It’s hot and steamy outside, which means it’s the perfect time to curl up next to an air-conditioning vent and organize your finances. You can complete a midyear review of your accounts, check in on how your New Year’s goals are progressing and set some new priorities for the rest of the year.
Here are 15 suggestions from financial experts on what you should be doing right now to boost your bottom line:
1. Start plotting for that raise. Farnoosh Torabi, author of “When She Makes More,” says summer is the perfect time to stand out at the office, especially as co-workers start leaving early on Fridays or taking weeklong breaks. "Come fall, you'll have built some impressive momentum and can ask for that raise with even more confidence," she says.
2. Clean out your closet, and sell the leftovers. "It might be sweltering outside, but fall fashions are already hitting store shelves, so now is a great time to do a little closet cleaning," says Linda Descano, president and CEO of Women & Co., a website aimed at women and published by Citigroup. Then, she suggests, earn money by selling unwanted items at a secondhand shop or through eBay.
[See: 12 Ways to Save Money at Home.]
3. Make money through creative methods. Torabi suggests selling used electronics online through sites such as gazelle.com, hosting a large yard sale with a neighbor or, if you live in a destination popular among tourists, renting out your driveway to visitors through a site such as parkatmyhouse.com.
4. Don't be tempted by higher-yielding accounts. Helaine Olen, author of the personal finance book “Pound-foolish,” warns. "Any advisor or broker who promises to increase your return should be jettisoned at once." That's because increasing your yield requires taking on more risk – not something anyone should do with their short-term savings. She suggests keeping your money safe in a money-market fund or FDIC-insured bank account instead.
5. Take advantage of easy-to-use budgeting tools. To maximize your hours at the pool or beach, consider using an online budgeting tool that allows you to quickly see and manage all your accounts, from 401(k)s to mortgages to bank accounts, in one place, Descano suggests. That way, she says, you'll have an easy-to-access snapshot of your net worth.
6. Consider moving. Financial expert Carmen Wong Ulrich says homes can turn into people's biggest expense – and biggest headache. "It may be your culprit when it comes to never feeling like you can catch up or get ahead, financially or even professionally," she says. That's why she recommends thinking about whether downsizing makes sense and calculating how much you could save each month by doing so.
7. Get creative with "staycation" plans. If you decide to stay home to save money, then Ornella Grosz, author of “Moneylicious: A Financial Clue for Generation Y,” suggests using sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial to snag the best deals in your neighborhood.
8. Rethink the kids' getaway plans, too. Ulrich says it can be easy to continue signing up each year for the same summer camps, especially when early sign-up means a discount, but she says a change of routine can save money. "Research new camps now for next year, and ask around with other neighborhood parents for their take on other, possibly less pricey camps," she says. Plus, with so many educational camps, she says signing up for a school prep-like camp could result in lower tutoring costs during the school year.
9. Make use of credit card perks. Whether you're headed to a big city or beachside retreat, you might be able to rack up points on your credit card that will help pay for the trip. That includes discounts on airfare, hotels, luggage and even camera equipment, Descano says.