Here's What to Add to Your Summer Financial Bucket List

By Jackie Lam, AFC®
Published on: 05/25/2023

While summer is the season to have fun and relax, you should still be smart about what you're doing with your money. Inflation has likely been eating up your spending cash, and a possible recession could make you feel money is tighter.

Here are seven financial housekeeping tips to keep in mind this summer:

1. Do a budget check-in

Sure, you'd rather binge-watch your favorite TV shows, watch paint dry on the wall, or bury your head in the sand. While looking over your budget might not top your list of favorite pastimes, it can be an eye-opener to where your money is going. Plus, it can help make for better-informed financial choices.

Check the following:

  • All expenses are accounted for. Include your monthly costs, and one-time yearly expenses (i.e., car registration, school fees).
  • Review past spending. Check past bank or credit card statements, or transactions from the last few months on a money management app.

Then, make adjustments as needed. This includes:

  • Look for areas you can cut back on. See if you can curb eating out, or scale back on how much you spend weekly on groceries. Look for any recurring, monthly subscriptions you no longer use or need, then consider dropping them.

Ask yourself: Do you really need that gym membership? Or will daily walks around the neighborhood and free online yoga videos help fulfill your exercise needs.

  • Find ways to earn more money. On the flip side of cutting back on your expenses, look for ways to make more. It can be as simple as purging your stuff and selling stuff you no longer need on online marketplaces.

2. Set up autopay

For those important bills you don't want to be late on—utilities, credit card bills, car loan balance, car insurance payments—set up automatic payments. It takes only a few minutes to schedule these payments so they're on autopilot. That way, you won't worry about forgetting to pay a bill and falling behind.

For bills that you can't set up automatic payments for (i.e., rent), consider stashing away part of your paycheck into a separate savings fund specifically for that expense.

3. Review your current benefits and policies

The summer is a good time to do a mid-year check in on your current benefits and insurance policies. It's a good idea to take a look now. That way, when your benefit enrollment period rolls around (this happens once a year), you'll be in a better place to adjust your benefits based on your existing needs.

For benefits you get through your employer, such as health insurance, a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), retirement plan, or insurance you get on your own, such as life insurance or disability insurance, look at the following:

  • Is your insurance coverage enough for you and your family's needs?
  • Are you paying too much out of pocket for co-pays?
  • Can you afford to cover the yearly deductible?
  • Are you stashing enough aside in your FSA or HSA?
  • Are you on track to use the funds in your FSA by year's end?

4. Set a budget for summer activities

To avoid overspending and digging a deeper debt hole, create a budget just for summer activities. How you decide to indulge in fun is up to you, but common expenses might include:

  • Family cookouts
  • Entertainment (i.e., water parks, amusement parks, concerts, movies)
  • Sweet treat outings
  • Occasional, out-of-the-blue splurges

If you're side hustling on top of your 9-5, consider putting aside a portion of money earned from your different gigs. If you're using side hustle money to help cover living expenses and pay off debt, see what you can reasonably afford.

Plus, look for ways to have fun that are low cost or free. Go on a hike, plant a garden, or plan a craft activity with your littles. Check local calendar listings for free events, like concerts or movies in the park in your town. It's all about creating memories, and that doesn't always require doling out a lot of cash.

5. Shop around for insurance

Your auto and homeowners insurance are one of your biggest expenses. The beauty of insurance is that you can switch policies at any time, or wait until your policy renewal. While it might be easier to keep rolling over your policy, it's a good idea to shop around at least every few years.

6. Plan ahead for upcoming expenses

Start prepping for fall and winter expenses. Start by listing what additional costs tend to pop up at the end of the year. This might include back-to-school shopping, and holiday travel, gatherings, and gifts.

Next, estimate roughly how much each expense will cost you. Then, consider finding ways to lower each payment or save a bit for these expenses around the corner. Try to save a portion of each paycheck. See if you can take on extra hours at your day job or pick up a side hustle.

7. Check in with a financial counselor

If you could use some professional guidance, schedule a time to sit with a financial advisor or non-profit financial counselor. Your workplace might offer free financial advice or coaching sessions, which can be part of your benefits package. Another place to start is to look for free financial counseling resources.

If you have to pay to work with a professional, do your homework to make sure you understand their fees, and read up on reviews to make sure they have a good reputation.

A check-in with a financial counselor can help you figure out a budget, and make sure you're spending within your means. They can also work with you on finding ways to work toward your larger goals, planning for college, drumming up a financial plan, managing your debt, and building credit.

While you'd probably prefer to focus strictly on having fun, a summer money check-in can help you stay within your budget and reduce financial stress. Don't delay!

About the author

A personal finance writer for over 8 years, Jackie Lam covers money management, lending, insurance, investing, and banking, and personal stories. An AFC® accredited financial coach, she is passionate about helping freelance creatives design money systems on irregular income, gain greater awareness of their money narratives, and overcome mental and emotional blocks.

Her work has appeared in publications such as Bankrate, Time's NextAdvisor, CNET, Forbes,, and BuzzFeed. She is the 2022 recipient of Money Management International's Financial Literacy and Education in Communities (FLEC) Award, and a two-time Plutus Awards nominee for Best Freelancer in Personal Finance Media. She lives in Los Angeles where she spends her free time swimming, drumming, and daydreaming about stickers.

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Written on May 25, 2023
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