8. Throw yourself a paperwork party. If paperwork has been piling up since winter, consider engaging in a little early summer cleaning. Regina Leeds, the "zen organizer" and author of One Year to an Organized Life, suggests setting up a file system to easily store receipts that pile up throughout the year. If your filing system looks a little ragged, consider spending an hour tossing or shredding what you don't need and putting the rest online. Check that your most important documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, are stored in an archival box or locked metal file cabinet that's separate from your day-to-day files, advises Leeds. (See How to Spring Clean Your Finances.)
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 ishouldlogoff.com, 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.