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Three strategies to keep your budget in check over the summer holidays

“The fundamental rule is planning,” says one expert about how to keep your budget in check over the summer holidays. (Getty Images)
“The fundamental rule is planning,” says one expert about how to keep your budget in check over the summer holidays. (Getty Images) (PamelaJoeMcFarlane via Getty Images)

The summer months are when Canadians hit the patios with friends and take that long-awaited road trip. But while warmer weather can lend itself to some fun activities, those can be costly.

A recent survey from online cash-back platform Rakuten found 73 per cent of Canadians intend to travel this year, with 68 per cent of respondents planning to take steps to cut costs. Meanwhile, data from Statista suggest Canadians spent nearly $8 billion in restaurants and bars in July 2022, the most since at least 2017.

With all that spending, Saijal Patel, a financial wellness expert, founder and CEO of Saij Elle, believes Canadians can save a few dollars if they plan and budget for this spending year-round.

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“The fundamental rule is planning," Patel said in an interview with Yahoo Finance Canada. "Create a plan and within that plan, have a budget. If you can do those things, you won't go wrong,"

“Having a budget means you're assessing your financial situation and you can decide how much money you want to put aside for things that you have planned over the summer.”

When planning and budgeting for the summer, Patel says it’s important to write things down, that way you don’t get off track.

“By doing that, you increase the chance of avoiding those impulse purchases or impulse spending,” she said.

Caval Olson-Lepage, a certified financial planner at Innovation Wealth, suggests opening multiple savings accounts for your various financial goals can also help keep everything on track.

“For myself personally, I have an account labelled ‘vacation’ and every paycheque, I automatically transfer a little bit into that account all year and that is what we use to fund things like our annual summer camp trip,” she said.

“Get as granular as you want, like if you want to set one aside for concerts, if you want to set one aside for camping or for that summer road trip, it's really up to you how you do it.”

While the summer months are the prime opportunity to catch up with friends on a patio, Olson-Lepage suggests some simple tweaks to get-togethers can help keep the spending in check.

“Maybe you're going for a walk in the park and you guys are grabbing a coffee instead or you're doing more of a backyard barbecue where it's a little cheaper,” she said.

“So just trying to find more cost-effective ways that you're not saying no to those social activities and all of the things you want to do, but maybe you're able to do it in a more budget-conscious way.”

Patel suggests being mindful of a menu can save a few dollars as well.

“It's nice to share,” she said. “Get a few appetizers or shareable plates because that can help cut down on costs, especially if you're not a big eater.”

Additionally, Patel suggests cutting down on alcohol will keep the bill down at the end of the night.

“You'd be surprised at how much that cuts down on the meal,” she said.

Olson-Lepage says she and her family are a “big camping family” and they will routinely pack snacks for the road to avoid picking them up at a gas station.

“We always pack a cooler, not just for the time that we're actually camping, but for the actual road trip itself,” she said.

If a trip involves multiple days to arrive at the destination, she suggests staying overnight with relatives if possible.

“Especially if you're planning a multi-province trip and you may not be able to make it all in one drive,” she said. “Maybe there's that possibility that you can also stop and visit some family along the way.”

To Olson-Lepage’s point, the Rakuten survey found just 35 per cent of respondents who intend to travel will do so internationally, indicating more people are looking to stay close to home this year.

For those who are looking to fly internationally, Patel adds that airlines offer the best deals well in advance, so booking early will help, while you should consider taking advantage of reward points.

“If you're travelling with someone, if that's something you want to do, sometimes you can share accommodation and that can help reduce costs,” she said.

“There are options and if you can't go somewhere, there's just a lot of wonderful things to do that are closer to home that won't break the bank.”

Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.