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Can I afford a sizzling ladies summer season?

After a year indoors, everyone wants to have a hot girls' summer in 2021. But if your financial situation is still recovering from the pandemic, can you really afford it?

Whether you're struggling to make ends meet or just want to save a few dollars, use these tips to get big this summer – without breaking the bank.

Redeem bonus points

Millions of Americans stocked up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant during the pandemic. But many consumers inadvertently hoarded another item: credit card rewards points.

If you're planning to hang out with high school friends or go to a bachelorette party, redeem your points and miles to save on the trip. If you had to cancel a vacation because of the pandemic, redeem the remaining travel credit.

If you have more Reward Points than you need, you may be able to redeem them for cash or as a credit on your card that you can then use for your trip.

Don't have any award cards? Now may be a good time to sign up. Chase is currently offering a 100,000 point bonus for new cardholders applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or a 60,000 point bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Depending on the destination, that's enough for a few flights or hotel stays.

Invite friends to trade

My new favorite tradition with friends is to do a swap. Everyone brings items they no longer need, and we take turns getting new items out. The last time I got three dresses, a Madewell jumpsuit, a curling iron, and a dog bed.

You are not limited to clothing in an exchange. I encourage my friends to bring everything including books, kitchen utensils, makeup, and home accessories. It's a free way to get new items and it encourages you to clean up your house.

Drink like a college student

Back in college, most people had a few drinks at home before venturing into the bars. If you're going out with friends, start with a drink or two at home.

Another money-saving trick is to have a full meal before you go out so that you are not tempted to grab expensive appetizers. When having a drink with your friends, limit yourself to simple cocktails instead of specialty cocktails, or stick to the barrel list instead of buying a fancy bottle.

Make rules for yourself

Now that the world is opening up, it is tempting to throw away your budget and indulge in everything you missed out on during the pandemic. Establish a few basic rules beforehand so that you don't go overboard.

For example, make a rule that if you have dinner or brunch with friends that week, you won't get any takeaway food. These basic rules will help you spend less without sacrificing the essentials.

Use a cash budget

Instead of taking your credit card with you when you go out, just take the amount of cash you want to spend with you. You can still use your phone to order Uber or Lyft, but you won't be tempted to use a credit card. Decide how much you want to spend and bring only that amount with you.

Join a sports league

Group sports leagues like softball, soccer or kickball are one of the cheapest ways to hang out with friends and do sports at the same time.

Most group leagues cost anywhere from $ 50 to $ 75 per person, depending on the sport, and typically last around six weeks. Sometimes you even get a discount at a local bar where you can hang out afterwards.

Plan a budget-friendly trip

For the past few years, my college friends and I have met at my in-laws' house by the lake every summer. The house is near a small Indiana town, an hour's drive away for most of us.

Rather than picking a more exotic locale, we care about saving money. It's free to stay there and we share the cost of groceries. I usually spend around $ 100 on gas, food, and drinks for a three-day trip.

If you're considering a getaway with friends, get creative. Don't automatically book a trip to Vegas or Miami. Choose a location that's close enough to drive or near a popular airport where flights are cheaper.

If you're not fortunate enough to have access to a family vacation home, check Airbnb and VRBO for affordable travel destinations. Find a home with a well-equipped kitchen so you can prepare most of your meals.

Pro tip: use Mint's free travel budget calculator to help plan your next adventure.

Budget for it

When the world stood still last year, most of us got used to spending less on gasoline, bars, and new clothes. But when things open up, you may find that your expenses go up again.

Use this time to revise your budget and spend money on restaurants, ridesharing, and new outfits. When things get back to normal, you may need to change your budget a few times before you find a happy balance. Give yourself some grace, because circumstances can change quickly.

If you're struggling to budget for a month at a time, give yourself a weekly allowance for non-essential purchases. Guide some of your pandemic habits, such as: B. Ordering takeaway a couple of times a week responds to your rediscovered social habits, such as having dinner with friends.

Talk to your friends

While some consumers survived the pandemic without layoffs, millions of Americans lost their jobs and remained unemployed for months. So while your friends may be ready to party, your focus may be on rebuilding your savings.

If you suffered financially during the pandemic, you may not be able to keep up with your friends this summer. While it may seem awkward to openly discuss your money problems, it is better than making excuses.

If you lie about why you can't hang out, your friends will think you're avoiding them. But if you're honest, they can accommodate you by suggesting budget-friendly activities. Give them a chance to understand, even if it means an awkward conversation. Who knows – one of them might have problems too, but too scared to comment.

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