How to Love Budgeting This Summer

Episode 7

The best ways to have fun this summer and still win at budgeting!


Get the recipes for Marlon’s maple bacon bourbon burger, grilled chicken and more from this episode!

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Show Notes

How to Love Budgeting This Summer

Okay guys, I’m just going to tell it like it is.

(Brace yourselves, fall-loving friends).

We’ve officially entered the best season. Yep: summer. You guys, I love summer! There are vacations to take, restaurants to try, movies to see, and various bodies of water to splash around in. Actually, I don’t even need the water. Give me sand and a summer read and I’m a happy gal.

Oh. Did you notice all those dollars floating around in my summer daydreams? Why does the best season come with such a hefty price tag?

Maybe the better question is: Does it have to? I’m going to say no! Definitely not. Today, we’ll talk strategies for how to affordably have fun and soak up the sun this summer—or avoid it altogether, if that’s your thing.

Don’t Let Summer Comparisons Keep You From Budgeting

Every year around April we all start asking each other the same thing: “What are you doing this summer?” My friends ask me; I ask my friends. Dangerous question, you guys.

You know how it goes. Your friend says she’s going to the beach, and you respond, “Me too!” But it turns out she’s renting a house (not a condo) and staying for two weeks (not four days). All of a sudden, your exciting getaway feels more like a not-as-fun, sorta break.

Yep, those summer comparisons are real and powerful. And the temptation might be to throw your budget out the window and instead fly by the seat of your shorts.

The Reality of Summer Budgeting—Or the Lack Thereof

The sunny days of summer are perfect for forcing even the busiest among us to relax a bit, kick off our shoes, move a little slower, breathe a little deeper. But we’re not meant to drop all the things that add value to our lives. You know, like having control of our money.

But get this: A recent survey found that 81% of parents plan to charge an average of over $1,000 for vacation this summer on their credit card.(1)

I don’t want that to happen to you guys! I want you to maintain control of your money, so fight the urge to overspend on trips this summer. Your fall budget will thank you.

Biggest Summer Budget Busters

We asked our Facebook community to share their biggest summer budget busters and, in addition to trips, most people said stuff like:

  • Groceries
  • Restaurants
  • Fast food
  • Ice cream
  • Gas
  • Entertainment

Can we just pause for a second and acknowledge that almost everything on that list relates to things we eat? You guys get me.


Okay, back to the budget busters. What are your biggest budget busters in the summer? Comment below and then pop back up for an actionable way to make room for each and every one of them in your budget.

Instead of Busting Your Summer Budget, Make It Fun!

I want to remind you of one important fact: A budget gives you permission to spend. That’s right. A budget puts YOU in control of how you spend every dollar you earn.

You don’t have to drop the budget to have fun this summer. Nope. Fun and budgeting, believe it or not, make a pretty happy pair.

Budgeting Tips for Summer Fun

  1. Identify categories where you might spend more during the summer months than you normally do (like food, gas, entertainment).
  2. Up the amount of money you set aside for those categories using your best judgment and based on specific plans.
  3. Look for ways to reduce budgeted amounts in other categories.
  4. Remember that your goal in budgeting is for your income minus your expenses to equal zero. We make budgeting online easy with our simple-to-use tool, EveryDollar.

The only thing left is to stick to your plan!

Quick Tips for Finding Money You Can Move Around

Let’s say you’re buying a pool membership just for the summer. You could pretend it’s an expense not worth mentioning, but why would you want to add that stress to yourself? Instead, make room for it in your budget.

To find the extra money you need, you might:

  • Lower your clothing budget. After all, high temps mean we’re all dressing a bit more casually and wearing less layers.
  • Reduce your miscellaneous category. You’ll need to be more laser-focused during Target trips and scrolls through Amazon, but you can do it for a few months, right?
  • Adjust your insurance costs. A call to one of our insurance Endorsed Local Providers could save you $500 in just 12 minutes. Hello, pool membership!

New to budgeting? Sit tight. Later in today’s episode, I talk with a young couple who has never done a budget before and help them tackle their first one together!

