Author: Diane Stewart, Enable Outreach Specialist
Summer is a time to relax – there’s nothing better than sitting back, enjoying the sunshine and spending time with friends and family. One place to remain alert, however, is with your finances. Spending can often increase in the summer months, and forethought and planning are key tools to keep you on budget and worry-free. To help you coast through the summer, we’re sharing our top five strategies for smart summer spending:
1. Outline Your Summer Budget
Make sure to lay out your monthly budget at the beginning of the summer and factor in necessities such as rent, groceries and transportation. Divide any non-budgeted funds into two categories– savings and “fun”ds, which can be spent for fun summer activities. Keep track of all your expenses in a spreadsheet and revise your budget as needed.
2. Take Advantage of Discounts and Free Offers
Looking to plan an exciting day trip or activity? Reduced admission is available to many zoos, theme parks, aquariums, monuments, and national parks – for example, the America the Beautiful Access Pass offers free admission to more than 2,000 federal recreational sites. Explore discounted summer activity options online, and don’t forget to reach out to your local disability community for guidance. Many organizations offer low cost, family-friendly activities such as fairs, camping, and sporting events.
3. Be Environmentally Conscious
During the summer months, electric bills tend to spike. To help families conserve energy and money, the U.S. Department of Energy offers a Home Weatherization program that helps provide roof repairs, window replacements and other HVAC fixes—all free of charge for those who are eligible. For more information visit their website.
4. Be a Knowledgeable Traveler
With the proper resources, you can alleviate some of the built-in stresses of traveling. Before heading to the airport, train or bus station, confirm your accessibility needs with the organization or venue.
If you have a wheelchair or any other type of assistive devices, make sure to have copies of written instructions of assembly and care that you can provide to travel personnel. In addition, take pictures of your devices before they are secured by personnel to record their condition.
There are also discounted travel rates for individuals with disabilities, and in some instances, discounted fare packages can include up to one traveling companion. Call ahead or check online in advance to see what type of discounts you may be eligible for to help maximize your savings.
5. Get Tech-Savvy
There are many great resources that can provide support in everyday activities, put your mind at ease and even help you better navigate your finances. The Automatic Investment Plan (AIP), for example, helps automatically deposit funds into your Enable Alabama account, so that you never forget to contribute.
Planning to travel or visit new places this summer? Technology can help you avoid wasting any time or money on activities that are not accessible. There are several apps that can assist with everything from locating wheelchair-accessible restaurants to making stressful social situations a breeze. Consider downloading some of our favorites to help you better enjoy the dog days of summer.
- AccessNow: The AccessNow app shares information about the accessibility features of restaurants, hotels and stores around the world and in your local area to ensure your desired destination has any accommodations you might need.
- WheelMate: The WheelMate app assists with locating wheelchair-accessible toilets and parking spaces for individuals with disabilities.
- Miracle Modus: The Miracle Modus app helps decrease the severity of sensory overload to help soothe those with autism in stressful social situations.
What are some of your favorite summer activities in your community? Engage with us at (@EnableSavingsPlanAlabama) on Facebook and share your summer bucket list.