Summer Wish List: Can I Afford That?

Home improvements, a week at an Up North rental, the newest backyard BBQ…the list of seasonal “wants” is long this time of year.  So how do you know what you can actually afford without breaking the bank? 

The experts at CCF have tips to help evaluate your true “disposable income” and what to look for, expense-wise, when considering a summer wish list purchase. 

Evaluate your spending - You can’t get a true picture of your available income until you know exactly what’s coming in and where it’s going out.
    • Some of your disposable income could be going to waste on things like unnecessary or unused subscriptions or memberships - things often on auto payment/renewal. Did you sign up for a coffee-of-the-month box that is piling up in your cupboard? Cancel it and save those dollars instead.  
    • Log into Online or Mobile Banking for your debit and credit cards to review your monthly spending and see where you can save. Go line by line to evaluate what automatic payments are being deducted. Sometimes we forget about things until we see it on the bank statement.
    • Negotiate your monthly bills – car insurance, cable, cell phone…if you haven’t shopped around for the best price recently, now is the time. 
Make it personal – what we spend on is what we personally value. Sit down with your partner or family and see what matters to each of you.
    • If your family loves grilling out on the weekends, then buying a grill is a good investment in family time.
    • If re-doing that bathroom will add value to your home and works into your budget, then it’s a good investment in home improvement.
    • If money is tight and you can’t spend much, look at what you CAN do – clean and fix your existing grill instead of buying a brand new one, put on a fresh coat of paint and update the hardware instead of redoing the entire bathroom.
    • Make sure you have an emergency fund, though. If not, make it your priority before spending on non-essentials. 
Sometimes, you need to take the chance – it’s been a long year, and your family just might need that week up north to get out of the house. The important thing here, is balance. Taking a small trip or making that home improvement may be fine, as long as you don’t lose sight of your other financial goals.
    • Instead of using your credit card to finance a Summer Wish List item, consider a small personal loan – these loans are usually for smaller amounts up to $3,000 and have a set payback schedule. You will pay much less interest than financing with a credit card.
    • Are you getting a tax refund? You can also use those funds to fund your fun or pad your savings. 
Above all else, you need to be honest with yourself about your financial situation. After doing a review of what’s coming in and what’s going out alongside your financial goals, only you can decide if you’re in a position to fulfill some of those wish list items.