7 surprising ways summer will cost you
We all know that summer comes with expenses — higher-priced fuel fill-ups, increased electricity bills from running the A/C nonstop (mine doesn't get a rest from, like, March to October; thank you, first-world luxuries), and sky-high hotel rates. But there are other items that see an uptick during vacation season that you might not immediately recognize. Here's a list to watch with your wallet.
1. Bottled Water
We loooove to wag our fingers at others for buying bottled water — because get a reusable bottle already! — but we also understand that sometimes it's necessary. Like when it's hot as lava outside and you're about to have a heat stroke because you forgot your reusable bottle at home. While it may seem innocuous enough to pick up a bottle at your local convenience store now and then, that's not usually how it goes down — especially if you have kids.
According to money-saving expert Nedalee Thomas, who also happens to be CEO of a water-filtration company, a family of four will spend a whopping $1,600 on bottled water a year. Uh, come again?
"Consumption is higher in the summer just because of heat and dehydration, but families tend to buy more bottled water when heading out for the day's activities, spending on average $12 a day for a family of four," Thomas says. "Theme parks and many venues cost much more."
The best way to save — if you haven't already heard it a million times — is to refill BPA-free bottles with your own good filtered water."
Chanson Water USA provides a comparison chart of annual costs of various types of bottled water versus what it costs to filter your own water at home, and it's a doozy.
2. Iced Coffee
Drinking more iced coffee during the summer to give yourself a jolt and beat the heat? Well, it's gonna cost you.
Grub Street did some digging a few years back to find out why iced coffee costs more than hot coffee, and their findings may make your temperature rise. Save yourself some gas on a trip to the java joint, and pocket the extra money you'd be spending on each cup of cold joe, by making your own watered-down pick-me-up at home.
Compare the price of coffee at 10 major chains below:
3. Car Maintenance
Another unexpected way summer will cost you extra money is through car maintenance.
"Many dealers and mechanics want to service cars more frequently than the manufacturer recommends, especially during weather transitions, which is both unnecessary and costly," says car expert Richard Reina. "While hot weather absolutely takes a toll on our vehicles, the best way to cut these costs is taking proper precautions and doing the simple repairs yourself."
He offers a few DIY ways to avoid the mechanic this summer.
- Replace wiper blades: A winter's worth of clearing slush and ice from the windshield takes its toll, resulting in streaking and chattering that you don't want in spring/summer downpours as it could severely hinder your vision and cause an accident.
- Check coolant hoses and belts: It's also important to check coolant hoses and belts for deterioration and wear, and be sure to check all fluid levels. Just as you checked your antifreeze to make sure the freezing point was well below anticipated winter temperatures, check it now to ensure you won't have a boil over during hot summer driving. By performing this basic auto tuneup yourself, you would save $250, as it only costs $100 to DIY compared to a dealer cost of $350.
- Test your battery: As much as the winter is harsh on batteries, summer is, too, with the constant running of the cooling fans and the pull on your alternator from driving with the windows down. Test the battery to make sure you don't get stranded with a no-start on a summer trip. Check the battery connections for tightness and clean away any dirt and corrosion. If it's time for a new battery, I suggest buying them at local "buyer's club" (Costco, Sam's Club) to save money, and change it yourself. You'll save $120, with DIY costing $80 versus dealer prices of $200.
- Change your engine oil and filter: Cold weather is tough on engine oil because it doesn't get a chance to come to normal operating temperature necessary to get rid of moisture and contaminants, which can cause sludge. If you buy the oil yourself, make sure that you are certain that you are using a high-quality oil of the correct viscosity. Often, chain-store oil-change outfits may be using the same oil for different cars. If your car is older with high mileage, it can be very helpful to switch to a heavier oil with different detergent. Higher temps require higher oil weight/viscosity, and since the seals on the engine of an older car have likely started to wear, switching will help keep your engine protected. Also be sure to check the brake/steering/washer fluids while you're under the hood. This will save you $35, as DIY costs $25 compared to dealer cost of $60.
4. Dining and Drinking Al Fresco
Warmer weather means more opportunity for eating and drinking outdoors, and if you're not careful, it can get out of hand, financially. Nobody wants to cook indoors when it's hot out — I get it — so think of alternative ways to eat at home, like by using the outdoor grill more frequently or making meals that don't require a heat source, like salads, cold soups, and slow-cooker meals. If you're drinking with your dinner, have a glass of water between adult bevies to reduce the risk of overspending, and tomorrow's pounding headache.
5. Home and Apartment Rentals
Rental season is at its busiest during the warmer months, from May to October, for several reasons. For starters, this period is a time when many people are in transition, especially students who are looking for housing after the school year ends or before it begins. Plus, this time of year is more conducive to moving, because who wants to haul furniture around during a blizzard? Nobody, including those begrudging friends you've enlisted to help you. Because of these factors, and the laws of supply and demand, rental prices may be at a premium during the summer. If you have a choice, wait until the weather gets a bit cooler to make your move.
6. New Cars
According to USAA via TrueCar, you can expect to experience more sticker shock on vehicles during the summer than you would while everybody's hibernating and generally steering clear of walking around car lots in a foot of snow. Prices increase as the weather warms because, again, of our old friend supply and demand. More people are out and about when things thaw out, and their tax refunds are burning holes in the pockets — an incentive that car dealerships fully take advantage of.
7. Ice Cream
You might think ice cream costs more during the summer because everybody is eating it, but that's not necessarily the case. I mean, it's sort of the reason why you may see higher prices this year, but it's mostly because there's a vanilla shortage in Madagascar because of poor harvest quality, and that means less mint chocolate chip for you, me, and the rest of the cone-loving U.S. population. Hey, at least we still have freeze-pops.
RELATED: Discover some of the most creative ice cream flavors:
How do you stay on top of your summer budget? Share with us in the comments!