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In the News: CPAs Provide Financial Tips for a Stress-Free Summer

Dollar-chaiseSummer was always thought of as the time for sunny days at the beach, BBQs and bonfires. But these days most American adults equate summer with financial anxiety, according to a recent telephone survey conducted for the AICPA by Harris Poll.

According to the survey, about 6 in 10 U.S. adults (59 percent) said their financial tension during the summer matches or exceeds the stress they feel during the year-end holiday season. The AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission has been reaching consumers with tips to help them alleviate the stress of summer by making smart financial decisions.

In a televised interview with ABC 6 in Philadelphia, Kelley Long, CPA/PFS, and a member of the Financial Literacy Commission, told viewers who are considering a summer vacation, “If you start planning right now, you might have a better idea of what you’re going to need to spend. Writing down all those expenses so you know how much you need to set aside is a good place to start. And, as you’re planning your vacation, you want to think about ways to save money and not spend as much.”

One such way, according to Long is to avoid the weekend. “Plan to do some of your travel during the mid-week,” she explained. “Tuesdays and Wednesdays are great days for cheaper airfares.”

For parents, the financial stress of summer is even greater. Most parents of children under 17 (62 percent) anticipate paying an average of $1,400 for their children’s summer activities including sports camp, day camp, sleep-away camp, tutoring and academic courses, group day care, and in-home child care. For some parents (23 percent), that cost may include a weekly allowance averaging $19.

In a televised interview with WNDU in South Bend, Indiana, Ernie Almonte, CPA, chairman of the Financial Literacy Commission, suggested that including children in the process of figuring out the financial aspects of a summer vacation makes it a teachable moment for all.  

“This is a great opportunity for us to teach the next generation how to handle their finances,” Almonte said. “If we can teach people to handle their budgets, you can enjoy your summer, you can enjoy your holidays, and you can enjoy your relationships, without having the stress of finances.”

In addition, in a mainstreet.com article Almonte stressed the importance of leaving your credit card in your wallet and instead, paying with cash.

“During stressful financial times, paying with cash is a great way to keep your spending under control. By using dollars instead of plastic, consumers are much more aware of their outgoing expenses,” Almonte said. “When you pay for a vacation with a credit card, you come back with more than photos. You come back with debt, and your vacation could wind up costing considerably more than you had budgeted.”

The National CPA Financial Literacy Commission has the following tips that consumers can use right away to get started saving for or reducing their upcoming expenses:

  1. Hunt for Discount Coupons. Never pay full price for water and theme parks or other entertainment. Look for deals in the form of discount coupons at supermarkets, convenience stores and even hotel brochure racks. The savings can be 25 percent or more.
  2. Look for Freebies. When choosing accommodations for your vacation, consider the following to reduce costs: Does the hotel offer complimentary transportation to the airport, restaurants, or local attractions? Does the rate include breakfast? Having a meal included can save you a bundle, especially on longer trips or family vacations.
  3. Cleanout and Sell. Sell unwanted items on eBay or Craigslist or have a garage sale. This helps fund the vacation and gets rid of clutter at the same time. A double bonus!

The 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program is celebrating 10 years of helping consumers improve their financial decision making. Additional tips on how to save money for and on summer activities are available at 360FinancialLiteracy.org.

Are there tips you have used to help your family or clients save money on summer vacations? Share them in the comments!

James Schiavone, Media Relations Manager, American Institute of CPAs.

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