize Financial Goals This Summer
First, you should take some time to examine your personal finances. What are your goals for the summer? Do you need to start saving more, or maybe its avoiding bankruptcy and credit card debt. If you have multiple goals that you want to accomplish, a priority list is a good next step. Eliminating high interest debt should come before saving for retirement. Building up an emergency fund (let’s say a $1,000 for quick hits to the budget) should probably come before taking a lavish vacation.
Once you have identified your goals, make sure you have a working budget in place. You won’t be able to do more work on this until your budget is ready. Then, chart out the details so you have SMART goals- Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
Ways to Avoid Summer Credit Card Debt
At this point you need some practical ways to avoid summer credit card debt. Depending on your income, expenses and financial goals, you may not need to change as much of your summer fun as a person facing serious personal credit card debt.
Here is a list of tips, ideas and alternatives to an expensive summer.
- Check for free local or regional events- festivals, fairs, outdoor concerts, etc…
- Use Groupon and other apps for discounts.
- Make the backyard an entertainment space for camping and movies for the family rather than going out.
- Buy summer clothes at the thrift store alongside of your wardrobe from last year.
- Pack snacks and water when venturing out, especially if you have many mouths to feed.
- Cut back your vacation by a day or two to save money, or change the days when you leave to avoid peak prices.
- Utilize hiking and nature for your entertainment.
- Cancel your gym membership for the next several months and go outside.
- Open up the windows at home and in the car instead of cranking the AC.
- Make your own ice cream rather than going out or buying from the grocery store.
- Get a seasonal job to bring in extra money.
- Avoid the stores or places that tempt you most (Target, anyone?).
- Turn down a few wedding invites.
- Shop farmer’s markets for cheap produce.
The main idea of this financial counseling is to reduce spending and redirect the money towards your financial goals. Even though it may be tough, you will be happy in the end when you have achieved your goals.