Friday, July 17, 2015

5 Ways to Stay Ahead of the Financial Game This Summer

Oh, summer.  It's such a tease, isn't it?  It comes around with myths that there are no rules, no responsibilities, and no limits.  And to a certain extent, I guess that's right...I know we've stayed up a little too late and eaten a few too many calories!

But, as adults, we have to make sure this little family continues to run smoothly, even with that myth of no rules hanging over our heads.  Here are a few ways that we make sure our family stays ahead of the financial game during the summer!

1.  Watch those restaurant visits.  This is an area that really gets us this time of the year.  We've all been there; you've been at the pool/beach all day, and the last thing you want to do is cook.  It seems like such an easy solution to stop by a restaurant for quick take-out!  While that's great every once in awhile, those trips can really add up financially.  I prefer to have a solid grocery plan of quick, easy dinners during the summer, so there's no excuse to not cook.  I also love having a few freezer meals on hand for time where cooking just isn't happening.

2.  Have a stockpile of inexpensive ways to entertain during the summer. Kids are home this time of the year, and of course you'll start hearing the inevitable "I'm bored!" about 15 minutes into summer vacation.  I like to have a few tried-and-true ways to entertain during the summer.  We love our local library's story time; once a week, they provide a (free!) time for younger children to craft and listen to stories.  We also love our local movie theater's summer movies; once or twice a week, they offer very discounted movies for kids.  I know most areas have activities like your research and have 2 or 3 ways to entertain that won't cost a ton!  And don't get trapped in the myth that you have to spend money to have fun.  There are plenty of free ways to entertain children during the summer.

3.  Make a realistic budget to accommodate extra summer expenses.  There are just extra expenses during the summer...there's no way around that.  Instead of ignoring these costs (only to let the spending get out of control later), acknowledge that you are going to spend the money in your monthly budget.  You're so much more likely to stay on track in the budget department!

4. Don't stop saving just because it's summer.  If at all possible, keep the "saving" line in your budget this time of the year.  It's so much harder to get back into the swing of saving if you fall out!

5.  Start saving for next year's vacation now.  We all know the costs of vacations can be overwhelming.  Instead of coming up with everything at once, ease that blow a little bit setting aside funds each month for vacation expenses.  Don't forget, you'll need a budget for food, lodging, gas/airfare, and entertainment.

In spite of being financially prepared, we all know that accidents happen...and those can definitely have an impact on a budget.  More than 19 million injuries occur in the home each year, and the average cost of those injuries is around $5,500.  And, in a recent survey, only 38% of respondents believed they could handle these expenses with cash they had on hand.

But, there are ways to alleviate those unexpected expenses! Accident insurance helps families stay ahead of the medical and out-of-pocket expenses that add up quickly after an injury, so they can focus on recovery – not finances. Many supplemental insurance policies, like accident insurance, pay cash benefits that can be used for everyday living expenses like groceries, child care, lodging or parking at the hospital.

Aflac is introducing a new accident plan that includes a benefit for injuries sustained while playing an organized sport. This summer, in advance of open enrollment, take some time to look at what insurance is offered by your employer to be sure you have the right coverage for your family.  Help ensure that your budget stays on track for summer and beyond!

You can find more information on Aflac's accident insurance at their website.  Also, check out Aflac on Facebook and Twitter!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.