This time of year can be expensive. Fact. With weddings to attend, holidays to book and barbecues to host, you can soon find yourself short of money and seriously stressed. But don’t despair – you can still enjoy the warmer months (parties and all) without spending a fortune…
What makes you feel anxious? Work? Keeping on top of the chores? For many of us, money comes out top – and this can have a drastic impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing. “More than two thirds of my clients say they’ve felt stressed or anxious about money at some point in their lives,” says financial adviser Claire Sweet, who runs Peace Together Money Coaching (peacetogether.co.uk). “Not having enough each month, or dealing with debt, is one of the largest causes of financial stress, but even people with good incomes can still get anxious about money.”
This can be a serious problem in the warmer months, when invites to social events are aplenty and there seems to be a wedding or birthday every other weekend. So, just how can you rein in your spending and keep on track with your finances while reducing anxiety and stress? We’ve asked the experts for their advice…
When you’re hosting a family barbecue…
Although it’s nice to invite all your family round to soak up the sunshine and enjoy a barbecue, things can soon escalate when you’re hosting and you may be left with a hefty bill at the supermarket. So what can you do?
Plan ahead: As Claire advises, buying food in advance can help. “Buy barbecue food out of season and freeze it, especially if it’s reduced or on offer,” she says. “Supermarkets often inflate their prices before bank holidays and when it’s sunny, so bear this in mind and plan ahead.”
Make dishes at home: It can be tempting to get everything you need from the shops, but this isn’t always the cheapest option. “Make a good-sized salad and some coleslaw at home,”
Claire says. “Both cost less than readyprepared versions and this will allow people to fill their plates without going overboard on the (more expensive) meat options.”
Ask your family for help: “Just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you to have to cover all the costs,” says Dilusha Hettiralalage, a savings expert at discount website codes.co.uk. “Don’t be afraid to ask your relatives to bring a dish each and a bottle of drink.”
When you’re going away…
Summer is synonymous with holidays, but a trip away can sometimes swallow up far more money than you budgeted. This needn’t be the case though – there are plenty of ways to be a savvy traveller.
Book your airport parking in advance: This will help you get the best deals, says Claire. “Also, if you’re going away for two weeks or more, look at staying overnight in a hotel near the airport with parking included as this is often cheaper than the parking alone,” she suggests.
Secure a good currency exchange rate: “And never buy your currency at the airport unless you have pre-booked a good rate,” Claire adds.
Don’t buy lots of new things: Remember, most people wear less than half of what they pack, so any new clothes you purchase probably won’t get worn.
Use travel forums: According to Claire, these can help you find the cheapest place to book excursions and you’ll usually find restaurant tips as well.
When you’ve been invited to a wedding…
There’s no doubt about it – weddings can be expensive. What with buying a new outfit, sourcing a gift, enjoying drinks at the reception and maybe even staying in a hotel, the cost can soon build up. So, how can you make it a more affordable affair?
Look at hotel options: Although many wedding venues have rooms that they offer to guests at a discount, they’re not always the cheapest. “Browse hotel comparison sites and look at accommodation nearby,” advises Dilusha. “Many venues also now give the option to camp out – so don’t be afraid to ask the question.” Choosing to drive to and from the wedding rather than staying is also a surefire way to save money.
Research present ideas: “Instead of a traditional gift, why not buy the couple an experience day or meal voucher?” asks Claire. “Often companies have these on offer throughout the year – just check the expiry date.”
Borrow an outfit: If you don’t have anything suitable to wear, ask a friend if you can borrow something of theirs. You can repay the favour later in the year.
When you’re looking for a new summer wardrobe…
Whether it’s because trends have changed or your weight has fluctuated, many of us are guilty of wanting a whole new wardrobe when a new season hits. But new clothes don’t have to cost a lot…
Organise a clothes swap: Good fun and free to host, these are a brilliant way of filling your wardrobe with new clothes – and recycling your old items, too.
Customise: “If you are even the slightest bit creative you can easily customise clothes you already have and give the impression you have a new wardrobe,” Dilusha advises. Watch guides on YouTube or ask a talented friend for help.
Be a savvy shopper: “Don’t forget to shop around online for discount codes and offers before you make any purchase,” Dilusha adds. “A few pounds here and there can make a big difference over the course of a year.”
Struggle to keep on top of where your money goes each month? Jessica Exton, behavioural scientist at ING bank, has the following advice…
Track your spending: Using an app to track your spending habits can make you more aware of where your money is going and help you avoid stress at the end of the month.
Consider the unexpected: Infrequent expenses, such as a car repair, can often get excluded from budget planning because they are unexpected. The key is to make a monthly plan that takes these expenses into account.
Break it down: By analysing the things you spend money on unnecessarily (a daily coffee that you could make at home) you can start to pinpoint opportunities to reduce spending.