This week it sort of feels like you hope a proper British summer would feel. Sunshine, warmth, a bit of a breeze, and so on. Or at least not having to wear thermals and a cardigan in July, and shelter from day-long rain showers, which is kind of what we had last year.
As the song goes, summertime, and the living is easy. It’s certainly easy to feel more positive and relaxed if the weather’s nice – why else do we spend so much collectively on overseas holidays? It certainly makes a great change to have a little of this lovely weather at home.
Being in debt or on a very low income can be stressful, so maybe the sunshine is just what the doctor ordered for a lot of us. But there’s a lot more to it than sunny skies and sunny feelings.
In the last four years, we Brits have seen disproportionate rises in the prices of:
- Household fuel and petrol
- Food and other groceries
- Public transport
(this hits those on lower incomes the hardest)
At the same time we’ve been:
- Turning to payday loans
- Cutting right back on going out
- Buying fewer clothes etc
But even in the face of redundancies, vanishing pension pots, growing reliance on food banks and generally increasingly feeling the pinch, we’ve gone back to booking overseas holidays in the sun with gusto this year. We all needed a big dose of sunshine.
So, how can you live more cheaply in the summer when you’re on a tight budget?
Well, for starters, you won’t be putting the heating on, or doing as much cooking, and maybe you’ll be having quick cool showers rather than hot baths, so that’s the fuel side of things a bit more under control. It’s much easier to walk or cycle when the weather’s pleasant, so maybe that’s a bit less public transport or petrol to pay for.
More to the point though, there’s less pressure to keep frantically busy and there’s perhaps less of an urge to look for ways to boost your mood, at least for the average person.
How to enjoy the summer on a micro budget
- There are more open-air events to keep ourselves entertained, whether that’s music, fairs, markets or council-run activities for the kids. Check local noticeboards, the paper and your local authority’s website for interesting days out.
- Sitting out under a tree and reading a library book, a newspaper or a free kindle download seems a lot more appealing too. No need to rush around all the time.
- Any old packed lunch taken out to a park or garden suddenly becomes a picnic. Get friends to join in, co-ordinating to bring a range of different dishes and drinks, and it’s a meal to remember.
- Some standard issue sausages or burgers are something special when you chuck them (fully defrosted) onto a pound shop disposable charcoal BBQ. Especially if you prop it up on a couple of bricks so you don’t scorch the paving stones or grass. Add a couple of salads, two different sauces or relishes and some cheap burger buns, and you’re away.
On the subject of food, we also tend to eat a bit less in the warmer weather, as most of us have fewer cravings for stodge. Also, if you grow your own fruit and/or veggies, this is when they start to produce much higher yields. My kitchen garden is keeping two adults in salad, onions, peppers, courgettes, beans and greens now, after a rocky start to the growing year, and we supplement that with some budget fruit, and some bread, eggs, cheese and mackerel etc here and there. The fresh flavours are amazing and we’re feeling so much healthier for it.
Socialising is a bit more relaxed too. There’s less pressure to go out to shows or clubs, and drinks in the back garden or nearby pub beer garden feel like the way to go. No expensive taxis home either.
You can get away with cheaper drinks too. In weather like this, the best drinks are thirst quenching and chilled right down, so you won’t necessarily want a full-bodied red at room temperature – let’s face it, a nice cold beer sounds more appealing to most of us, even a cheap one, especially with BBQ.
How are you going to enjoy the summery weather without going overboard on your spending?