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8 Clever Ways to Save Money This Summer

Written by
Samantha Rose
Samantha Rose is a personal finance writer covering financial literacy for OppU. Her work focuses on providing hands-on resources for high school and college-age students in addition to their parents and educators.
Read time: 9 min
Updated on July 31, 2023
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Hello, summer. Goodbye, money.

FOMO is real. It's also one of the main culprits behind financial self-sabotage. Summertime social media feeds are flooded with vacation pics and new outfits, creating a costly arms race of spending to keep up with friends.

But here’s a secret: saving money doesn’t have to mean sacrifice. For instance, summer ushers in warm weather, beach days, and outdoor recreation, in addition to a host of other budget-friendly options.

Ready to ditch FOMO and its budget-draining effects? These expert-approved saving strategies are the tips you’ve been waiting for.

1. Vacation Strategically

Matt Schmidt, CEO of Diabetes Life Solutions

One vacation strategy my family utilizes is waiting until the middle to later part of August to take a beach vacation. Many resort areas such as Myrtle Beach, Sarasota, Hilton Head, and others have amazing deals toward the end of summer. They know it's the last couple of weeks of summer, so they are willing to offer discounts to get to maximum occupancy. Oftentimes airline prices and pricing of condos are 40 percent lower than the beginning of August or July.

2. Several Short Trips

Chris Clemens, chief exploring officer at Exploring Upstate

Most people love the idea of going away someplace exotic for a week, or even longer. It can be costly to take a vacation that lasts that long even if you just consider the costs of food.

What I recommend to my readers is that instead of one long vacation in the summer, take a few shorter ones. You can easily find a place in your state you've never been to before, and take a few days to visit while feeling like you're away. Plus, you get to take a few vacations in the summer!

Financial benefits of traveling closer to home:

  • Since you'll be driving, you can pack a cooler with food for your first day and save there.
  • Driving to a destination is cheaper than flying, and you won't have to rent a car or Uber around when you arrive.
  • Shorter vacations mean you don't need to pay someone to watch your house or mow your lawn while you're away.
  • There's a lot of local resources to help you enjoy your own region on the cheap. Here in New York State, there's a fee to get into state parks, but you can borrow a pass from your local library and save that way.

3. Go on a Road Trip

Timothy Wiedman, PHR Emeritus of Doane College

Instead of flying the family to Disney World or cruising Alaska's Inside Passage, why not take a family road trip?

America's national parks and national monuments are likely the best vacation values that most folks will ever experience. So a summer road trip that includes one (or more) of these natural wonders could easily keep folks well-occupied for a solid week or more while hiking, backpacking, canoeing or kayaking, photographing the natural scenery and wildlife, and possibly (depending on the national park that one visits) viewing some of America's most unique natural wonders (Yellowstone's geysers and its mud volcano area both come to mind). Most national parks have moderately priced motels within a reasonably short drive of the park entrance; but to save even more, all national parks also have campgrounds (and a great many of those campgrounds have fairly modern facilities available).

For example, six years ago I visited Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park (which is directly adjacent to Yellowstone National Park via the scenic, tree-lined, 8-mile-long Rockefeller Memorial Parkway), and I camped at Jenny Lake. I had been to Grand Teton/Yellowstone once before; but on that prior trip, I had stayed in the town of Jackson (the only incorporated municipality within the Jackson Hole Valley) at the Motel 6. While at the time, that Motel 6 location might well have been one of the nicest in that company's entire chain (even sporting a good-sized outdoor swimming pool), my room was a bit cramped; and it was a 35-minute drive to the Grand Teton park entrance (although the rural scenic route through the valley certainly helped make that daily trek much more tolerable).

Camping at Jenny Lake, on the other hand, was wonderful. You can camp there an entire calendar week for what you would spend at Motel 6 for a couple of weekend nights! The smell of the pines is free, the views of the mountains across Jenny Lake (visible from many campsites) are worth a million bucks, and living close to nature, folks will likely see plenty of wildlife nearby (so being sensible about food storage is a must). But cookouts will save money (and are often a healthier option than restaurant fare); and by beginning each day inside the park, folks will also save in terms of commuting time and gas. Camping may not be for everybody—especially if the weather does not fully cooperate. But for the cost of a single week-end spent sleeping in motels and eating at restaurants, a family can easily take a pretty long camping trip in one (or more) of America's scenic national parks. So that all-important summer family vacation can definitely carry a very reasonable price tag, while also providing wonderful bonding opportunities and some great memories!

4. Create a Budget

Deborah Sweeney, CEO of

If you want to save money this summer, and really stick to your plan to save significantly, I recommend creating a spreadsheet of your current expenses and existing debt. Which expenses are unnecessary, like frequent dining out or subscribing to too many streaming platforms, that you know you can cut back on, even temporarily, in order to repay debt? Once you have an understanding of what you can easily cut back on, you'll be amazed at how much you'll save and be able to put towards repaying debt, adding to savings, and even maintaining this kind of behavior—to make it a regular habit—after putting your initial plan into action.

Karen Ford, Money Matters! financial coach

A budget is telling your money what to do instead of wondering what happened to it.

Write down your income for the month and list all of your debts, payments, utilities, car payment etc. Create your budget. This is the easy part.