Real Life With Rachel

You’ve probably heard me say that when it comes to being a spender or a saver, I’m a spender all the way. Spending money is fun!

So imagine my surprise when I went out and saved our family big bucks on a summer vacation! Sure, this may have happened a few years ago, but I can’t stop bragging. Would you?

Here’s how it all went down: Winston and I decided to take Amelia to the beach later in the season. We only had a few weeks to plan the trip, and all the available options were over budget.

I’m not going to lie. My normal impulse would have been to say, “We’ll be fine!” And yeah, we probably could have moved some money around in our budget categories and been fine. But on this day, I had an idea.

I picked up the phone—yes, people still do this!—and called the owner of a condo we liked to ask if she’d give us a discount. She offered us 20% off just like that! So I got confident and said, “The dates we’re traveling are really close to when your fall rates kick in. Is there any way you could give it to us for that price instead?”

And you guys, she said yes! Clearly, I missed my calling as a travel agent.

So, I have a Summer Money Challenge for you: If you’re going on vacation this summer, pick up the phone and ask for a better rate. And if you get one, tag me on social media and let me know how much you saved so we can celebrate together!


Being a parent is hard work!

To really take care of your family this summer:

– GET A Term-life Insurance QUOTE from ZANDER

– Give Them a healthy breakfast that doesn’t bust the budget


Give Your Summer Budget a Boost With These Recipes for Grilling Out!

We’ve already established—to the shock of pretty much no one—that food is a big budget buster in the summer. We eat more at home, out with friends, and on vacation.

That’s why I’m so excited about today’s guest, Marlon C. Reed Jr., who’s the owner and chef at Slow Burn Hot Chicken in Madison, Tennessee. He shows us how to whip up a delicious and budget-friendly meal on the grill.

With just a little bit of prep and around 30 minutes of cooking time, we make:

Baked beans

Corn on the cob

Garlic herb chicken

Watermelon salad

And you want to know the best part? The baked beans, corn, and chicken can all be cooked on the grill and connected warmer or in your oven. Of course, at my house, we’re going with the grill every time. Winston works his magic and I get a break from the kitchen!

Marlon also shares a few tips for keeping food costs down:

  • Buy in-season fruits and vegetables. Corn is inexpensive in the summer. You can snag six ears for just $2!
  • When it comes to chicken, go for thighs and drumsticks. Cheaper and juicier than chicken breasts, you can feed a family of four for $5!
  • Play around with spices. There’s no need to go out and buy something new. Raid your spice cabinet (apparently, he and my mom are BFFs) and look for new ways to use what you have.

Looking for something a bit more hearty? Marlon asked us to pass along the recipe for his Maple Bacon Bourbon Burgers. Yes please.

Get the recipes for Marlon’s maple bacon bourbon burger, grilled chicken and more from this episode!

7 Affordable Ways to Have Fun This Summer

School’s out for the summer, which means more opportunities to have fun with your kids!

But did you know that parents of kids ages 3–17 plan to spend around $471 per kid on summer activities like camp, sports or going to the movies?(2) If you’ve got more than one child, well, the amount you spend entertaining them could really add up!

So in today’s episode, I share a few simple, affordable ways for you to make memories and have fun with your crew this summer:

  1. Raid the toy section at Big Lots or your local dollar store.
  2. Skip the ice cream truck and make popsicles at home.
  3. Go to a you-pick farm and load up on strawberries or blueberries.
  4. Create an “I’m bored” jar.
  5. Camp out in the backyard.
  6. Go to a Movies in the Park event.
  7. Be a tourist in your own city or neighborhood.

Summer Budgeting Makeover

Maybe you’re hearing all this talk of busting your budget over the summer and you’re thinking, Can’t really bust a budget if I don’t have one! Well, friend, today is your day.

In this episode, I meet with newlyweds, Elijah and Kylie, to help them create their very first budget. We walk through every item, line by line, using the EveryDollar app, and it leads to some very interesting conversations!

What’s EveryDollar?

