The summer before college can be a wonderful time to have fun, travel and enjoy yourself. However, it’s also easy to spend too much and stumble into consumer debt. Making good financial choices before heading to college can make an incredible difference. Learn how to plan some affordable summer fun to avoid debt.
Planning Affordable Summer Fun for High School Grads
As with most financial choices, it’s best to start with a budget! That’s what makes things affordable- defining what the cost can be. Everyone’s finances, priorities, and plans are different. However, it will most likely always take some money and time to have a fun adventure. This means you need money to start with and a schedule that will allow you time away. Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about affordable summer fun:
- Are you working? Will you be able to take time off from work for what you are planning?
- Will you use money from graduation gifts? Do you need to save that money for school expenses?
- Are there any friends to join the fun and share expenses?
- Can this trip be downsized to spend less while still being enjoyable?
- Is it completely out of your budget? Do you need to save or choose another time of year to go on the trip?
- Are you thinking about using a credit card to pay for the expenses? Do you have a way to pay back the balance in full the next time your bill is due?
It’s so important to have the actual cash in the bank to pay for any trip or any big expense you might have. Do not head to college with looming credit card debt. Be sure you know how to pay off credit cards fast. You never know when there may be an unexpected emergency or difficulty working to throw off your financial stability. Only use the amount of money you actually have for the trip.
Budgeting for Affordable Summer Fun
Let’s say you save around $500. You have other money for textbooks and everything else. What kind of affordable summer fun can you expect with this type of budget?
- A weekend beach trip.
- A camping and hiking adventure.
- A special trip to a major metro area.
- Shopping! Maybe you just want a new wardrobe and a Treat Yourself day.
- Consider asking friends and family for connections to summer houses or places where you might be able to receive a discount.
How about $1,000? All the above suggestions apply, but you can make the trip more elaborate, longer or fancier. Maybe you want to visit several baseball stadiums around the country on a road trip. You could probably visit a few with this kind of money and friends to share the expenses.
If you have more than $1,500, you might be able to go overseas. Search around for cheap flights and pick your destination from that! Perhaps you have wanted a nice DSLR camera. Spend some cash on a camera and start using it over the summer to have some fun.
You don’t necessarily have to go anywhere to enjoy summer before college. If you don’t want to work but need to pay for car expenses, this could be a way for you to have a relaxing summer without going into debt. On the flip side, if you are dreaming of a big trip to Europe or Asia or even around the National Parks, take your time and save for a few years. Plan on going as a college graduation trip. You will probably have more being a bit older.
Finally, staying on a budget now can have an immensely positive impact on your future financial decisions. You will always need to work hard and make tough choices. Starting now can help you see all the benefits of making good financial steps to help your present-day self and your future self.
Check out ACCC’s College Life & Budgeting Pinterest Board for more tips on college!