Even the most frugal budgeters can throw caution to the wind when summer vacation season rolls around. As I’ve mentioned before, summer causes many people to lose track of their finances, with an average of 74% of Americans going into debt for a vacation. That said, the warm temperatures and longer days are actually conducive to saving, with many opportunities you won’t find other months of the year. Here are the top ways to take advantage of the season and save money.

1. Let the summer breeze dry your laundry for you.

This is perhaps the only energy conserving tip that will leave your clothes feeling and smelling amazingly fresh. Hang your laundry outside to let the sun do the drying for you, and save money along the way. On average, drying a small load of clothes in the dryer adds $0.36 to your electricity bill, and every penny counts.

2. Plan ahead to get the most from end-of-season sales.

You’ll need to buy clothes for colder weather eventually — doing it now can help you cut the costs significantly. Many stores offer discounts as big as 50% on jackets, boots, gloves, and other clothes. On a similar note, planning next year’s gardening project now can help you save. Tools and materials for landscaping and gardening tend to go down as autumn approaches, so take stock of what you’ll need in advance. (While we’re on the topic of gardening, growing your own food in the summer is another great way to cut regular expenses.)

3. Get the grill out.

Cooking outside isn’t just a great way to entertain and spend time with family and friends — it’s also a smart financial choice. Cooking inside requires air conditioning and the oven, which consume the most energy of household appliances. Odds are that when you heat up the house by using the oven on a hot summer day, you’re tempted to crank up to AC to cool down. Keep the following tips in mind to make sure you’re grilling efficiently.

– Prep food in advance, and don’t start the grill until the food is ready.
– Keep warm-up time to a minimum — a good rule of thumb is 20 minutes for charcoal grills and 5 minutes for gas ones.
– Only use the burners you need.
– When you’re done, turn it off. One of the biggest ways people waste energy when grilling is letting it sit after the food is ready. Any gas or charcoal you save can be used for future barbecues.

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