Planning for Summer Fun
By Angela Speakman
Summer is just around the corner. And you know what that means? It’s time for summer dress shopping, vacation planning, and making dinner reservations at your favorite beachside restaurant. That all sounds great, but…how much is that going to cost? If you’re worried about keeping your spending in check during the next four months, it’s time to start thinking about summertime entertainment and brushing up on your budgeting skills.
What is a budget? A budget is defined as “a plan for the coordination of resources and expenditures”. Basically, a budget is a strategy to avoid overspending. If you plan for how you’re going to spend your money this summer, you’ll spend wiser and get more out of each dollar.
First, you’ll want to figure out which of those summer pastimes you’d like to enjoy this summer. Come up with a wish list. Are there events you’d like to attend? You can visit sites like www.co.cumberland.nj.us or www.visitsouthjersey.com to find out about summer festivals, concerts, and neighborhood celebrations. Is there a vacation spot you’d like to visit? Or maybe you’d just like to plan a few fantastic day trips to regional museums, aquariums, or popular beach spots. Find out which hot book titles and movies will be coming out over the summer. Don’t forget to include some shopping trips on your list too; you may have your sights set on a pair of strappy sandals or a new swimsuit. You’re not only creating a strong foundation for your budget, you’re researching how you’re going to enjoy the season. Be sure to write down prices and pay attention to summer deals like savings for advanced ticket purchases or reduced fees for off-peak fun.
After you create your wish list, then figure out how much you have to spend during over the summer for recreation. You can calculate this amount by tallying your monthly expenses and subtracting that number from your incoming funds. A helpful hint - be realistic and take into account ALL your expenses. There are some fixed ones, like mortgage, rental, and utilities payments and food costs, but keep in mind there are variable payments too. It’s important to budget for potential variable expenses like car repairs and doctors visits. If you’re not sure about what expenses (or potential expenses) to take into account, there are many thorough books out there to help you create your itemized list.
Once you have your summer ‘fun’ money calculated, revisit your list of day trips, concerts, beach reads, and sandals. A quick warning - this next part can be tough. Rank your activities in order of significance. Perhaps there was a special show in Atlantic City you ranked as number one, but decide that you can live without that outlet shopping trip that you jotted down. Assess which items should stay and which could go. Once you’ve ranked your entertainment, you’re all set to make your decisions.
You have your list of activities (including which ones you really don’t want to miss) and your budget. And since you even gathered all the pertinent cost information already, you can start filling up your calendar. Summer is almost here and you’re ready to have some fun. Even better, if you stick to your plan all summer, you won’t have to worry about overspending.
Angela Speakman is CEO of The Writing Blueprint, a company specializing in editing and writing services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a master’s degree in Writing Arts from Rowan University. Angela has worked in the book industry for four years. Also, she teaches writing at Atlantic Cape Community College and is a certified literacy tutor. She is currently working on her first novel and resides in Cumberland County, NJ.
The Writing Blueprint, LLC