Canadian summer seems to be finally on the horizon, and you know what that means!
Pool parties, barbecues, and lots of money spent doing all the fun things we couldn’t do when we were confined to our cozy abodes all winter.
While winter is reportedly the season when Canadians spend the most money, summer is time for family vacations, additional childcare costs when school is closed, and home maintenance projects, in addition to other causes for inflated activity budgets.
According to the latest Annual Summer Spending Survey from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), 31 percent of Canadians anticipate stress due to upcoming seasonal expenses.
To alleviate some of the stress, here are some ways to curb your spending when all you want to do is have some summertime fun.
When food is life…
Sure, you may be a foodie all-year-round, but something about warm weather and open patios makes going out to eat all that more appealing.
We can give you basic advice on how to save (drink water, look for happy hours and deals, stick to a budget, etc.), but we know when it comes to eating out, sometimes we like to indulge a bit more than usual.
So, instead, why not reward yourself for your inevitable restaurant spending?
The American Express Cobalt™ Credit Card offers five times the rewards points for purchases at eligible restaurants and bars. The $120 annual fee is payable in monthly increments of $10, making month-to-month budgeting easier too! Also, in the first year of card membership, you receive 2,500 bonus points per month, provided you spend at least $500 a month. And since there are almost no restrictions on eligible purchases, this is an attainable target. Points can be redeemed for travel, concert tickets, gift cards, merchandise, and more.
When farmers markets are life…
Supporting local feels great, but sometimes that fresh produce, those pastries or those handmade Tchotchkes may be a bit overpriced in comparison to your normal grocery budget. While this is understandable, here are a few ways to save while still supporting homegrown.
- Know your produce. Fruits and veggies that are in season and in abundance will be lower in price, since all vendors will be selling them. To find out which items are in season, you can easily do your research online. Also, look for any “ugly” vegetables that may not look like the norm, but are still just as good. Vendors may mark down misshaped produce as people typically favour the “pretty” fruits and veggies. And lastly, know how to determine if something is ripe to avoid wasting money on fruits and veggies that will rot soon.
- Pay in cash. Some vendors may offer you the option to pay with card, but it may be easier to haggle when using small bills and change.
- Keep an open mind. It’s generally a good idea to plan out your meals in advance and make a grocery list with specifics to avoid spending excessively. But at a farmers market, you may end up spending more than anticipated if you stick to specifics, since you don’t have brand options like you do at a big box supermarket. If you planned on cooking zucchini, maybe opt for squash or eggplant instead if it works out to be cheaper, or substitute strawberries for blueberries or raspberries. And make sure you walk around to compare prices from different vendors.
- Go right before closing or on cold and rainy days. Vendors may mark down items due to low traffic or just to get rid of product before they leave.
When travelling is life…
The CPA Canada survey also found 38 percent of Canadians said they expect to spend more on vacations and travel this year in comparison to last year. And while the average vacation spend was reported at $3,226, 12 percent of those who are planning vacations said they foresee themselves spending more than $5,000.
To pay for their holidays, 16 percent said they intend on borrowing money, with most opting to use a credit card (79 percent) and/or a line of credit (28 percent).
If you want to hop on a flight this summer, you may want to apply for a travel rewards credit card with a sign-up bonus (summer is right around the corner and you may want access to those rewards sooner, rather than later).
The RBC Visa Infinite‡ Avion® comes with no annual fee for the first year ($129 after that), along with 15,000 RBC Reward points upon approval. And the best part about the RBC Reward program is that you can redeem your points for travel bookings, with no black-out periods or airline-specific restrictions.
Also, this card provides you with savings on travel insurance, as it comes with medical and accident insurance in case you get sick or injured while abroad, auto rental collision insurance, flight delay insurance, lost luggage insurance and hotel/motel burglary insurance.
Need other ways to save on last-minute vacations? Try travelling mid-week. You may save more by travelling on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday since people tend to book weekend departures. Also, be flexible with your destination. If you’re looking for specific accommodations at a specific location, you may be disappointed in the last-minute options. The cheapest last-minute offers may be for destinations you’ve never heard of before or they may not be all-inclusive – but with an open-mind, they could still be just as fun or relaxing.
Optionally, if you want to keep it local by heading to cottage country this summer, start saving from the moment you hit the road with a good gas rewards credit card.
The CPA Canada survey also revealed that 57 percent of Canadians were very concerned about increases in transportation fuel costs.
The Scotia Momentum® Visa Infinite* Card is a great cash-back option and it also won Best Card for Gas Rewards this year at our Best of Finance Awards. You get four percent cash-back on all gas station and grocery store purchases – and for a limited time, you can get 10 percent cash-back on all purchases in the first three months of card membership too!
The first year’s annual fee is waived, and $99 after that. Cash-back earned is applied to your account as a credit on an annual basis, giving you the freedom to use your rewards however you so please.
When festivals are life…
If live performances are your thing and you’re on the constant look out for circuit announcements, you probably already have tickets to the next festival with a crazy name.
Festival tickets can get pricey, but depending on the lineup, it may be somewhat worth the cost, rather than buying tickets to each artist or band’s performance.
So how does one save money without souring the experience?
- Buy your tickets early. Since most festivals have graduated ticket pricing, the earlier you buy the ticket, the cheaper it is.
- Bring enough cash to last you through the day(s) so you don’t have to go to an ATM and pay ridiculous fees to make a withdrawal.
- If you want to buy merch, wait until the final day of the festival to do it. By the last day, you’ll know how much money you have left to spend, and some vendors may mark down their items to sell out their inventory.
- Bring your own food and beverages if possible. And this may be a stretch for some, but keep your thirst quenched with water and limit your alcohol consumption to avoid inflated festival vendor prices.
When the nightlife is life…
For some, going to the club is a hard sell during Canadian winters. Who wants to wait in lines in -20 degree weather?
During the summer, however, nightlife may seem a bit more enticing. But before you go spending money on cover charges and overpriced drinks, here are a few ways to cut corners.
- Pre-party at home if you plan on drinking. If you’ve ever been to a club before, you already know the mark-up on alcohol can be ridiculous in comparison to grocery prices. So, if you have time, have a drink or two to get a slight buzz before you call your cab.
- Get there early. The party may be a bit emptier, but at least you can avoid the long lines and cover charges if you get there before 11pm!
- Bring lots of friends. While some people feel comfortable in large crowds of party-goers, others may rely a bit on liquid courage. Being with a bunch of familiar faces, though, may ease the social anxiety so you don’t spend as much on drinks. Just ensure you choose the right set of friends so you can all enjoy the night responsibly. Having a group also means you can split costs like bottle service and the cab rides back home.