Here’s a little secret: When budgeting your income and expenses this summer, you might want to set aside a little pool of funds just for you—a “fun fund,” if you will.
Having a summer fun fund will help ensure you’re able to enjoy the very best of the season, guilt-free. Don’t worry if you haven’t started saving for the glory of summer just yet; ahead, we’ll break down how you can quickly build a fun fund and what strategies work best.
First, let’s establish what a fun fund is
A fun fund is the amount of money you set aside every week—or pay period, or month, whatever works—for you to spend as you like, guilt-free. It seems counter-intuitive, especially since building a budget is hardly anyone’s idea of a fun time. Indeed, when budgeting, setting money aside for fun often comes last.
While it’s obviously responsible for you to ensure your summer fun fund doesn’t interfere with your ability to put money aside for important things (like housing or student loan payments), having a fun goal will ensure you spend your money in a way that’s meaningful to you, rather than frittering it away on little expenses that don’t bring you much joy. Plus, it’s easier to forgo that summer Zara sale when you know you’re already putting your money toward a weekend Airbnb with friends.
Next, set your savings goal
Reflect on whatit is you’re saving for. Is your fun fund a short-term or long-term savings goal? Is there a big summer concert you’re looking forward to attending? Are you hoping to get great tickets? If so, you’ll want to name your goal, set the price, and remind yourself of the experience you’re working toward. Instead of thinking about saving in terms of something you’re obligated to do, every extra dollar you put aside will be a reward for yourself later.
Settle on a strategy for how you will save
The first strategy is to automate your savings. When you look at your checking account, you likely won’t notice that you’re a few dollars shorter than usual. You can do this a few different ways. Check if your employer can distribute your paycheck into different accounts. If so, you can ask them to direct deposit a set amount or percentage into your savings account.
You can also check with your local bank about having them round up your purchases to the next dollar. Then, you can deposit all that loose change into a separate savings account.
Or, you can automate your savings with the help of an app like Digit. (These other mobile apps also help you save money on the fly.) The app works by examining your regular spending habits and then discreetly moving small amounts of money into a savings account for you.
To make sure you’re not tapping into your fun fund savings ahead of your goal, you might consider putting it in an account with a different bank. That extra layer of hassle can ultimately deter you from impulsively tapping into your savings ahead of your goal. Of course, this strategy won’t work if your fun fund is meant for smaller, more instantaneous purchases.
Do a spending detox
Sometimes “saving” is really about reorganizing your spending in flexible categories of your budget. Things like meals, gas/commuting, toiletries, gifts, etc., are spending categories that you might be able to find some wiggle room within. For instance, maybe you could save on gas money by taking public transportation twice a week. Or you can commit to not purchasing any unnecessary toiletries or beauty items for the next couple of months.
Maybe you’re used to regularly ordering food once a week and you’re accustomed to grabbing a morning coffee and croissant three times a week. Reducing your expenses on eating out can quickly add up to extra cash for your fun fund. Unsubscribe from those summer sale emails and consider meal-prepping for a week or two to save some extra cash.
If you like a personal challenge, consider doing a spending detox for a few days. Essentially, you commit to not spending a dime on certain days of the week, while going about your regular routine on others. It’s a great way to force you to consciously avoid any unnecessary small purchases.
Sell your wares and take up extra work
Maybe you’ve been telling yourself you’ll get rid of that junk in the garage for some time now. Lucky for you, summer is the time of year when plenty of people are down to attend garage sales. Make some time to sort through your belongings and determine what items you can purge from your inventory. If hosting a yard sale sounds like too much work, consider using an app like OfferUp to post your items online.
If you’re still strapped, consider what side hustles you might be able to take up. Perhaps you can work as a weekend babysitter, a virtual assistant, a dog walker, or an Uber driver to get some extra cash for your fun fund.
Before you know it, you’ll be relaxing on the beach, just as you so richly deserve.