Data from recent months shows that spending is up across the board, with the restaurant, travel, and retail industries getting an extra boost as US consumers return to pre-Covid nonessentials. And we’ve earned a little luxury: despite the economic turmoil, Americans still managed to save more than $1.7 trillion during the pandemic. But as tempting as that five-star Tahitian resort might be, post-pandemic summer spending shouldn’t wreck your monthly budget or longer-term financial goals.
So go ahead and have a little fun — just keep these tips for smarter spending (and splurging!) in mind:
Review your discretionary spending — and how it changed.
You probably saved on happy hours and haircuts during the pandemic. But did you take on any new nonessential expenses?
Discretionary expenses that fit comfortably into your budget over the last sixteen months — be it extra streaming services, virtual fitness subscriptions, or your newfound passion for homemade sourdough — could become troublesome as you start spending more on in-person entertainment, travel, and personal services.
Before you treat yourself this summer, make sure to sync newer discretionary spending with any pre-pandemic ‘extras’ you want to pick back up.
Going all out is fun every once in a while. But a summer filled with back-to-back pricey plans could be detrimental to your financial health.
If you’re feeling tempted to upgrade your hotel room or splurge on those front-row concert seats, remember that spending more money doesn’t mean having more fun. Keep an eye on your budget when booking trips and tickets, and pepper your social calendar with low-cost (or free!) local events, nature excursions, and backyard get-togethers to save cash — and have a great time — in between more expensive plans.
Bonus Tip: Turn vacations, baseball games, and pool floaties into cash back for your student loan debt when you use Giveback to shop and book online at hundreds of brands and services like Hotwire, Vivid Seats, and Walmart. Start earning cash back for free now.
Make sure you’re set up for the next rainy day.
The pandemic proved that anything can happen. And if anything can happen, anything bad can happen, too.
From an unsteady economy to the looming threat of Jurassic Park IRL, there are plenty of potential catalysts for another global crisis. You may not be able to control or predict when the next disaster will strike, but you can prepare for it — starting with an emergency fund.
Even though you may be more inclined to spend than save in the post-pandemic boom, do future you a favor and take an honest look at your emergency savings. If you wouldn’t be able to cover essential costs — including housing, food, medical expenses, child care, and pet supplies — for three to six months if the worst happened, it’s time to start setting cash aside.
Don’t forget to factor in student loan payments.
Something big is coming at the end of the summer — and we don’t mean the return of pumpkin spice lattes.
The federal student loan payment freeze is set to end after September 30. For the 42.9 million Americans with federal student loan debt, that means resuming payments — often totaling hundreds to thousands of dollars — each month.
If you want to avoid feeling the sting of the added expense in October, getting ready now is key. Take time in between applying and reapplying sunscreen to review your student loan status, explore ways to lower your monthly payment, and check your eligibility for forgiveness programs. Proactively planning a smarter repayment strategy will reduce the stress of student loan payments come fall — and it might just free up some extra cash for summer spending.
Bonus Tip: Not sure where to get started? Log in to FutureFuel.io (or create a free account today) to review federal repayment plans, find forgiveness programs, compare prequalified refinancing options, and unlock tools to speed up your paydown — all in one place and all curated just for you.