Financial expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox offers tips on how save this summer!
- Utility Bills
The big energy sucker that's sending those utility bills up is your air conditioning, so here are a few great tips for reducing your A/C usage.
Clean your air conditioning unit and replace the filters. It helps the A/C to run more efficiently.
Use fans whenever possible. This can cut your A/C usage by up to 40%.
Use a programmable thermostat so your central air isn't running when you're not home.
Utilize your window coverings. Pull shades and blinds closed during the day to keep out the heat.
Unplug appliances when they're not in use, especially when you're going away for the Weekend or on a longer vacation. Things like TVs, computers, gaming systems, coffee pots, toasters – pull the plug on them, or shut off the power strip.
It's no surprise that the cost of gas tends to go up in the summer months. So here are a few smart steps to take to save you from pain at the pump.
De-clutter your car. Any excess weight you're carrying around lowers fuel efficiency.
The same goes for tire pressure. It's free to do at practically any gas station and you will boost your fuel efficiency.
Get a "gas app." Use your smartphone to find the best prices on gas. Plenty of apps will allow you to compare gas prices along your route. And if you're going to be driving through different states in the course of your trip, you may find that gas is significantly cheaper in one state versus another.
Research the best deals and find hotels that are kid-friendly! When the hotel becomes part of the fun, it saves you from spending on other activities.
Get outdoors and back to nature! Consider going to one of the nation's 2,000 federal parks and recreation sites! You can buy an annual pass for just $80 and it covers up to four people for the whole year!
If you're heading out on family field trips like zoos and museums, there are great money-saving tips to keep in mind. Many museums offer free admission days. Others require only a "suggested donation" where you pay what you can afford. If you happen to have joined a zoo or museum near you, check to see when they offer "reciprocity days" at other attractions in your area. And don't forget that membership at these non-profit facilities are also tax deductible.
- School Supplies
Buy all of our kids' school supplies through the PTA. Many school districts are doing this now and it's cheaper because they buy supplies in bulk. They also tell you exactly what to get, and have packages premade for each grade.
"Shop your closet." You probably have lots of leftover supplies from this past school year, or unopened supplies in the office or garage. Check all of that stuff before you go out.
Many states offer "tax free" shopping days for back to school items. These sales tax holidays typically come around in August, and can save you a nice chunk of change – either 7, 8, 9% depending where you live. Check your state's tax department website for details.
Movies: Purchase movie tickets in bulk. You can buy a four-pack of tickets from those warehouse discounters, good for a variety of theaters, for just $34.99. A 10-pack is $82.99. So you're saving about $2-3 per ticket.
Avoid the concession stand and all those treats at the counter. They usually wind up doubling your cost of admission.
Camping: Don't shell out big bucks for summer camp before exploring three ways to save money on this expense.
Make sure you claim your tax break for summer camp. Most people don't know it, but according to the IRS, if you send your kid(s) who are under 13 to day camp so that you can work, you could be entitled to a tax deduction of up to $3,000 for one child or $6,000 for two children.
Ask for scholarships to reduce your financial outlay for camp. Many camps offer scholarships – but only to those savvy enough to request them upfront.
Finally, inquire about sibling discounts or any other price breaks a camp may have.