Tips to stick to the budget. Place it on your fridge so it’s ever before you. What you see, you’re more likely to stick to it. So if you see a new gadget or trendy thing you would love to buy, you’ll see your budget to see if you can buy it this month or place it in your budget for next month.

5. Set a Goal

Leif Kristjansen, founder of Five Year FIRE Escape

By far the best way to save money this summer is to get yourself a vision. Something that really motivates you that you want to achieve by the end of the summer.

People think budgeting or tracking money is great but I tried it and I hated it. If you have a goal that you really care about then you will always be motivated to save for it instead of the weird stuff that's in front of you. You want to buy a car at the end of the summer, put a picture of it as your cell phone background. Then every time you are about to spend some money look at it and think to yourself: ‘I'm choosing to not buy this awesome car.’

If you want that car, you won't say it. Do it enough times and suddenly you have a car. Any goal works, like maybe paying off a car loan. Whatever. As long as it’s good for you and you care, it's worth saving for.

6. No-Spend Challenge

Stephanie Schill, personal finance blogger at Wynning in Life

I recently completed a one-month no-spend challenge and highly recommend it to reset and realign financial habits. I was surprised by changes in my personal habits as a result of completing one, including less spending overall, less time on my phone browsing and shopping, and less time spent in the car running unnecessary errands.

The goal of a no-spend challenge is to not spend unnecessarily for a specific period of time. For me it was one month; for others, it may be one week. The summer is an opportune time to let your budget and finances get off track between summer activities, festivals, holidays, etc.

By participating in a no-spend challenge you not only keep your finances on track, but you can break poor financial habits you’ve established over time. For example, impulse purchases or those unconscious dollars spent eating out here or grabbing a coffee there, that really adds up!

How to start a no-spend challenge:

First, establish a timeline. How long will your no-spend challenge be for?

Next, define the rules of engagement. What can and can’t you spend money on? Be real with yourself about the habits you are trying to break and what your personal goal with the challenge is. Identify the financial spending habits you are trying to break and write them down as the things you can’t spend money on.

Finally, enjoy the summer. Focus less on spending and more on having fun with what you already have. You’ll be surprised with summer distractions how little you miss the extra spending.

7. Find an Accountability Buddy

Karen Ford, Money Matters! financial coach

Get an accountability partner. When we voice goals to someone, we are more likely to stick to it and make those goals, because someone else will hold us accountable.

8. Install Smart Technology

Josh McCormick, vice president of operations for Mr. Electric

Installing a smart thermostat can save you $100+ on your home’s largest energy expense—heating and cooling. The smart technology keeps your home at a more consistent climate, using your family's preferences and information about outdoor temperatures and humidity. Many can be controlled remotely and can be switched off or on when you're not home to use them to help cut back on energy usage.

Smart outlets work with apps on your phone or home assistant gadgets, like Alexa. Homeowners can schedule when they want their outlets on or off, reducing energy vampire devices and appliances saving up to $200 per year.

A smart sprinkler controller can cut your outdoor water expenses by 50 percent! These devices use a combination of weather data and programmed information on your yard's watering needs to make sure no water goes to waste.

Light Occupancy Sensor Switches: These gadgets sense when someone enters or leaves a room, turning lights on and off when needed. Depending on your family's light usage, these devices could save you anywhere from $10 to $150.

Bottom Line

Ball out this summer, but make sure it’s a reasonable, budget-friendly kind of fun. The nice weather makes for an ideal opportunity to take advantage of warm-weather events that are typically free or low-cost. With our tips, this summer will be kind to wallets everywhere.


Article contributors

Chris Clemens lives in Rochester, New York, where he writes on about discovering the culture, history, and places that make Upstate New York a great place to explore.

Karen Ford

Karen Ford is a master financial coach, public speaker, entrepreneur, and author at who has coached people with a variety of money issues; from just $500 in debt to $800,000 in debt. She has coached folks with up to 86 credit cards and taught them how to pay down and pay off those credit cards in record time.

Leif Kristjansen is the founder of Five Year FIRE Escape where he blogs about his early retirement and how others can do the same. Once upon a time, he worked as a scientist in high tech in Toronto, Canada, but after enough late nights and stress-filled days, he decided to get out. He quit working at 32 with a wife, kids, and a house in a pricey city. His wife even retired two years before. He accomplished this through saving, financial savviness, and rental houses which all started back in college.

Josh McCormick is the vice president of operations for Mr. Electric, a Neighborly Company and the nation’s leading residential and commercial electrical providers.

Stephanie Schill

Stephanie Schill is the creator of the personal finance blog Wynning In Life. On her site, she shares how you can spend less, save more, and achieve your financial goals faster. A lifetime saver and self-proclaimed shameless couponer, she is passionate about saving intentionally, spending consciously, and having fun along the way. When not writing she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband Nick and their daughter Wynn.

Matt Schmidt

Matt Schmidt is the CEO of Diabetes Life Solutions, a life insurance agency who only works with the diabetes community, to help secure insurance products.

Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services.

Tim Wiedman

Timothy Wiedman spent 13 years in operations management working for two different Fortune 1000 companies. Afterwards, Dr. Wiedman spent the next 28 years teaching college courses in management and human resources. He holds two graduate business degrees, earned a professional certification in financial planning at Old Dominion University, and often taught a college course on personal finance.

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