As vaccinations continue to rise and restrictions loosen, many Americans are feeling optimistic about the summer. A recent survey by COUNTRY Financial found a majority of Americans are feeling positive about their personal finances and are ready to spend. In fact, 64% are making big plans for the summer, including taking a vacation, making home upgrades and attending a live show, concert or sports event.

While many people struggled during the pandemic, the past year also led many people to change their saving and spending habits for the better. One in five Americans increased their savings in 2020 according to the survey. To keep up the positive savings behaviors, keep these tips in mind as you make your summer plans:

Emergency savings

If the last year taught us anything it was that you have to prepare for what can go wrong to gain the luxury to participate in what can go right. I love this phrase because it reminds me of the responsibility and financial duty I have to my family to make sure they will be taken care of in the worst circumstances. As we approach summer, it would be easy to throw off restraint and spend money we either don’t have or that is allocated for a higher purpose in order to be entertained.

When it comes to budgeting and saving for the future it’s pretty simple.

1) Spend less than you make.

2)Have an emergency fund available that would keep you financially afloat for at a minimum of 3 months but preferably 6 months.

3) Save up for the other future goals (vacation) so you can pay cash.

Keep a budget

You’ve heard it before but it’s worth the reminder. When you are planning a vacation or a remodel, create a budget and stick to it. Know how much you can afford to spend and plan your budget accordingly. Do your research to estimate the potential expenses as you create your budget. It’s a wise idea to plan for the unexpected as well as the known.  Overspending by $100 here and there can break the bank quickly. It’s better to have some money left over at the end of the trip or project, than have budgeted too little and have to dip into savings or go into debt.

Remember the 50-30-20 rule

One way to know how much you need to save is a simple question. How do you want to live your life after you retire and how much will that cost on a monthly basis? You can work backwards from there to plan. For an emergency fund, plan on three to six months’ worth of wages. One rule of thumb would be setting aside 50% of your income for what you truly need, about 30% for what you want to do in life including vacations and the rest, and 20% for your financial goals which would include retirement.

It’s okay to not feel ready to go back to a 100% pre-pandemic lifestyle, but as you do look to get out and enjoy more simple pleasures this summer or have some bigger splurges planned, just remember to stay safe and smart with your spending. If you keep up the good financial habits you’ve built up while hunkering in place, they will pay dividends in the long run.

Joshua Frey is a Financial Representative with COUNTRY Financial in Spokane, WA. He can be reached at Joshua.frey@countryfinancial.com.

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