Your long weekend doesn’t have to take you off course if you want to be debt free!
A debt-free long weekend sounds pretty easy – just don’t add to your debt with your long weekend spending. Even though it sounds simple, without a few budgeting hacks and savvy money-saving tips, it might not be easy for many people. Most families can identify with this scenario: take the kids to an event, everything at the event costs more than expected and by the time you leave you’ve spent more than you originally planned to. Our first question – did you create an effective budget plan for the event? With the Canada Day long weekend ahead, if you’re not sure how to do this, our first tip is for you.
Tip #1 – Summer budgeting is your top priority if you want to be debt free.
We get it, summer is supposed to be fun and relaxing. A fun and relaxing summer break isn’t going to really do its job of helping your feel good while you’re experiencing debt trouble. If money is tight, you owe yourself the time and effort needed to figure out why. You may have to make a few sacrifices. If your goal is to be debt free, saving money on Canada Day (or on any long weekend) should always be part of your budgeting plans. To get your money back on track and avoid debt trouble, here are three ways you can start to work on this over the long weekend.
First, practice event budgeting and carrying cash
Always set an “event budget” if you’re going out. Even if you are just heading to the park for some birthday fireworks this Canada Day, you should only bring the cash you’ll need. Budget for parking, admission, and any other event costs that are non-negotiable. Pack food and beverages to bring with you so that you don’t get hungry or thirsty and overspend on these things, (as per our next suggestion).
Second, skip the swag, concessions and souvenir shops
Skipping the swag items, concession foods/beverages and souvenirs while road-tripping or attending events can be hard. The merchants selling these items are doing everything they can to entice you to buy them. Your kids may see things and ask for them as well, but you’ve got to stand your ground and stick to the budget you’ve set. Explain to your children that in order for your family, you’re being wise and spending less money now. If you keep an open dialogue with children you can use every money moment as an opportunity to teach valuable lessons about budgeting.
Third, implement rewards-based systems for yourself and your family
If you’re keeping an open dialogue with your family about money and debt, you can also work together to achieve common goals. For example, a slice of pizza may cost up to 3 times the price at a sports venue. You can bargain with your pizza-loving family. Explain that you’ll be packing sandwiches for the Canada Day ball game you’re attending and skipping the over-priced venue pizza. As a reward, with the money you’ve saved, you can afford to pick up a walk-in special pizza for dinner on your way home from the game instead.
Tip #2 – Don’t underestimate the savings and fun you can have at home
When the party is in your backyard, your costs go down significantly. Consider having a stay-at-home celebration for Canada Day. Make sure your guests know that the event is “BYOB” – and you can even ask for “BYOBBQ” (guests can bring whatever they would like to grill on your barbecue and all you have to supply is the propane or coals). Avoid the temptation to spend money. Invite friends, family, neighbours and have a pot-luck dinner. The dollar store often stocks inexpensive party favours to celebrate Canada Day and other holidays. You can decorate on a dime, purchase sparklers, and grill to save on energy costs by cooking outdoors instead of using your kitchen. Not only will you remain on the path to be debt free, you’ll have fun while doing it!
Tip #3 – Don’t forget about FREE community events this Canada Day
Of all long weekends, Canada Day often takes the cake as the one with the most free events. Communities across the country plan free events to celebrate our nation’s birthday every year. Even if there isn’t much going on at home, there might be something really great happening close by. If the drive is short it won’t cost much to gas up and have an out-of-town adventure. Short road trips can be budget-savvy opportunities too!
Here are a few ways to find community events and free activities for your family this weekend:
- Visit your municipal website and check the municipal events calendar. For example, in Toronto, you can find out what’s going on by visiting this page.
- Check social media and websites of local news sources. Your local news will likely have a write up on the free events offered in your area. In Vancouver, you may find this helpful list useful.
- Ask your friends, colleagues and family members what they’re planning. Someone in your existing circle may have a great suggestion for you.
- Check community boards at your local visitor’s centre (if your town has a tourism centre). You can also check local grocery store boards, churches and apartment building boards. Sometimes you will find an event poster advertising upcoming free community events.
Your community will likely be thriving during the long weekend (especially the Canada Day long weekend). Budget wisely and join other community members in celebrating for free. At a free event you may be treated to complimentary entertainment (live bands, demonstrations, theatre in the park, buskers). Some events will have fireworks and/or free birthday cake. For the kids, games and activities will likely be free or inexpensive and some festivals/celebrations will offer free face painting. If you’re already going to be at the park, it costs nothing to hit the beach and go for a free swim.
Get the debt help you need to be debt free all year
If you are worried about debt, hoping to avoid bankruptcy or considering a consumer proposal get help. A qualified professional can review your debt problem and explain all of your debt free options. Summer budgeting is an important part of your plan to be debt free. If you’ve already got a lot of debt, let’s clear that up and put good budgeting into practice. A Spergel Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help you to become more budget-savvy on Canada Day and all throughout the year. You owe it to yourself to celebrate wisely and to fulfill your goal to be debt free. Happy Canada Day from the Spergel family. We hope that you make the choice to discover how good debt freedom feels this summer!