I was born on a tropical island and whenever I heard the phrase “Oh, what a lovely day” in a movie or in books I never really got it, because for me every day was lovely. It was not until I moved to a temperate country that I really understood what a lovely day is! Bright sunny and warm days are the quintessential lovely days. It makes us happier. The sun rays give us vitamin D and nourish our immune system, why won’t we be happy? It’s wonderful to see the transition from winter to spring and finally summer. People keep getting happier and happier and it all explodes in July and August!
It is well known that when we are happier, we tend to spend more, our generosity for ourselves and others expand. It’s not just in our heads. There have been numerous studies since the early 1970s that found that as consumers’ moods become more positive, they spend more money. Specifically the recent academic studies which focus on sunlight, show that exposure to sunlight increases people’s mood and this in turn increases spending.
Summer is upon us and good cheer abounds. Good weather means we are out more and we tend to consume more food and drink in the summer than other times of the year. We use more gas, we stay at more hotels, we have more pool parties, more cocktails, kids are either at camp or we take them on vacation and we do landscaping. There is a lot of spending going on. We have to be careful that all this good cheer is not burning a hole in our wallets. I don’t mean to be a kill joy, but I have to at least warn you that in all the hysteria of summer, please keep your cool when it comes to spending. You don’t have to necessarily suffer a financial burn after summer if you take a few precautionary steps. The best way to do this is to have a summer budget. Allocate money for all your summer activities and apportion it out on a weekly basis and or a daily basis especially if you are travelling a lot.
While we have to cease the day we also have to remember that at some point September will be back. As the colder months approach we tend to put a brake on spending as we sober up from the intoxication of summer. Some people straight off get depressed. Recent research has found an interesting correlation between the weather and financial crisis, specifically many of the financial crises happen in the Fall, when the weather is getting colder. As the weather gets colder people become less optimistic and they spend less and take less risk.
Before all the solar merriment begins, take a moment and plan your summer finances. Most importantly STICK WITH IT. Don’t throw caution to the wind because you are having such a great time. You should have a great time but be financially conscious as well. Remember that some of the most enjoyable and meaningful things in life don’t cost money. Here are some ideas for you to consider:
- Staycation – Instead of flying out to a foreign land, why not explore your city or a nearby city. Local resorts with friends can be just as much fun and less costly.
- Use the car less, walk more, bike or use public transport. All these activities are better for your health and for the environment.
- Take advantage of all the local festivals and activities in your area. Parks, libraries and other community partners usually have free movies, music and theater. Free movies under the summer sky with the kids can create some fabulous memories. Bring along your own fun and nutritious snacks and you’ve got your health and budget covered.
- Use cash and ditch the credit card over the summer. This will make it easier for you to stick to your budget. When the cash runs out, you stop spending! This is a great way to ensure that you stay on course with your weekly or daily budget.
- If you have extra space in your house or basement, you may consider renting it out for the summer. Students and other staycationers may need lodging that you can provide. This is an excellent way to earn some extra cash that can fund our own summer extravaganza.
- Making meaningful memories with your children. Play in the backyard, do craft, paint and draw. Have a dance party in your living room. Sit and talk, watch the clouds go by. Spending quality time with your kids doesn’t cost a dime, but it the return on that investment stays with them and you, for many years to come.
By all means ENJOY your summer, but do so in a way that you will not be financially stressed after summer is over.