How to Love Budgeting This Summer

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

Show Notes

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.