Summer is a time when we tend to slow down, take vacations and our motivation often takes a holiday. This season might have something to do with the school calendar from when we were young. We would spend all year in school, until summer came. And when it did, responsibility went out the window, it was time to kick back and enjoy life, kid style! So how can you stay on track during this slow season?
Somehow that early training gets carried into our adult lives — even throughout our lives. When summer comes, it’s something like a natural break in the year.
It’s a time when we lose not only some intensity, but probably a good bit of motivation too. But when it comes to finances, summer can also take a toll.
The Markets Don’t Take a Summer Vacation
The famous Wall Street saying is sell in May, then go away. Maybe that would work if in fact you did actually sell — as in sell everything. But few investors do that, so it’s likely that the saying describes a mindset more than an actual practice.
The fact is, the markets don’t go on summer vacation just because you do. Developments continue to happen both in the markets, and throughout the world in a way that can affect the markets. It’s even worth noting that summer isn’t even happening right now in the southern hemisphere! This means that markets will continue to rise and fall, good news and bad news will come without warning, and some of your investments may even go sour during the summer months while you’re doing other things.
While you may pull back a bit on your investing activities, be sure to monitor the situation throughout the summer including, and especially, if you are away on vacation.
Don’t Get Carried Away With Summer Spending
From a financial standpoint, summer can pose certain problems. Taking a summer vacation can put a dent in your finances, even if you have carefully planned and saved for your trip throughout the year. The reason this can happen is because it’s very easy to go over budget when you’re away from home and having a good time. A $5,000 vacation can easily turn into $7,000 if you get carried away. Going away on vacation is never a good reason for breaking your budget.
As well, the warm weather can also cause you to spend more money than you normally do. It tends to draw you out of the house, and often to places where you might spend money. For example, if it’s too hot you might simply decide to head to a restaurant for dinner rather than cooking at home. If there’s a lake or beach nearby, you may find yourself spending most weekends there.
Summer is an easy time to let go of even the best financial plans, and that’s why it’s also a time when you have to be especially careful. The last thing you want to do is to carry debt into the fall that you accumulated during the summer months.
Continue Funding Your Investment Goals
The flipside of overspending during the summer months is that you might try to make up for it by cutting back or even eliminating funding your investments. It’s important to understand that summertime activities are short-term in nature, while investing is long-term. Any funds you’re not investing right now is money you will not have in future years — plus accumulated investment earnings!
Live a little during the summer, but don’t lose track of your long-term plan to fund your investments. Look at it this way: The bigger your investment portfolio is, the more money you will have for future summer vacations. That should keep your motivation high.
Refocus Your Financial Goals
Since it’s so easy to get distracted by summertime activities, you should be purposeful about refocusing on your financial goals. In fact, you should use the summer months as a welcome break to recharge your mental and emotional batteries, and to prepare yourself to get ready for the next push forward that will begin sometime after Labor Day.
Take the time this summer to clear your mind, to reaffirm your goals, and to develop a few new ones. Plan to read at least one good financial book to give you some new ideas and insights on exactly what you can do. If you can enjoy the summer months — and emerge from them with an even better financial plan than the one you had in the spring — then the summer will be a double win.
Get Back on Track When Summer Ends
Summer will come to an end in a few weeks, and when it does you should be ready to hit the ground running. You’ve relaxed and enjoyed the warm weather, so you should have the energy and focus that you need to move your plans forward.
Make workable plans now — even commit them to writing — that way you will have an agenda when the business new year starts after Labor Day. This can be an excellent time to plan to change careers, start a business, begin a debt payoff plan, or revamp your investment portfolio. You can map out your strategy now that way you will have a to-do list waiting for you in the fall — and all you’ll have to do then is go through the steps.
Enjoy your summer, but use it constructively. Refresh your mind and your body, and make your plans now while you don’t have the stress of needing to carry them out. But remember to use this recharging time to get back on track when summer ends.