July has kicked off, and summer is well on its way. But this month is a great time to check in with your summer budget.
You can curb spending on utilities, travel, summer apparel, and outdoor gear. Two holidays this month also could mean more opportunities to check up on your loved ones’ finances, as well, and offer support as they work toward goals.
It’s important to plan for summer fun, and managing your finances is part of that. Here are five moves you should make with your money in July.
1. Book last-minute summer travel
If you’ve put off booking a summer trip because of high prices, your wait might have been worth it. Take airfare, for example. The average July and August prices are expected to be up to $30 cheaper than those in June, according to travel pricing app Hopper.
Keep your eyes peeled for stellar deals, and you could book a summer vacation at a bargain. From July onward, travel sites, hotels, and airlines will offer steep discounts on last-minute travel.
Watch sites such as Groupon, Travelocity, or Expedia through the end of the summer to catch promotions with big price drops. Expedia recently offered a free flight with the purchase of certain vacation packages, for instance. Hotels.com offered up to 40% off for travelers booking last-minute July Fourth travel.
2. Shop for discounted clothes and outdoor gear
Keep an eye out for deals by clothing and outdoor gear retailers. As stores prep for the back-to-school season, they’ll soon start to clear out their summer stock, according to DealNews, which tracks online sales. Watch for 30% to 50% off deals on the clearance rack, too.
Outdoor gear, along with seasonal clothes, could be available at deep discounts even after July Fourth. You could upgrade your apparel and equipment for hiking, fishing, camping, and more by keeping tabs on retailers such as Backcountry, REI, and Walmart. You probably can find a deal this month to match any outdoor summer activities you enjoy.
3. Curb your cooling costs
As the summer heat rises to scorching temperatures, you’ll want to consider tackling your cooling costs. Start by changing home air filters and getting your air conditioner serviced, which should be done about once per year. Consider other home improvements to cool your home more efficiently, such as sealing air ducts, insulating your attic, or planting shade trees outside your house.
If you rent or don’t want to take on home renovation, you can make simple changes to lower your utility bills.
Keep your thermostat set on the warmer end, at around 78 degrees.
Use fans to cool occupied areas of your home more efficiently.
Keep blinds closed during the day to prevent unwanted heat coming through your windows.
Avoid using heat-producing appliances, such as your dryer or oven, during the day. Or use them during the cooler parts of the day.
Taking action now to make your home cooler and more energy-efficient can help you stay comfortable through the hottest months of the year — without increasing costs.
4. Review your 2018 tax situation
The 2018 tax year has brought a lot of changes, thanks to the new rules set by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. On top of that, tax changes in 10 states that took effect at the beginning of this month could raise prices for many consumers.
Understanding your tax situation is the best way to take advantage of tax breaks while staying on the right side of the law. Here’s what to do to review your taxes and keep them on track this year.
- Review state and local tax changes to see if you’re affected so that you can account for these changes in your budget.
- The IRS released updated tax forms with some significant changes at the end of June. Reviewing the forms can help you avoid being caught by surprise when filing a 2018 tax return, as well as plan ahead for this filing season.
- Adjust your W-4 withholdings to ensure you’re not overpaying or underpaying under the new federal rules. The updated IRS withholding calculator can help you determine the right amount. If you’re self-employed, review your first two filings of estimated taxes to make sure you’ve paid enough under the new rules.
- Plan for new retirement account contribution limits and rules on deductions. The new tax bill has changed the rules on mortgage interest deduction, state and local taxes deductions, and more. There also are higher contribution limits this year for certain types of retirement accounts. Reading up on these changes now will give you time to make any moves that could maximize your tax savings.
5. Check in on your parents’ finances
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have passed, but Parents’ Day is on the fourth Sunday in July. It could be the perfect time to check in on your parents’ finances.
Talking about money issues with your parents isn’t easy, but it’s central to securing their financial stability. Ask your parents if they feel financially secure, both in the present and while thinking about the future. This conversation can help you figure out if your parents could use financial support, and what form that could take. You also can clarify your willingness and ability to help.
If you’re likely to need to support your parents at some point, this month would be a good time to set and work on a plan to do so. Reviewing your budget can help you find some extra money that could be reallocated to help your parents, should they need it. If your parents don’t need help yet, you can start saving toward a contingency fund should they face financial hardship or a decline in health.
Lastly, parents should consider how they can make themselves more financially secure to protect their children. Check in on your own finances. There are many money moves that can protect your family, such as saving money in an emergency fund, having sufficient life insurance, and keeping the household budget under control. A well-funded retirement account also will ensure that your kids won’t have to support you financially in your late life.
Taking time out of your busy summer schedule to manage your money isn’t easy. But if you play your cards right, making the right moves with your money can mean a better summer now — and healthier finances through the rest of the year.
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Upgrade Bank Disclosures
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