9 Dumb Ways You're Going to Waste Money This Summer


There are a lot of great things about summer: long days, warm weather, and vacation season for families to do things together. But summer presents some unique opportunities to waste money. How many of these summer money hazards will leave you wondering where all your cash went? (See also: 7 Surprising Ways Summer Will Cost You)

1. Junk Food

It seems like summer is junk food season. Soda, chips, hot dogs, and ice cream are everywhere! If you go out for ice cream a few nights a week, this can quickly add up — as well as adding extra pounds. I remember when I was younger, I would get a 32 oz soda refill or other sugary drink at least once every day during the summer. Now I try to limit junk food for special treats instead of making it my regular summer diet plan. You'll be healthier and keep more of your money in your pocket by limiting your spending on junk this summer.

2. Air Conditioning

Sometimes on a pleasant evening or cool morning, I can hear the air conditioners running at many houses on my street. Once you get your windows closed and your A/C turned on, it is easy to leave it that way all summer. I try to leave the A/C off and windows open as much as I can. Using fans to move the fresh air around, I can often stay comfortable without running the air conditioning. It is expensive to keep your house like an icebox all summer, and keeping your windows closed isolates you from fresh air and the pleasant sound of birds chirping in the morning.

3. Driving Around

For some reason, people seem to spend a lot of time in their cars during summer. An air-conditioned car can be a comfortable place to be, but it costs a lot of money to drive around or even to run the A/C while parked. Sometimes going for a drive for something to do or to cool off ends up leading to a junk food purchase, adding to the expense of going for a drive. Instead of going for a drive to cool off, I like to relax in a lawn chair in a shady spot or sit outside after the sun goes down and the air cools down.

4. Movie Theaters

Another escape from summer heat and boredom is going to a cold movie theater for a few hours. This is even more expensive than going for a drive. The movie ticket price is often just the beginning of the cost of going to the movie theater. Many people buy popcorn and snacks, and it is easy to end up eating at a restaurant while you are out for a long activity like going to a movie.

Movie theaters are often attached to shopping malls, making it easy to walk around the air-conditioned mall before or after the movie and spend even more money. I don't mind going to see a summer blockbuster if there is a good one, but going to a movie once or twice a week is going to make your money evaporate.

5. Vacation

It seems like so much time and money are spent to travel far away from home for a vacation. Is what you are looking to find on vacation really that far away from home? Sure, it's nice to see different places and experience new things, but the most important part of a vacation is to spend time with people you care about. Is hustling around airports and moving from one tourist trap to another at an expensive vacation spot the best way to spend quality time together? Instead of spending big bucks to travel somewhere, I would rather spend time with my family at home doing projects and working on things together.

6. Summer Living Gear

Stores are happy to offer you ways that you can buy a great summer experience. How about some new patio furniture, lawn chairs, a sun shade, or even a new grill or lawn mower? Don't forget some brightly colored new summer clothes to wear while you are using your new summer stuff. You don't want to miss out on summer fun, so you'd better buy the required summer gear to make sure you have a great summer...

Think back to a great summer event or summer memory that you have. Now, can you even remember what kind of chair you sat in or what clothes you were wearing? Chances are that it doesn't matter. You can't buy a great summer experience by spending a lot of money at the store.

7. Pampered Lawn

I get a lot of flyers in the mail offering to make my lawn look great. With a little fertilizer and weed control, I'm sure my lawn could look more like green carpet. Not only do I get lawn improvement offers in the mail, but I even got one in person. My neighbor offered to let me use his giant lawn tractor and sprayer if I would buy chemicals to apply. It would be easy to spend hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars in pursuit of a more perfect lawn.

I think my lawn looks fine as long as I keep it mowed neatly. I don't like the idea of spraying chemicals on it, and I don't really mind if my lawn is a bit more natural than the lawns you see on TV. My dogs do a great job of fertilizing my lawn for free. (See also: How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally)

8. Big Summer Toys

It is easy to get swept up by the appeal of a fun summer toy that the entire family could enjoy. Wouldn't it be great to have an RV, camper, boat, jet ski, swimming pool, or new bikes? You could get the toys right now to enjoy this summer and make the payments later. Some of these toys might fit on a credit card you already have, but if not you can sign up for a new loan and make easy payments. Don't forget to pick up a truck with towing gear for some of these big toys.

One problem with big summer toys is that you can only use them during the summer, but you will be paying for them all year long for many years. Plus, you may need to find somewhere to store your big toys when the summer season is over. What seemed like a great idea on a nice July day might seem like a dumb move only a few months later.

9. Expensive Summer Activities

Taking on expensive summer projects is a weakness for me. I would rather do something productive than relax, but it usually costs a lot of money to do projects. Projects such as landscaping or building a storage shed or playhouse are expensive and do not usually provide a good return on investment. A good way to work on an interesting project for free is to help someone else do a project at their house.

Some people like to relax during the summer, but this can still be expensive. Golf comes to mind as an expensive summer activity with all of the gear and membership fees that are required to play. Other expensive activities include some summer camps, sports camps, amusement parks, and horse riding lessons. If you check around, you might be able to find some affordable activities that are conveniently located close to home to keep your family entertained instead of spending a lot on more expensive activities.

What are some dumb ways that you waste money in the summer? Share with us!

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