4 Summer Splurges that May Not Be Worth It
Summer is almost here and the long, lazy days are in full swing. The hazy heat and extra sunlight are cause for celebration. Days spent cooling off at the beach or pool and summer nights spent enjoying time with friends and family—is there anything better?
All of the summer fun can lead to some serious spending, though. It can be easy for summer to feel like the season of perpetual vacation, treating yourself to iced lattes and trips to the local ice cream stand.
When your friends are frequenting rooftop happy hour and splurging on tickets to outdoor concerts, it can be difficult to reign in your spending. The fear of missing out can make it easier for people to spend money on things they don’t actually want or need. One recent study found that of the 1,045 participants aged 18 to 34, nearly 40% said they had gone into debt to keep up with their friend’s lifestyles.
Especially in today’s social media obsessed world, it can be easy to feel left out when you’re sitting at your desk envious of a Facebook friend’s trip to Fiji. One of the biggest drivers of consumer behavior is social comparison.
According to Michael Norton , a researcher at Harvard Business School who studies how money affects happiness, people are more likely to spend money on a non-necessity when they feel the purchase will “leapfrog them past as many people as possible.” To help you avoid compulsive spending this summer, we’ve compiled a short list of things that might not be worth splurging on.
When it feels like everyone you know is out of town enjoying the vacation of a lifetime, it can be tempting to book a last-minute trip. But booking a vacation on a whim can be expensive. Many Americans travel during the summer months, so it’s worth planning ahead, especially if you are on a budget.
Planning ahead also means you may have a little more time to save, so you’re prepared for the upcoming expenses.
If the laid back c’est la vie summer vibes kick in and you can’t resist the impulse to take a trip, consider selecting a summer getaway that’s driving distance so you can avoid the cost of last-minute airfare. It costs an average of $208 more to book a flight less than six days before the date of travel.
Events or Festivals
Before you buy a ticket to the music festival or concert, think about how much it really means to you. Are you buying the ticket because you are genuinely excited about the event? Or are you making the purchase because you don’t want to miss out and all of your friends are going to be there? If it’s the latter, you may want to rethink the splurge.
If it’s a local event, it can be easier to justify the expense. But if it’s a festival that requires traveling, you’ll have to factor in the cost of gas or airfare, lodging, and food in addition to the cost of the ticket. For a major festival like Coachella, that could mean spending a couple thousand dollars in a weekend.
Be Cautious of Summer Sales
Summer is a season full of shopping holidays. From Memorial Day, to Fourth of July, to Labor Day, the stores will be running promotions to entice customers all summer long. Instead of seeing a 50% off sign and thinking you have to buy something because it’s deeply discounted, consider whether you actually need that item.
Finding a great deal on something you actually need and will use can be a win. But buying something you don’t need just because it’s on sale doesn’t necessarily mean you saved money. In fact, it may mean you spent money on something you didn’t need.
If you’re thinking of making a luxury purchase, the summer sales may offer an opportunity to get the item you’ve been lusting after at a discounted price. But before you swipe your card, ask yourself if you’d buy the item at full price. If the answer is no, it may be worth skipping the purchase.
Discounted Admission for Excursions
A day at the aquarium, theme park, or zoo can be a fun way to entertain the kids, but before you splurge on full-priced admission, see if you can get discounted passes. Some zoos or botanical gardens may offer discounted admission on certain days. It’s also worth checking if you get a discount through your employer or another organization, like AAA .
Plan ahead for your summer outings. Be sure to bring water and snacks with you to avoid paying the high prices at the venue or theme park. Plus, arriving armed with your children’s favorite treats could help you avoid a mid-afternoon hunger meltdown.
Responsible Summer Spending
While it’s easy to go overboard on spending in the summer, don’t feel like you can’t enjoy the little luxuries of the season. Instead of saying yes to every event invitation or evening out, take a minute to think before you accept.
If the experience will bring you long-term joy, by all means, say yes and go have some fun! Alternatively, if it’s something you won’t remember a week from now, there may be other ways you’d rather spend your time and money.
Be open and honest with your friends and family if you’re trying to stay on a budget and save money this summer. Instead of feeling like you’re missing out on all the fun, get creative and make some of your own. Enjoy the great outdoors and organize a hike with some of your besties.
Pack a picnic and hit the beach with your significant other, or take a stroll around the farmer’s market and sample a bit of local produce while soaking up the sunshine. Some museums have days where admission is free or discounted, which could be a fun way to spend an afternoon. One of the best things about summer is the warm weather, so get outside and enjoy it!
Understanding your financial priorities can go a long way in helping you stick to your goals. Instead of spending money on something you don’t actually want, you can work on saving for your next financial goal.
One way to do this is by using a cash management account, like SoFi Money®. With SoFi Money, you can easily track your spending and saving. Withdrawing cash is fee-free at 55,000+ ATMs worldwide (subject to change), which means more money stays in your wallet.
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