It seems like every season has temptations that can derail your budget. Summertime travel in particular can be a budget-breaker. With summer coming to an end, now is a good time to reassess your financial situation. Did you go overboard on summer spending? Take the following steps to find out and move forward.
1. Get a sense of how you’re tracking against your budget and savings goals.
Compare where you wanted to be with where you are. If you need to adjust your budget, savings plan, or goals, you have to know what you’re working with. Don’t have a budget? It’s a good time to start. For now, take a broad look at how much money you have today versus the beginning of the year. It’s a simple way to check in and see if your spending habits have run amok.
2. Review your recent credit card statements and your credit report.
People tend to use credit cards more often on vacation. In addition, summertime fun can distract you from diligently checking your credit card statements for strange activity. Be sure to review your statements closely and dispute any fraudulent charges.
Remember that you can get one free credit report each year from the three credit-reporting providers (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). These readouts can tell you the bank accounts and credit cards attached to your name and Social Security number. Review the report for any unfamiliar accounts and follow up on anything you don’t recognize.
3. If you went over your budget, get back on track.
If you took on credit card debt, develop a plan to pay it down as aggressively as possible. If you overspent, outline a savings plan to recoup some of that summer splurging. Trim your expenses where you can. For example, do you have a gym membership that you’re not using? Consider cancelling it and working out at home instead. Similarly, is there a less-expensive place you could buy groceries? Think about shopping at a place that offers better deals. Once you’ve reduced your spending, redirect any surplus cash to savings or to pay down debt.
If you still could use some extra cash, you could also pick up a contract or freelance side job. In this “gig economy,” there are a lot of opportunities for both.
4. Help yourself stay on course.
The easiest way to keep your budget intact is to regularly watch how much you’re spending so you can put down your wallet before you overspend. There are a variety of apps that can help you track your spending and compare it to your plan. You can also go the old-fashioned pen and paper route to see how closely you’re following your financial plan.
Another strategy is to regularly check in with a friend or family member about how you’re tracking with your budget. Knowing that you have to share how you’re doing with your budget can help prevent unnecessary spending.
Once you figure out how the summer season impacted your finances, you can make a plan to get back on course if you need to. You can also use this summertime review as a way to start planning for the next round of seasonal spending: the holidays!