During the school year, you’re laser-focused on your students and your work responsibilities. But come summertime, you finally have a chance to focus on you.
Whether you want to tackle a big home project or reassess your finances, head out on a much-needed vacation, or just kick back and relax for a change, your summer is a blank slate. What will you do?
Here are a few ideas for smart ways you can spend your break, plus some benefits for NEA members that can help you make the most of your time off.
You’ve been on the go since last fall, and dealing with large-scale changes when COVID-19 emerged added more stress and challenges to the school year. It’s important to take time now to slow down, step back and relax for a bit. Check out this 3-step process that’ll help you unwind, reassess and recharge.
By allowing yourself to rest, build some healthy habits and tend to your own needs, you’ll be ready to go by the first day of the next school year.
2. Take a vacation
Yes, you really do need to take a vacation, whether that’s in your home state, somewhere within the U.S., or, if you feel comfortable, venturing outside the country. Get expert advice on what you need to know to book vacation plans and travel now, and find out what your fellow NEA members who were surveyed think about traveling now and in the future.
If you want to stay close to home and save money, check out these inexpensive family-friendly adventure ideas, or take online tours of museums, art galleries and more. Fitness fiends can hit these challenging bike trails. Nature lovers can explore little-known wonders nestled across the U.S., or spend the night on a beachfront campground.
Wherever summer takes you, your NEA Member Benefits can help. We offer access to discounts on your travel booking needs, including hotels, airfare, rental cars, group tours and more, as well as a free monthly e-newsletter with travel tips and special discounts. Find out more on our Travel & Vacations resource page.
When you book your travel, be sure to use your NEA Cash Rewards Card. You can maximize your purchase by choosing to earn your 3% cash back that month on travel purchases.
3. Plan now for next summer’s vacation
If you’re scrambling to lock in this summer’s travel plans now, do yourself a favor and plan ahead for next summer’s trip. Research destinations, determine your budget, and start setting aside money so you can travel where you want without going into debt. In addition to using our travel booking resources, you can open a savings account now to start building your vacation nest egg.
4. Assess your finances
Reviewing your money situation isn’t necessarily relaxing, but getting a handle on your financial situation will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you identify areas for improvement that you can get started on now. It also can help you survive the summer paycheck gap if you aren’t on a 12-month pay cycle and avoid undesirable short-term loans.
Get your monthly budget under control with our printable tracker sheets, free for NEA members. With a little legwork, you can probably reduce some monthly expenses. Your NEA membership even gives you access to discounted wireless services from AT&T.
If you have a lot of debt, consider consolidating it into one credit card or personal loan with a lower interest rate to save money every month. Plus, making one easy payment can reduce the likelihood of being hit with late fees. Check out your consolidation options through the NEA Personal Loan, the NEA RateSmart Card and the NEA Cash Rewards Card.
Next, review your insurance policies to make sure you are adequately covered and not overpaying for unnecessary coverage. If you need to change or update any coverage, check out the NEA Auto & Home Insurance Program and our wide range of life insurance options.
If your children are heading to college or grad school in the fall, you may be trying to figure out how to cover the costs and realize you need help to foot the bill. If so, we offer several student loan options that can help parents and students afford the education they deserve.
And if you’re still dealing with paying off your student loan debt, see if refinancing your loans is a good option for you, find out how you might be able to get on the path to forgiveness, and use our debt navigator tool to help you research your repayment reduction and loan forgiveness options.
Retirement may seem a long way off, but it’s critical to ensure you’re saving enough now. First, do a quick assessment of your situation with our 5-Minute Retirement Calculator, then check out some of our retirement resources to help you plan and save, including the NEA Retirement Program.
5. Move before the school year starts
If you’re considering moving, now’s a good time to do it while you have the time to focus on it. Check out our home-buying resources for mortgage-related benefits and tips on what you need to know before you buy, how to succeed in a competitive sellers’ market, expert advice on buying and selling amid coronavirus concerns, house-hunting tips educators need to consider and more.
6. Tackle home-improvement projects
You finally can dedicate some time to updating your home, either for yourself or to appeal to potential buyers. First, figure out if you’ll do the work yourself or hire a contractor. If you need to hire someone, do your homework so you can find a good one.
NEA Member Benefits has several solutions that can help you update your house. For example, you can find deals on a variety of appliances through the GE Appliances Store. You also can buy now and pay later interest-free through the new NEA Easy Pay shopping program on everything from home furnishings to kitchen appliances and electronics.
If you need to bankroll your home-improvement projects, you could put smaller tabs on your NEA Cash Rewards Card (be sure to choose to earn 3% cash back on home improvements and furnishings that month!) or larger loans on the NEA Personal Loan.
7. Make some extra money
You could spend some time supplementing your income during the summer—on your own terms. One option to explore is turning your hobby into a part-time gig, or you could declutter your home and turn excess items into fast cash.
8. Start a few healthy habits
Now’s a good time to focus on your well-being, which can include breaking bad habits (bye-bye, stress eating and nail biting!) to creating good ones (improving your diet and sleep habits and committing to adopt smart financial habits).
One more good habit to create now: Check neamb.com regularly to see how your membership benefits can help you achieve your goals, from saving money on everyday items you need, to saving up for the big stuff like a new home or your dream retirement.