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With the weather warming up and summer plans being made, it’s time to think about how to stay on a budget this summer and avoid any unnecessary expenses.

Setting a summer budget doesn’t mean missing out on the fun, it just means planning to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Use these tips to help set a budget that allows for fun-filled days today and all summer long.

Assess your needs.

First, ask yourself how much you want to do and spend over the summer. Use this step as an ‘ideal situation’ step. How many trips are you planning? How long are you going to be there? Where are you going?

Give an estimate of how much you are planning on spending throughout the summer on these activities. Write the number down so you have it for later.

Right now, don’t worry about how high the number is. You’re most likely going to have to cut some of these expenses out, but this step allows you to decide what you want.

Decide how much you can afford to spend.

Closely look at your current financial situation and realistically decide how much you can afford to spend throughout the summer. Look at what’s in your checking, savings and if you’re planning a large trip, maybe even look at the limits on a few credit cards.

Don’t depend on credit regularly for your summer plans and be careful that you are not overusing credit. If you overuse credit during this short period of time, you are only going to have higher payments to worry about later.

After you have assessed how much money you have to spend this summer, compare it to your ideal number. If the ideal and realistic numbers are close, you’re all set to go ahead and plan as you had hoped. If the ideal number is lower than the realistic number, set some money aside for savings and help your later self.

For many, ideal numbers are probably higher than their realistic numbers. This doesn’t mean you can’t do the things you wanted to. It just means you’ll have to consider what you can cut back on to make your number a little more realistic.

Trim your list.

If your ideal summer plans were maybe a bit too ambitious, you’ll have to trim some plans in order to stay on budget.

Start by looking at the most expensive things on your list and the least important things. If you can cut out one of the most expensive things, you may be able to do all the less expensive plans. If there are a couple of items on your list that would be nice to do, but aren’t a must-have this year, you may want to cut these and possibly save them for later.

Maybe you had several baseball games or multiple concerts on your list. Consider cutting those down to only one each so you can still experience a variety of summer activities. As an alternative, look for free local music or sporting events to give you your music or sports fix without adding expenses to your budget.

How you trim your expenses is entirely up to you. Your goal is to get your ideal number as close as possible to your realistic number while still being able to do many of the things on your wish list.

Think about smaller costs.

Maybe instead of cutting out a trip altogether, you can cut back on transportation or food costs. These expenses can be addressed in a couple of ways. On your trip, maybe driving would be a cheaper option than flying. If you’re driving, maybe you can pack some groceries, so you don’t need to eat out for every meal.

Otherwise, you can start saving before you hit the road. Limit the number of times you eat out in general to save a little extra cash. Plant some extra veggies in your garden, if you have one. Buy a few extra groceries. This way you don’t have to worry about spending more to eat out while you’re on your trips.

All this talk of summer plans got you thinking of other ways to stay on budget? Check out our blogs on savings contests and more tips to stay on budget this summer.