EveryDollar is an online budgeting tool that makes taking control of your money a snap. In just minutes, you can create a budget that works as hard for your money as you do! Plus, the tool has a built-in budgeting calculator that will do the math for you!

Elijah and Kylie’s Budgeting Takeaways

In today’s budget makeover, we cover it all. If you’re new to budgeting or would like a refresher, definitely check out the entire segment for yourself. There’s too much great stuff to include it all here.

In the meantime, here are a few budgeting highlights you might want to apply in your own life:

  • Get a joint bank account. When you’re married, the money each of you earn should be referred to as our money—not his money and her money. You’ll feel more unified and on the same page with this one small change.
  • Give each other grace. You’re both going to make money mistakes from time to time. Own up to them, learn from them, and move on.
  • Practice the true definition of budgeting. Your budget should be zero-based, with every dollar coming in assigned to a specific category before the month begins. I love that EveryDollar is designed to help you do just that!
  • Follow the Baby Steps. To be okay no matter what life throws at you, you need a proven long-term plan.
  • When in debt, skip the restaurants. If you want to make a dent in your debt payments, stop going out to eat. You’ll be surprised how much money you save!
  • Start with a good bit of money in the miscellaneous category.
Read the full transcript

– – This summer, you want to go on vacation, you want to try new restaurants, you want to do all the things. Well, in today’s episode, it is all about having fun this summer without busting the budget. Well you guys, it’s official, summer is here! Ah, it’s my favorite season. Some people are like, “I love fall and the cool, crisp weather.” I don’t. I love to be hot and in the sun and I love it, and when summer comes, everyone’s like, “What are you doing this summer? “What are you doing?” And I’m sure all of your friends are like, “Oh, we’re going to the beach,” or “we’re going on vacation and here and there.” And the summer comparisons, it’s a real thing. I was texting with my sister the other day and I was like, “Hey, what are you doing?” She was like, “Oh, I decided to spontaneously “go to the beach,” and sent me pictures of her kids in the ocean, and I was like, “Oh, that’s nice, okay.” Love your life Rachel, not hers, okay. So it’s just like, it’s real, it’s there all the time, it’s crazy, and what’s even crazier is people are taking out debt to go on those summer vacations. Four out of five parents say that they’re going to go on summer vacation and plan to charge, on average, $1019 on their credit card! Stop that, don’t do that, no no! So in today’s episode, we’re going to talk about how to have fun this summer, you guys, ’cause you can have a great summer without busting the budget. And we all have things that we want to do this summer, and sometimes, well, we do break the bank. So I wanted to ask you some of your common summer budget busters, because well, we all have them. So Tracey said: “The grocery budget soars! “How do they,” kids, “eat so much?” Jenn said: “Injuries, ice cream, and eating out “due to heat or being out late. “Gas and recreation costs increase.” Yeah, for sure. Injuries and ice cream, summer of 2018. Sounds great and exciting. So I’m curious what some of your common budget busters are this summer, so comment below and let us know. And when you’re looking at your budget, you can actually adjust categories when it comes to the seasons, so when it comes to summer, a lot of people in general take their foot off the gas when it comes to their money, but I still want you to be on top of your money and your budget. So I know for us, and for those on Facebook that just answered, said that food and gas usually go up in the summer. I know it does for us. Food budget always goes up some, and we’re always traveling to the lake or we’re going out of town, and we spend more on gas. So for Winston and I, we actually up those categories and lower other categories. So I always recommend lowering your clothing budget in the summer, because summer in general, it’s usually more casual, and you’re kind of just here and there, it doesn’t feel like you spend as much on clothes. And also adjust miscellaneous. You can go down like 5% on that, because you really can stick to your