4 sneaky summer expenses and how to avoid them

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(PIX11) — Summer sunshine can easily — and quickly — burn a hole in revelers’ pockets.

Here are four sneaky summer expenses and how to avoid them, according to “The Money Coach” Lynnette Khalfani-Cox:

Sneaky expense: The travel surcharge

During the summer time – aka, the prime travel season, airlines tickets cost more and hotel prices and rental car fares go up.

The financial fix: Tap into freebies

Use frequent flyer miles to cut into pricey airline tickets, and any rewards – like from credit cards – you may have accrued to nab free or discounted car rentals.

Ditch high-priced hotels for free accommodations via travel sites like HomeExchange.com or LoveHomeSwap.com, which says its members save about $3,500 per trip.

Sneaky expense: The “free trial offer” that’s not so free

Signing up for a gym membership or a book club or magazine subscription using free trial offers are a summer habit – there’s time to use the service and “free” gives users the justification they need.

But the problem comes when a service that was supposed to be a 30- or 60-day free trial offer appears as a sneaky monthly bill on your credit card.

The financial fix: Use the right credit card – or your calendar

A so-called free trial offer often will require you to provide a credit card. Make sure to use one that helps detect unwanted or unexpected charges, like a Capital One card, and alerts you with an email when it sees something strange.

The alert system is called Second Look and it flags certain recurring charges, like subscription renewals, so you can question the merchant about it or ask the bank to remove the charge.

If you don’t have such a card, the next best solution is to use your calendar wisely. Go online and set up a calendar notice as a reminder to tell you when to cancel a “free” product or service so you don’t get charged for it.

Sneaky expense: Backyard barbecues

Weekends and summer holidays are made for calling over friends and family for an outdoor feast. But the host typically foots the bill for food and many wind up spending a small fortune on extra furniture – like more law chairs, a new table or a high-tech grill.

The financial fix: Consider pot lucks and rentals

There’s no rule that says you have to feed a small army by yourself. Instead of springing for the entire meal and doing all the cooking, make it a potluck and ask your guests to contribute their own delicacies.

This can slash your food budget by up to 75 percent.

Also, resist the urge to buy new outdoor furniture. Instead, you can rent chairs on the cheap or borrow needed furniture ahead of time from a family member, friend or neighbor.

The sneaky expense: Rentals and borrowed items

Summer means more leisure time, which can be tempting to fill with cheap entertainment like borrowed books or rental movies. But without factoring your lifestyle and movie-watching habits, this cheap entertainment could become pricey.

Are you the type of person to rent a movie at 7 p.m. and watch it that night? Or are you more likely to hang onto the movie for days, racking up late fees?

The same goes for books borrowed from the library.

The financial fix: Be honest with yourself and plan wisely

Return rented and borrowed items on time to avoid overdue penalties, and set up a calendar alert to remind you – with plenty of notice – to give your items back.