As the weather (finally) warms up, most of us are ready to leave hibernation and enjoy some activities the winter weather may have discouraged us from doing. You may think it is time to get out and spend, but really, the better weather and your renewal of positive energy can help you save. As you shed the winter coat, consider the below ways to spring clean your finances, boost savings and have more money by summer.
1. Create a Target
Whether you want to have a great spring break trip on a budget, need to contribute more to your retirement fund, or just think your checking account could use some TLC, it’s a good idea to first set attainable goals. Take a look at your current credit standing (you can get two free credit scores, updated every 30 days, on Credit.com), check your credit reports and evaluate your budget. Look for areas you can cut back, set a target you want to reach by June and write it down (to help keep you accountable!). Consider using financial tools and making savings automatic to really ramp up your accounts and see quick growth.
2. Know What to Buy — & When
While the goal is to cut back on spending and ramp up on savings, there are certain items that make more financial sense to buy in the spring. It’s important to do your research to find the items that are on sale or at their lowest price in March, April, May and June. You may also want to look into winter gear for next year now — end-of-season sales can have winter boots and coats at a deep discount. If you are looking to buy a home, spring is usually when inventory is highest.
3. Tune Up Your AC
With spring cleaning and warmer weather come some opportunities to save money by cutting back on energy use. One tip experts often cite is keeping your air-conditioning filters clean. This will improve your air quality and utilize your system as efficiently as possible. You can also check other features like coolant levels. Consider hiring a professional if your system needs maintenance so you are not wasting money on an overworked AC when it really heats up. It can also be a good idea to think about making an investment in a programmable thermostat that controls temperature and, in turn, cooling costs.
4. Take Advantage of Windfalls
If you are lucky enough to collect some “found money” this spring, don’t be tempted into spending it all in one place. Tax refunds, inheritances or bonuses from work can instead be put toward emergency funds or retirement nest eggs.
5. Find Low-Cost Fun
The better weather is not an excuse to spend on lavish courtyard meals and expensive vacations. Instead, try playing sports in the park, picnicking, hiking, planting a vegetable garden or even just going for a walk in your neighborhood. These options take advantage of the spring weather without costing a fortune.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.