budget and be okay with that for the summer. And also your insurance costs can go down. Actually if you call one of our endorsed local providers, you can save $500 in 12 minutes. Mm-hmm, it’s right, and it’s true, it’s great. So make sure to do that and lower those categories to up the others for the summer. Now, later in the episode we’re gonna have a very cute couple to come on, and we’re actually going to do their first budget together, and it’s great, and hopefully they won’t bust their budget this summer. But, it reminds me of a story of a time three summers ago where I actually saved us from busting the budget. That’s right you guys, I saved us! You know I’m the spender, you know that I’m the one that’s like, “Oh, we’ll be fine.” I should be more strict, but Winston’s the one that’s usually more like, “No, Rachel, no.” I though stepped in to our summer vacation we decided to take, we were gonna take Amelia to the beach, but we were going in late summer and the place we wanted to stay was kind of a little bit more expensive than what we wanted, and I wanted something kind of close to the water that we didn’t have to drive to ’cause we had a baby with us at that time and I was like, “Oh, it’d just be so much more convenient “just to be able to walk to the beach.” So I get online, on I think VRBO or one of those websites, and I’m looking, and I’m like, “Okay, I can do this.” And everything is so expensive. I thought, “What is happening?” And so I found this place and it was fantastic, it was so beautiful and so great, but it was a little out of our price range, but I thought, “It’s gonna be my challenge. “I’m gonna get this condo.” So I actually called the lady, and I was like, “Hi, we’re a really sweet young couple “that really wants to take our baby to the beach.” I was like, “Is there any way,” ’cause we were like a few weeks away from going so it was kind of a little bit of a last minute vacation, and it was close to the fall rate, so I was like, “Listen, I would love for you “to give us a discount, anything.” And I was like, “You’re not gonna fill it up, “so do you mind just giving it to us at a great price? “This is our budget.” And she was like, “Okay, you know what, “yeah, that’s great, I will give you 20% off.” And then I was like, “Oh, that’s awesome, thank you so much! “And you know what, the fall rates kick in “like two weeks later, is there any way “we can have those fall rates too?” She said yes! Yes! I was like, I’m the best person ever, like I should be a travel agent. I missed my calling! I mean like this is fantastic. So the money challenge for this episode is to do that, to ask, even if you already have a vacation planned, just call and ask. Because you know what, they could say no, they also could say yes! And so if you do the challenge and you actually save some money, I want to hear about it, so make sure to comment below. All right, coming up next, I’m really excited about this, we actually have a professional griller, a grilling expert, Marlon C. Reed who’s a chef and an owner and operates Slow Burn Hot Chicken here in Nashville, and he’s going to show us some great summer meals you can do on the grill because we all know, food is a major budget buster. Guys, let’s be real. Being a parent is hard work. Now that I have two daughters of my own, it feels like the to-do list never ends. And as every parent knows, your priorities change and you have to make important decisions for your child’s future. That’s why term life insurance is a must for every parent. It’s so easy to get and it’s affordable. What you’re looking for is 10 to 12 times your annual income to make sure everyone in your family’s taken care of. Winston and I use Zander Insurance. They do all the work for you to find the best prices and options. So go to to get started on a quote today because that’s who we trust to take care of our family. Giving our family a nutritious breakfast that doesn’t bust the budget can be a struggle. We want something that’s healthy, but also quick and easy. Let me tell you about a product called Good Grains. Good Grains makes tasty, wholesome cereal without all the junk. And guess what? They deliver straight to your door. Good Grains has something for the whole family, whether you’re looking for a better version of your family’s favorite cereal, or need a gluten free option. They offer one time or subscription plans. They’ll even take a portion of the proceeds and give