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Home Cents

These lazy, hazy days of...spending Add to ...

Like all winter-weary Canadians, I am giddy with joy when summer finally rolls around. I want to dine on every patio, road-trip each weekend and splurge on strappy sandals.

I can't say exactly what it is about the warm weather that makes me want to spend with abandon, but I am certain it is linked to how fleeting, wonderful and, by extension, precious Canadians summers are.

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It turns out I am not alone in my seasonal desire to throw financial caution to the wind. Two-thirds of respondents to a recent Toronto-Dominion Canada Trust survey on summer spending said the weather makes them feel happier and more willing to spend money.

Sixty-four per cent said there are so many activities to enjoy in the summer they figure they'll make up the money in the colder months. What are people spending their money on? The survey found that 61 per cent of eat and drink out more often with friends in the summer while 60 per cent take more vacations.

Although it is hardly surprising to hear that people take more holidays - one look around most offices will confirm that - you don't often hear about post-summer financial hangover similar to the one many people experience after Christmas.

But the TD survey of 1,000, conducted online by Environics in late June, found that 50 per cent of Canadians have let their bill payments slip by the wayside as they enjoy the warm weather this year. Thirty-eight per cent have let their budgeting slide while 37 per cent have done the same with their savings.

Raymond Chun, senior vice president at TD Canada Trust, says that while summer is a great time to relax, it does not mean you should "take a vacation from your financial responsibilities."

"If you take a little time to plan ahead and tweak your budget in preparation for your summer spending, you can make the most of the warmer weather without compromising your savings plan."

Mr. Chun offers this mostly common-sense advice on how to enjoy this summer without compromising your savings:

Automate your financial responsibilities Set up pre-authorized transfers to your regular bills and minimum credit card repayments. That way you don't have to worry about interest and fees incurred on forgotten bills while you're out enjoying the summer sun.

Revisit your budget Calculate how much money you earn each month then subtract your expenses, like rent or mortgage repayments, food, utilities, insurance and credit card bills, to understand how much you really have left over. Subtract the amount you want to save every month, and only then do you have a true picture of what you have left for discretionary spending. If you are eating out more in the summer months, try to cut down on spending in other areas to make up the difference.

Don't get carried away with summer spending Look at ways to cut down on unnecessary expenses, but don't deprive yourself or it will be a tough budget to follow. Invite friends over for a backyard barbeque instead of frequenting restaurant patios regularly after work. Canada's summers are beautiful so it's tempting to splurge on summer accessories, but remember you may only get another two months out of a new pair of sandals or summer dress before the cooler weather starts rolling in.

Get any debts under control Review your unpaid bills and debt obligations. If you're low on cash and can't make all your payments then pay the minimum required. High interest debts like credit cards should take priority. At the end of the summer if you're still struggling with your repayments, then think about ways to consolidate and manage your debt.

Start planning now for your next seasonal splurge While enjoying the summer months can be fun, getting yourself into serious credit card debt is not. You need to break the cycle on how you pay for summer activities like vacations and eating out. Start putting aside money in advance for next year's holidays.



Roma Luciw is the web editor of the Globe Investor personal finance site and writes for the Home Cents blog.

Follow on Twitter: @RomaLuciw

 

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