Your Midyear Money To-Do List

12 steps to getting your finances on track for the summer.


9. Make smart summer vacation plans. Minimize airline fees by traveling light and packing your own food, traveling at off-peak times, and using comparison sites to shop for the best deal. Tobias, who is also co-creator of the travel site, says many people overlook the pleasures of taking a road trip to a national or state park. "Camping is cheap, but even if you're not one to start your own fire, you can still pay for a nice stay at a park lodge or local bed and breakfast, neither of which should cost more than a standard hotel," he says.

If you have the flexibility to wait to book a trip until the last minute, you can snag great deals on cruises and hotels that need to fill empty rooms. And don't forget free summer activities from city-sponsored outdoor concerns, local library offerings, and post-dinner walks around the neighborhood.

10. Keep an eye on upcoming splurges. Christmas gifts, school tuition, and winter vacation are just a few costs that could be headed your way before the year is over. "A lot of people get excited about being outside and going on road trips, and they forget about what's coming up later," says Casey Weade, vice president of Howard Bailey Financial and a certified financial planner. He suggests factoring those fall and winter costs into your summer budget to prevent nasty surprises later.

11. Get creative with passwords. Tobias suggests changing passwords on a regular basis to keep thieves from hacking into your accounts. Tobias, who has been a victim of identity theft himself twice in the last year, urges people to take this simple step to protect themselves and possibly even enroll in a credit monitoring service.

12. Pick a pet project. If summer travel or reading exposes you to a global or local problem that you would like to help solve, learn all you can about it and commit to making a difference. Instead of saying "yes" and donating small amounts to friends' causes throughout the year, decide what your own priorities are so you feel like you are having the impact you want.

After completing this to-do list, you'll have earned that trip to the beach.

Twitter: @alphaconsumer