it to support local schools. Shop today at and save 30% on your order. And that’s 30% off your order every time, not just your first order. Good Grains, give your family the good stuff for breakfast. Well it is summer, and we all love to be outside and especially when it comes to grilling, it’s like the best part of the season, so I decided to bring grill master Marlon in to help us out. So Marlon, thanks for being here. – Not a problem, my pleasure. – This is so fun. Okay, so you own– – Slow Burn Hot Chicken out in Madison, Tennessee. – Slow Burn Hot Chicken right outside of Nashville in Madison, so if you ever visit, make sure to check it out. And you are just, you’re a pro. I mean, you’ve been cooking for how long? – 30 years plus. – My gosh, so you know what you’re doing. – Yes, I do. -Okay, good. So we have a few recipes here, so where are we gonna start? – [Marlon] We’re gonna start over here with baked beans. – [Rachel] Okay. – I use Bush’s. – Yes, you do, for real? – Yes I do. – I use Bush’s, and they really are so good. – [Marlon] It’s a brand, it’s not broke, so don’t fix it. – [Rachel] That’s right! – Just add a little things to it to spruce it up a little. – Little something-something. So what are we going to add? – We’re gonna add some brown sugar. – Mm-hmm, good, good good. – Chopped up white onions. – [Rachel] Okay. – Then you would wrap that. – Yep. – And if you had a grill with a side burner you could put it on the side while it is. – Oh, nice. – If not, just put it in the oven, let it do its thing while you’re out here burning up. – Okay, that’s right, that’s right. So oven, for like what, 350? – 350 for about 30 minutes. – Yeah, and just let it all cook in there. Okay, so we have corn. – [Marlon] Corn on the cob. – [Rachel] Now, can I tell you what Rachel Cruze does with corn? – What do you do? -Well I always keep it in the stalk and grill it, or Winston does sometimes, and we’ll add some butter and a little bit of things, but like not professional, so. – Actually, that’s the best way to grill corn. – Stop it, for real? – In the shuck, you get all the natural juices from that. – Well. – This is the quick, easy way, it’s been done for you. – Okay, okay, this is fantastic then. So tell me, what do we do? – Just take the corn. – Okay. – Add a little butter. – We’ll do it together. Okay. And it’s already in aluminum foil. – Mm-hmm. – Mm-hmm. – [Marlon] You’re just gonna take the butter, lather it on there real good. – [Rachel] Beautiful. – I like to add a little salt and pepper. – Yes. – [Marlon] And then you add a little chopped cilantro. – Yes, so good. – Another one of those good recipe, if it’s not– – And that’s an easy spice just to throw in. – It’s easy! – Yeah, that’s good. – Parmesan cheese. – Okay, and this Parm is what, this is grated? – That’s that grated Parmesan cheese which you would normally throw over spaghetti. – [Rachel] Like, I mean something like this? – [Marlon] Like that. – Okay, something easy. – Easy peasy. – Parm, okay. – Then just take it, wrap it up. – [Rachel] Okay. – And you’ll throw these right on the grill and let it go. – How long? – 30 minutes tops. – Okay, and corn is pretty cheap anyway. – Very cheap. – So this is like a super easy, cheap side dish. – You can find them, now it’s summertime, you find them six for two dollars. – See, so good. Okay, so next we have chicken. – [Marlon] Mm-hmm. – And I hate to be one of those people that’s like, “Ew, raw chicken!” Chicken kind of scares me. I mean like, I cook it, but like it’s not like, it’s not my most favorite thing in the world to cook. – It’s not, nothing to worry about. – Got to embrace it, okay. So this here, what kind of chicken do we have here? – You have chicken drumsticks and chicken thighs. Both are bone-in. – Okay, and why this and why not just like a chicken breast? – Chicken thighs and chicken legs are relatively cheap and you can feed a family of four for under five dollars. – Ah, I love it, so great. Okay, so what do we do with this? Like how does this work? – It works in mysterious ways. -That’s right. – Take some olive oil. – Okay. – [Marlon] Gently toss it over the chicken. – [Rachel] All right. – [Marlon] Keep it simple, salt. – [Rachel] Salt and pepper, I’ll help with the pepper. – Do a little pepper. You grab the garlic and I’ll grab the rosemary. – Okay. – Good, earthy herbs. – Rosemary, yes. – Especially when grilling, it’ll open up, you’ll be able toah! – [Rachel] So