Summer is such a great time of year, and that normally means you begin to think about your vacation budget. Summer months seem to take away any of the blues and fill you up with sunshine, watermelon and loads of fun; people are more active, full of life and smiles, and generally feeling carefree and happy. Watch out, though, because this carefree attitude can turn to carelessness if you're only paying attention to the sunshine and not your money.

Money is important all times of the year and in all seasons. It never stops flowing and summertime can catch you off-guard with outflow being more than inflow in just a matter of weeks if you don't keep a watchful eye, especially if you'll be entertaining summer guests.

Here are 4 strategies to keep your summer numbers and your vacation budget in check while being a good host to your visitors:

Pre-Plan Meals

Before your guests arrive, plan the meals you'll be eating. Write down the menu for each day and pre-make dishes (like pasta and potato salads) before your guests arrive. This will actually help you experience a more enjoyable and relaxing visit instead of being in the kitchen cooking more than you really may want to be. Decide which evening(s) and how many times you'll go out to dinner. Let your vacation budget dictate this. If you can only afford to go out once, than there's no reason to feel any guilt about doing so, and if you can't afford to go out at all, then focus on inexpensive daytime fun and return home for a nice dinner together.

Do The In Thing!

What's great about summertime is that barbecuing is the in thing! This is fairly easy on the vacation budget. It doesn't have to be expensive steak or lobster but yummy chicken, fish or kabobs will be a hit instead. Make a side pasta or potato salad to compliment the meal served with some watermelon to make everyone happy! People love this kind of food in summertime and having this kind of meal really brings people together, all at a reasonable price.

Research Pays Off

If you live near the coast, an evening stroll or day at the beach, especially if your guests have kids, is an inexpensive way to have fun. If you live a little more inland, check out where you might find some cool monuments or museums to visit. Researching things to do, as well as the cost for such before your guests arrive will help keep your summertime numbers in check. Be sure to only suggest those ideas you know you can afford.

Relax and Enjoy

Here's the truth - your guests came to see and spend time with you, so it's not about taking them to the finest restaurants or feeding them the most expensive foods. Nobody is keeping a tally. How much you spend on your guests does not equate to how much you care about them. Focus on the relationship and having fun right in your own back yard. Take out your kids' croquet set and you'll see how much fun everyone has-kids and adults (I did this recently)! Play a game of badminton or have fun passing a frisbee. Having this kind of fun brings people together and that's why these people you care about and call friends have really come to visit you!

Don't let having fun during the summer months blow your spending plan. If you follow the tips above, you'll have little problem maintaining your vacation budget.

Author's Bio: 

Financial Coach Cindy Parran Brochu helps the financially stressed to simplify their money lives. Want to discover money plan strategies that REALLY work? Visit for your free copy of Money Mastery 101: How to Reduce Your Money Stress and Simplify Your Life.