Memorial Day is a time to honor those lost in wars past and present. This somber occasion also marks the unofficial beginning of summertime. As the heat of the dog days fast approaches, here are some easy ways to cut back on expenditures.

As taps rings out, and marching bands parade all over America, the country will celebrate Memorial Day. This annual event is both a time to pay tribute to the heroes who've made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and to slide into summertime.

After a particularly harsh winter that affected most of the country, the warm days of summer will be heartily welcomed. To save a little extra money for a long weekend or summer vacation, follow these seasonal financial tips.

It's all about conditioning

With energy costs skyrocketing, the less you use your air conditioner, the better. To minimize the amount you run summertime's most valued appliance, take steps to keep the cool in and the heat out. Draw your shades during the day. Install ceiling fans, and run them at night to keep you cool. If you must run the a/c, set the thermostat higher when the family is out of the house.

Annual maintenance of your air conditioner is highly recommended. A technician can make sure that you have enough Freon in your unit, and that it's running at peak efficiency. Change your furnace filter once each month. Even though you're using your air conditioner, the furnace is the mechanism that moves the air through the house. An obstructed filter will slow your airflow.

Take advantage of the great outdoors

The outdoors offers more than scenic views and fresh air. It also provides natural cooling for cooking and laundry. Instead of running the oven inside and making your air conditioner work even harder, use an outdoor grill for cooking. You can use the conventional washing machine to clean your clothes, but hang the laundry outside on a clothesline to dry. A nice summer breeze will not only save you some extra dollars on your energy bill, but will have your clothing smelling sunshine fresh.

Shop at season's end

If your lawn mower is on its last legs, or you've got your eye on some new gardening tools, avoid the impulse to snatch them up early in the summer. Instead, try to make it through the rest of the season with what you already own. Make your purchase at the end of the season, when hardware stores put summer merchandise on sale.

While flags are being raised on Memorial Day, you can lower your financial costs by following these smart summertime tips. Cut back on your energy costs, and buy seasonal mechanical items after Labor Day. You'll enjoy the greens of summer even more when other greens are resting comfortably in your wallet.

Published on May 26, 2008