Summer jobs are a golden opportunity for students to earn money, gain practical work experience and develop financial skills. Many students take on a summer job or internship while on break from school, and that income can help contribute to financial goals, like paying college tuition.

Saving money during the summer months holds particular importance, as inflation has significantly impacted consumers’ budgets and summer travel plans. A recent Bankrate survey found that 62 percent of people who can’t afford a summer vacation this year attribute it to increased prices.

By developing savings strategies and keeping these tips in mind, students can ensure that they have the financial freedom to have fun and avoid disruptions to their summer plans, while making strides toward financial goals.

1. Set clear financial goals

Define your financial goals early on to have an intentional idea of what you’re saving for.

Break down your goals into smaller, achievable milestones, setting clear targets for how much you want to save by the end of summer. Some of the goals you might be saving toward in between school years are:

  • Textbooks
  • Tuition fees
  • A summer trip
  • Emergency fund

2. Create a summer budget

Drafting a budget for the summer months allows you to allocate your income effectively and stick to a savings plan. Make a list of your anticipated summer expenses, including housing, utilities, transportation, food and entertainment.

You might need to adjust some elements of your typical budget to account for seasonal changes. Will you need to allocate more money to electricity bills because of air conditioning? Are there summer weddings or summer trips you’ll need to factor in?

3. Take advantage of low-cost summer activities

One area of a budget where you might want to reduce spending for the summer is leisure activity, especially when the warm weather season offers more potential for free activities.

Some ideas include:

  • Picnics or barbecues in the park
  • A hike or bike ride through nature
  • A beach outing
  • Outdoor community events and festivals

4. Lower transportation costs

Consider using alternative transportation to save on commuting costs. With the warmer weather, it might be possible to bike or walk to nearby destinations. Public transportation passes or carpooling with friends can also reduce your overall transportation spending.

5. Cook your own meals

Summer break is a great time to hone your cooking skills, since preparing meals at home can save you a bundle over eating out or ordering in. It also allows you to make healthier choices. Try experimenting with budget-friendly, nutritious recipes using seasonal ingredients.

Also consider packing a lunch for work or summer classes to avoid expensive cafeteria or restaurant meals.

6. Find summer discounts for students

Many businesses offer discounts to students during the summer. Keep an eye out for student discounts at clothing stores, digital retailers and online platforms. Local gyms may also offer discounted summer membership rates for students.

7. Minimize energy use

With longer days and warmer temperatures, take advantage of natural light and limit your use of air conditioning by turning it off when you’re not home. Unplug electronic devices when not in use, reduce shower time and clean your air conditioning units to maximize their efficiency. These small steps can help you reduce your monthly utility bills.

8. Automate your savings

Automating your savings simplifies the saving process and reduces the risk of forgetting to save or being tempted to spend your summer job earnings. Typically, automated saving tools come with a mobile banking app, or you could download a third-party savings app and link it to your bank accounts.

With an automated saving tool, you can schedule a fixed amount or percentage of your paycheck to be transferred directly to your savings account. Alternatively, you could have automatic transfers of a specified amount made on a regular basis, such as bi-weekly or monthly.

9. Open a high-yield savings account

You may already have a savings account, but when was the last time you researched how it compares to other accounts? There’s a chance you could be earning a lot more on what you save from your summer job simply by finding an account with a higher annual percentage yield (APY).

Many of the highest-yielding accounts are online. They’re typically easy to open, can be managed from your phone and don’t charge a monthly fee. Look into some of the top-yielding savings accounts to see how your current account compares, and consider switching over to get the best returns.

Bottom line

Maximizing your summer job earnings as a student requires planning, smart decision-making and a degree of self-control. While finding areas to cut down on costs can give you more room to save, you can also boost your savings in ways that don’t require much effort, such as by opening a high-yield savings account or using digital banking tools. Make sure to have a plan for the long run and remind yourself of your goals to help motivate you to stick to a budget.