Polls / May 7, 2014

In which season do you spend the most money?

The majority of respondents to an eZonomics online poll say summer is the season in which they spend the most money. Winter is the second most commonly named “most expensive” season.

The summer of … spending
Think of summer and the thoughts might include a holiday, a renovation of your home, going to friends’ weddings and other wonderful experiences. These can be the types of moments memories are made of. And particularly if they are budgeted for – and don’t push revellers into unwanted debt – they can be happy times that bring a smile for years to come.

Interestingly, research into Dutch holidaymakers suggests that in addition to making financial sense, planning ahead might actually enhance the experience. This is because many people get enjoyment from looking forward to an event in anticipation. Winter season costs may also include a holiday, housing repairs (such as frozen water pipes), heating and – depending on your hemisphere – Christmas and the New Year.

Do we spend more when it’s sunny?
But not only do there tend to be a lot of (enjoyable but) costly events in the summer, there is some discussion about whether sunshine encourages people to spend. In 2010, the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services published a study by Kyle Murray and others that found temperature, humidity, snowfall, and, especially sunlight, can affect retail sales.

In contrast, however, academic research from the United States analysed almost 12,000 receipts from a restaurant from a time period spanning two years to see if diners left larger tips when it was sunny. Authors Sean Flynn and Adam Greenberg found sunny days did not significantly affect the amount left as a tip.

Budget on the seasons
Even the best budgeter will probably have moments when expenses rise - as well as less expensive months. A key is to make a basic budget that takes variable expenses into account. Moreover, leave a little extra leeway. Usual and infrequent items, the “exceptional” expenses (think a lavish dinner while on holiday or going to a wedding), usually get excluded from future budget planning (as detailed here).

If you have an expensive season coming up, check your financial reserves. After all, it will come around again in less than a year.

SavingBudgetBehaviourHappiness

eZonomics team
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