Summer officially started on June 20th – and after the year we’ve had, it’s time for some fun in the sun. I always love summer, but it hits different post-pandemic. Honestly, I don’t think the country has needed to let loose this badly since prohibition ended. But just because some social restrictions are lifting, doesn’t mean you should lift the restrictions on your wallet. Here are five money hacks for your hot girl/guy summer.
Domestic flights should peak on July 4 and international flights peaked at the end of June. Look ahead for the year and plan trips that you might have for birthdays or weddings. The restrictions on changing travel plans have eased up, so it’s better to change or cancel than be stuck with booking super expensive tickets last minute. But, my psychic finance senses are tingling and I do foresee change fees getting reinstated later this year, so book while the rules are still flexible. And when you do make those reservations, take screenshots of the cancellation policy that you’re given; just in case the cancellation policy changes between when you book and when you travel, I want you to have the receipts.
Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em
The time is now to cash in on your miles, points and travel vouchers. Because we weren’t paying in cash for the last year, we’ve probably all racked up a bunch of points. A general rule of thumb: 1 cent per point. $250 = 25,000 points. If you canceled a flight during the pandemic, look out for the “book by” and “travel by” dates. Call and ask for an extension now if you need them. Send yourself calendar reminders because there is nothing worse than missing out on getting rewards you were owed because you forgot.
If you’re planning a trip and need to do a little bit of shopping – don’t forget to swipe your FSA card! Sunscreen, aloe vera, bug bite lotion, contact solution, hand sanitizer, motion sickness meds, eye masks, allergy meds… aaaall FSA eligible. Go to fsastore.com and see where you could save big on the things you need to pack on your ultimate summer getaway.
Rent V. Buy
If you’re thinking about glamping or doing other outdoorsy stuff, you may be tempted to B-Y-O-fishing rod. Don’t do this. There’s a lot you can rent if this is a one-time thing (or you think it will be a regular thing but deep down you know it won’t be). Yeah, maybe you think you’re going to get super into mountain biking but… are you? Let’s just test it out before committing to a $2,000 price tag. Things like camping gear, kayaks, paddle boards, even power tools – all rentable.
Check Your Spending Plan
Before you hit the beach, sit down and go over your spending plan. I know… now that you can finally go outside and soak up the sun, going over your bank statements is the absolute last thing that you want to be doing, but it really is more important than ever to make sure you have your spending plan in check. Of course, you do deserve to treat yourself, but make sure those “treats” are not costing more than the 15% we dedicate to “extras” in our spending plan.
If you’ve been waiting all year to take a vacation, do it! Set up alerts on discount travel sites so you are the first to know when something is on sale but when it is, don’t dilly dally. These prices are going to spike, so you have to pounce! Just please don’t blow all the money you’ve saved in quarantine.
A version of this article was originally published on Forbes.