Summer is here, and as temperatures soar, minds begin to fill up with thoughts of holidays and time off. These thoughts are not always just about sun, sea, and sand, however. It’s also common to start wondering about your summer budget and questioning how much you might spend this season.
For many people, money is one of the most worrying aspects of summer. Money worries can take a huge toll, leading to a range of different emotions including low mood, anxiety, and stress. Fears over finances can become all consuming, and what makes it worse is the fact that many people feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about their financial concerns with friends or family.
So how much do we actually spend?
It’s estimated that UK parents splash out a collective £6.2 million on entertaining their children during the summer months. Festival season is believed to cost individuals an average of £450 each a year. And summer stag and hen dos leave people around £500 out of pocket.
Social pressure can play a major role in these financial worries. Many people feel that they must spend in order to keep up socially; for fear of missing out or upsetting friends; or because they feel guilty about letting their children down.
So, what can you do practically and emotionally to cope with summer spending?
Seems obvious right? But it is astonishing how few people plan for what is a predictable increase in their spending. Try to carve out an hour or two, to see how much money you can spend over summer, and work out what your priorities are. Even if you don’t stick to the plan later on, you will still know your position.
If your bills are scattered all over the house and your paperwork is a mess, you are more likely to feel out of control of your finances. Keep all your documents in one place, where you can access them easily.
When you have bills coming out of your account left right and centre and you need to find extra money for summer childcare, it’s easy to feel out of control. Keeping a diary can help you regain a sense of control. Write down everything you spend. Plus, make a note of your mood at the time of your spending, as this can help you understand more about your spending habits.
Ideally, the diary should be done daily, at the beginning or end of the day, and should not take more than five or 10 minutes. Of course, our schedules are different, and sometimes these five minutes are impossible to find, so do it when you can, but at least once a week.
It may be tempting to hide that electric bill under the fruit bowl while you try to struggle through the expensive summer months. If you’re feeling the pinch, though, the best thing you can do is seek advice on managing your budget and any debts you might have. Acting early might mean just stopping to re-evaluate if all your summer plans are still realistic and doable. Maybe you have to miss your friend’s 50th weekend celebration, or your kids can’t go to tennis camp anymore, or maybe you will need to wear an old dress to your cousin’s wedding. Everyone’s finances and obligations are different and will be dependent on a combination of income, outgoings, and social expectations.
In a lot of our blogs, we write about maintaining your exercise habits and your routine through difficult and stressful periods. That’s because it is very easy to let these slide, and they are important factors to help keep you grounded, lift your mood, and help you feel a sense of constancy.
If the situation with money is getting out of hand, talk to your partner or family. Talking about money worries isn’t easy, but communication with loved ones is essential so you do not feel alone. If you are struggling, it can help to treat the talks like a business meeting, take turns to speak, and work together on a plan for the future.
You may notice that your spending is getting out of hand, or the social pressure to do certain things is stifling, if that is the case, you might benefit from talking to counsellor or psychotherapist. The focus of sessions depends on your needs and circumstances; it can be on spending difficulties, over-spending, figuring out priorities, family expectations, planning with kids, or social expectations and anxieties.
For advice on how to deal with summer stress including money worries, call to book a session with one of our therapists on 0207 467 8548.