Spend Smart on Summer Fun

summer fun

Summer is here, and that means it’s time for vacations. The only problem is that vacations are expensive – right?

Sure, they can be. But how much of an investment you want to make in your summer months is entirely up to you, and you can do a lot to shrink your bills if you’re willing to make some decisions about your future vacation plans.

One-time visits or a permanent retreat?

Where are you going this summer? Will you go there again? That’s a key question for anyone considering a vacation home. A once-in-a-lifetime fishing trip can take you to a place you’ve never been before, and that makes the decision easy: you’ll stay in a fishing lodge and enjoy a week or two far from home. But what if you find yourself coming back to the same spot over and over? If you’re renting a home or a hotel room, you’re spending money without getting anything back. It may be smart to consider investing in a place of your own.

Yes, that means a major expense – home ownership is tough enough to do once, so it’s no surprise that many of us aren’t running out to buy second or third homes. But if you can find a place you can afford, you’ll be able to rent out the property when you’re not using it, and you’ll gain an asset that (hopefully, anyway) will appreciate over time. Rather than wasting money on rent, you’ll be staying for free during the summer and increase your worth year-round.


Vacation homes can make financial sense, but they don’t always. Luxurious areas may have high property taxes and other expenses, and fancy vacation homes may demand too high of an initial investment for them to make sense to many buyers. Still, it’s worth looking around. If you can find an underpriced fixer-upper, a little elbow grease could net you some big gains.

Try looking beyond the fanciest lake-side and oceanside towns. Some properties are available for much less a short drive away, and if you can improve your property, you may be able to sell it for quite a bit in a few years. For vacationers on a budget, fixer-uppers can become incredible vacation homes.

Look for ways to save. If you’re handy, you can get building materials straight from lumber companies: cabinets, flooring, and windows are things that skilled DIYers can put in themselves, which can mean big savings on contractor fees.

Other places to save

A vacation home isn’t the only thing that cost-conscious vacationers can save on. Everything that goes with it – from deck furniture to boats – can be purchased second-hand. Too often, we think of luxury items as things that need to be purchased brand-new. That’s not the case! Boats drop in value significantly when they’ve driven away from the dealership, so a smart purchase from a reliable dealer can give you a much larger and nicer boat than you might otherwise be able to afford. Head to a local dealer or to an online dealer like boatcrazy.com. This advice holds for other vehicles, too: jet skis, snowmobiles, four-wheelers, and more. In some cases, of course, you’ll have to be careful: boats and RVs, among other vehicles, should be checked carefully when you’re making a second-hand purchase. But do it right and you’ll end up snagging yet another vacation luxury that too many think is off-limits for them.

Not just for the rich

No, none of this is cheap: we’re spending smart, but we’re still spending. But not every vacation home needs to be Mar-a-Lago, and DIY-savvy purchasers may be surprised by just how wonderful their vacation setup can be without having to break the bank. By investing in and improving affordable properties, vacationers can turn less into more and enjoy a vacation retreat within their means.

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