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Letter: Avoid overspending this summer

While many people struggled during the pandemic, the past year also led many people to change their saving and spending habits for the better. One in five Americans increased their savings in 2020 according to the survey.

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As vaccinations continue to rise and restrictions loosen, many Americans are feeling optimistic about the summer. A recent survey by COUNTRY Financial survey found a majority of Americans are feeling positive about their personal finances and are ready to spend. In fact, 64% are making big plans for the summer, including taking a vacation, making home upgrades and attending a live show, concert or sports event.

While many people struggled during the pandemic, the past year also led many people to change their saving and spending habits for the better. One in five Americans increased their savings in 2020 according to the survey. To preserve some of these positive behaviors while you get out and enjoy your summer, keep these tips in mind for smart spending this summer and beyond:

Keep the good
Consider the things that resulted from the pandemic that had a positive effect on you, your family, and your finances. Did you give up a gym membership for a home workout? Start a new family movie night tradition? Find a renewed interest in cooking? Rather than going back to pre-pandemic ways, keep up the good money saving habits you created.

Set a budget

You know this one, but it’s important to reiterate. Set a budget and stick to it. When you are planning a vacation or a remodel, know how much you can afford to spend and plan your budget accordingly. Do your research to estimate all the potential expenses you can think of as you create your budget. Then pad it even more if you can. Overspending by $100 here and there can break the bank quickly. Plan for the unexpected as well as the known. It’s better to have some money left over at the end of the trip or project, than have budgeted too little and have to dip into savings or go into debt.

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Mind the 50-30-20 rule

One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re on a good financial track is by using the 50-30-20 rule. That means 50% of your income should go towards your fixed expenses such as mortgage and food, then 20% should go towards your savings, including retirement and an emergency fund and 30% should go towards things you want including vacations and entertainment. Following this rule will help ensure you’re not overspending in the wrong places or spending what you don’t have.

It’s OK to not feel ready to go back to a 100% pre-pandemic lifestyle, but as you do look to get out and enjoy more simple pleasures this summer or have some bigger splurges planned, just remember to stay safe and smart with your spending. If you keep up the good financial habits you’ve built up while hunkering in place, they will pay dividends in the long run.

Brian Riches is a COUNTRY Financial representative in Fergus Falls, Minn.

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