good! Okay, how’s this, should I do even more garlic? – [Marlon] Get some more garlic. – Woo, yeah yeah yeah, Marlon! Okay, so you have rosemary here. – Yes, ma’am. – So what else could you use? – You know what? Go in your fridge, in your kitchen. – [Rachel] Yep. – Open up your spice cabinet, and just play around with spices. – Marlon! – You have them in there already, and there’s no need to go out and buy, you pretty much have all this in your spice cabinet already. – You need to meet Sharon Ramsey, my mom. She was on a cooking set with me, and I’m not kidding you, her line always, ’cause I’m always like, “Mom, how did you do this?” “Just open up your spice cabinet.” – Anytime you’re cooking, seriously, just open up your cabinets. – Marlon, that’s amazing! That is so funny. – Thyme, rosemary, garlic. – Anything. – Anything! – Just open up your spice cabinet and put it in. So, going about grilling this. – Grilling it. – Show me what to do. ‘Cause I’m not a griller. – Just take it to your grill. – Okay. – Open it up. – Okay. – And just place it. – Okay. – These are your chicken legs. – Chicken legs. – And then you take your chicken thighs and put them on there too. – Okay, and did you, where do you buy your meat? – I do Kroger’s. – Okay. – Or Publix. And you grab the corn. – Oh yes, yes. – With this in the foil, just set it right on the grill. – Okay. – And go for it. – So some of these, you have the seasoning up, some of them seasoning, doesn’t matter? Just whatever? – It doesn’t matter ’cause you’re gonna turn it over. – Okay, okay. – And then close it. – Yes. – Give it about 15, 20 minutes, come check it, ’cause you don’t want to catch, you want check, catch all the flare ups. – [Rachel] Yeah. – You don’t want to come back and be just, “Oh, I left it there too long, had a problem.” – Yeah, so how do you know if you have, like how often do you check it? – I check mine every 10, 15 minutes. – Okay, perfect. – Come out here, check it, flip it over, rotate it around. – So total about 30 minutes on the grill. – [Marlon] About 30 minutes tops. – Both sides, yep. Moving on. – Another way to finish off a meal. – Yes. – It’s hot out, you want something cool and refreshing. – Yes. – A watermelon salad. – [Rachel] Okay, so what do you have here? – [Marlon] I have watermelon, pineapple. – [Rachel] Mix it all in? – [Marlon] Add it all to it. – [Rachel] Ooh, it’s going to be a big salad. Let me get this, okay. – Chopped up red onion. – Oh, yes. – And what red onion has a nice aromic flavor to it. – Okay. – Especially with fruit. – Yep. That’s the good stuff. – And then you add some chopped up mint. – Mint, yes! – And you have a good fruit salad. – [Rachel] And do you do anything with this, or it’s just– – [Marlon] Just mix it up. – You just really stir it, okay. So we just stir this up, wait on our corn and chicken to go. – Stir it up. You got your corn and chicken still sitting here. – [Rachel] Yes. – You hear it sizzling, so it’s doing its happy magic. – [Rachel] Mm, I’m smelling that garlic too. – You smell, and that’s the aroma you want to catch. – Fantastic, it’s good. It’s real good. – So we’ll let it do its thing. – Gonna have a meal. All right you guys. Well, we will see you in a few when everything is done. Okay, so it’s been about 30 minutes, everything is cooked. – Everything’s cooked and ready. – Okay, let’s dive in. – Dive in. – I’m so excited about this. – All right. – Yeah yeah, you do it. – Some corn. – ‘Cause that’s hot. So, we grilled on a propane tank grill here. – Yes, ma’am. – you can do oven and other grills? Like tell me what else we can– – If you’re not too, if grilling scares you, you can use your oven, same way, same seasonings, same marinade with the baked beans, the chicken and the corn, you can do it in your oven. If propane is your thing, you can use propane. You can even use a charcoal, and infuse smoke into it, add the smokiness to it. – Ooh, yes. You like charcoal, right? – [Marlon] I am a lover of charcoal and smokin’. Slow and low is the way I cook. – So good, Marlon. That is the chicken. It’s hot! – Like I said, it’s easy. On a budget friendly. – Mm-hmm. – You got your hot, you got your cool for a hot day like this. – It’s so doable, you guys, families of four five, do it this summer. So good. And you have another recipe. – I do. – About a burger. Which I love burgers. – It’s a maple bacon bourbon burger. Try to say that fast for as much as you can, but it’s– – Map