indicatorAlberta Lifestyle

Take charge of your summer spending

Vacations, nights out and kid’s activities can put pressure on your summer budget.

By ATB Financial 24 May 2024 3 min read

Summer is a season of long days, warm nights, and countless opportunities for fun and relaxation. However, it can also be a time of increased spending if not managed carefully. Here are five tips to help you take charge of your summer spending.


1. Create a Summer Budget and Stick to It

A clear budget is the cornerstone of responsible spending. Start by listing all your fixed expenditures, things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, loans and groceries. Then take a look at your anticipated summer expenses, such as vacations, outdoor activities, festivals, kids camps. Once you have a comprehensive list, allocate a specific amount to each category based on your overall financial situation. While many costs have increased since last summer, using your summer expenses from last year as a base can help you to get a solid ballpark number for costs for this summer.

Utilize budgeting tools and apps available on your smartphone or tablet to make tracking your expenses easier. Regularly updating your budget will help you stay on track and adjust as needed. Understanding your cash flow (the money coming in and going out) will enable you to make informed decisions about where to cut back or where you can afford to spend a little extra.


2. Plan Your Summer Activities in Advance

Planning ahead can save you both time and money. Research and book your vacations, events, and activities well in advance to take advantage of early-bird discounts and special offers. Many popular summer destinations like Banff and Jasper, offer reduced rates for early bookings. This can also give you a good idea of what is left in your summer budget while spreading out expenses outside of the summer months. 

Additionally, consider setting up a dedicated summer fund. By saving a little each month throughout the year, you can create a financial cushion that will cover your summer expenses without dipping into your regular budget. Setting up an automatic transfer to a savings account can make this process seamless.


3. Embrace Cost-Effective Fun

Summer doesn’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable. Explore local and affordable activities in the area. Provincial parks, hiking trails, and community events can provide hours of entertainment at little to no cost. Summer is festival season across Alberta, with many low or no cost events taking place in cities, towns and provincial and national parks across the province. 

Consider hosting potluck barbecues or picnics where everyone contributes a dish, reducing the overall cost while enhancing the social experience. Trying DIY projects, such as gardening or home improvements, can also be a fun and productive way to spend your time without breaking the bank.


4. Set Spending Limits and Expectations

If you’re planning on attending any special events that include gift giving this summer, like weddings, create spending limits and, if possible, set clear expectations with family and friends. Establishing a mutual understanding can prevent overspending and reduce financial stress. It can also reduce the pressure you may feel to spend more if your friends and family are on the same page. 

For larger gatherings or celebrations, consider pooling resources. For instance, if you’re planning a family reunion or a big summer party, assign each attendee a specific item or responsibility. This not only distributes the cost but also fosters a sense of community and shared effort.


5. Use Credit Wisely

Summer can sometimes lead to unplanned expenses. While it’s tempting to rely on credit cards for these spur-of-the-moment costs, it’s important to use credit wisely.

Be cautious with "buy now, pay later" options, which often seem attractive but can lead to overspending. These plans might be interest-free, but they usually come with setup fees that add to your total cost. Instead, consider using your credit card’s interest-free grace period, typically 21 days, to manage short-term expenses.


Summer should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment, not financial stress. By creating a budget, planning ahead, embracing affordable activities, setting spending limits, and using credit wisely, you can take charge of your summer spending and make the most of the season without compromising your financial health.

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