10 Sep 2020 • 5mins • Fonk

Three things that burn through summer budgets

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Is your summer budget feeling the heat? Take a look at our top insights for happy spending this summer.

Summer’s in full swing and we couldn’t be happier. After all, it’s the season of weddings, festivals, patio bars, and annual leave! But while all that summer revelry might be great for the soul, it comes with a big price tag. And that’s before we factor-in the day-to-day seasonal necessities or other less than soul-quenching summer expenditures that add up throughout the months, from home renovations to added childcare costs.

But whether your summer budget is going to family costs, seasonal celebrations or travel, June through September is widely perceived as the most costly season. A survey by Ezonomics found that 55% of UK respondents consider summer the most expensive time of the year, straining their budgets with even greater ferocity than winter’s heating and Christmas-fueled spending.

This might seem surprising to some, but when you take a look at the numbers, the demands of summer quickly add up. Families are some of the hardest hit, with parents putting away nearly £750 in holiday childcare costs – per child. For those in their 30s, wedding season may be the biggest culprit. The average wedding guest will find themselves £430 out of pocket per wedding this summer– those gifts, hats, travel, and accommodation add up! For members of the bridal party, you can expect to ramp that up to a whopping £695.

So, at this point, you might be thinking to yourself: “Well, there’s not much I can do to keep my summer budgets under wrap, then. A wedding’s a wedding, and you need childcare for kids.” But the reality is that the annual surge in summer spending is influenced by myriad factors, many of which affect our spending habits in sneaky, subconscious ways.

Hopefully, with a little insight into the various factors that influence our summer spending, you can take better control of your budgets this summer season.

Three insights that might be affecting your summer spending and a top tip to tackle it

1. Here comes the sun – for your wallet

After the economy, the weather wields one of the strongest influences over our spending habits – and retailers know this. So, we may enter our local supermarkets with all the greatest intentions – killer budgets or shopping lists in tow – but as soon as we see those jewel-like towers of strawberry punnets, ice-cold beers, and cornettos lining the aisles, our brains are triggered into emotional spend mode.

Spending more on summery snacks might seem obvious, but these subconscious drivers aren’t even limited to seasonal products. A 2015 study explored the significant positive effect daylight plays on everything from stock returns to art sales. On the flip side, you also might be more inclined to validate a splurge on a pricey theatre ticket or other indoor activity if your summer plans have been dashed by rain.

Top takeaway: If you’re really feeling tempted by a big expenditure this summer, give it a day or two and see how you feel to make sure you’re not being impacted by weather – or other subconscious influences. In other words, wait and see if a swimming pool is still on your ‘must have’ list even when you’re browsing properties on a rainy day!

2. Holiday (under)budgeting

Summer is the season of holidays, and while we’d never say no to a vacation here at Yolt (we do have a budget category for it, after all), it’s worth considering the many inconspicuous ways our holiday budgets can slip into overdrive. In 2016, UK residents spent £43.8 billion on visits overseas alone. When you pair these numbers with the latest research by ATOL, the holiday protection scheme, it would seem those numbers represent a less than ideal reality when compared to our actual holiday budgets. In fact, ATOL found that 61% of UK holidaymakers report struggling with their budgets while on holiday, and the average family of four overspends by £536.80 every vacation.

And while these hidden expenses include everything from unexpected parking charges to that cheeky extra cocktail, they don’t take into account the time and money that goes into a holiday before you take off. A 2015 study by Debenhams found that the average woman actually spends £197 on holiday preparations before her vacation even starts, with the top 7% spending over £400!

Top takeaway: When you’re creating your next holiday budget, take the time to factor in a ‘buffer budget’ for unexpected expenses – that could be anything from having to book a new hotel room to splashing out on an impromptu treat. If you really want to stay on track, make sure you consider any pre-holiday expenses, too, so your holiday budget doesn’t trickle into your savings.

3. The fear of missing out and lifestyle inflation

With all of those aforementioned holidays, weddings, and patio parties not only in our own diaries, but those of our friends (and their Instagram feeds), it can be a real challenge not to let the fun and revelry take over. Even with the most meticulous, rationally-thought out budget in hand, it can be difficult not to succumb to lifestyle inflation, that tempting, and often gradual, inclination to spend above our means.

This can be especially tricky in the summer months when we see someone splashing out on a friend’s upcoming wedding registry or when we’re pressured into a few extra cocktails on what was supposed to be an easy-going night out.

Top takeaway: Don’t be afraid to say no – to yourself or your friends. Being honest about money with ourselves is tricky enough without bringing friends and family into the mix. But sometimes being open is the best approach, whether it’s how much you can really spend on that wedding gift or an extra cocktail.