Financial Stress Could Dampen Summer Spirits

May 20, 2014 ( – While summer has traditionally been associated with rest and relaxation, many Americans now equate summer with financial stress, a survey finds.

Nearly six in 10 (59%) respondents to the survey from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) say their financial stress during the summer matches or exceeds levels experienced during the year-end holiday season. A majority of U.S. adults (55%) said they do not have a vacation on the calendar this year. For those with summer vacation plans, 41% expect to pay an average of $3,000 for related costs such as transportation, lodging, meals, activities, entertainment and pet care.

“When you pay for a vacation with a credit card, you come back with more than photos. You come back with debt, and your vacation could wind up costing considerably more than you had budgeted,” says Ernie Almonte, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, based in New York.

The survey revealed women tend to make less of a financial splash on summer vacation than men, with the men expecting to spend an average of $3,200 and women expecting to spend $2,800.

For parents, the financial stress of summer is even greater. Most parents of children younger than 17 (62%) anticipate paying an average of $1,400 for their children’s summer activities including sports camp, day camp, sleep-away camp, tutoring and academic courses, group day care, and in-home child care. For 23% of parents, that cost may include a weekly allowance averaging $19.

The National CPA Financial Literacy Commission offers some tips for saving for or reducing upcoming expenses:

  • Create your summer budget now. Get out your calendar and make a list of: planned activities and related costs; registration fees; uniform costs; amusement park entry fees; and pool memberships. Knowing how much you need now will give you a goal and keep up motivation to keep saving.
  • Don’t be a weekend warrior. Avoid the weekend rush when you can. Plan mid-week adventures, since everything from amusement parks to golf outings are usually less crowded and cheaper during this time. Very often hotels and rental cars are discounted during weekdays.
  • Hunt for discount coupons. Never pay full price for water and theme parks or other entertainment. Look for deals in the form of discount coupons at supermarkets, convenience stores and even hotel brochure racks.
  • Look for freebies. When choosing accommodations for your vacation, ask: Does the hotel offer complimentary transportation to the airport, restaurants, or local attractions? Does the rate include breakfast?
  • Clean out and sell. Sell unwanted items on eBay or Craigslist or have a garage sale. This helps fund the vacation and gets rid of clutter at the same time.

Additional tips about how to save money for and on summer activities are available at

The telephone survey was conducted by Harris Interactive, on behalf of the AICPA, between March 21 and 23. More than 1,000 U.S. adults (501 men and 504 women age 18 and older) were surveyed.