Usually, we want things to function like clock-work. If you have a monthly budget, you might be tempted to make it fit each and every month of the year. If you go over budget, you feel like you’ve failed.
But the thing is, for many of us the year is broken up into different seasons, and our budgets have to be created in a way that fits those changes. Budgets are seasonal! How can you make your budget work all year long, so that you don’t feel like a failure when your monthly spending gets out of whack? Here are five quick tips.
1. Talk With Kids About Seasonal Sports
One big item that can seem to throw your budget off is seasonal sports. It can be a challenge to plan for this, since a child might be involved in different activities year to year. If your kiddo begs to play an expensive sport like hockey, or is dying to participate in horseback riding lessons, talk to them about the money involved.
What can your child do to pay for some of the equipment themselves? Are there any scholarships available, or any other expenses they are willing to cut? Make this into a family project rather than one you feel your budget has to miraculously absorb.
2. Look At Your Energy Bill From Last Year
If you live in a hot climate and have AC, you spend more in the summer months, and people in cold climates have higher energy bills in the winter. The length of the day also affects your energy bill (you’ll use more artificial lighting as the days get shorter). Factor this into your budget so that you allocate more money for energy during the months that you use the most.
3. Brainstorm About Your Budget-Busters
Everyone has their own budget busters. People who live in the Northwest, for example, might find that they spend more money during the few months of the year when there is less rainfall. Backyard barbecue, anyone? If you’re not careful, those seasonal habits can catch you off guard and leave you short.
If you think about them ahead of time, you’ll be able to set aside the right amount for enough hot-dogs, hamburgers, and marshmallows to feed the entire neighborhood until the rainy season strikes again.
4. Track Year Round
It really pays off to figure out your year-round spending patterns. Track your spending habits and see what is happening for you month to month. This will completely depend on your living situation and environment, and no one can give you this information because it will be uniquely yours.
5. Stay Positive
Consider overspending a learning experience. When you spend more than you budgeted for, don’t feel like you’ve failed. Instead play the role of a detective and try to see why, exactly, you went over budget. From season to season we eat, entertain, and recreate differently. You might use the car less in the summer, when the kids don’t have to travel to away games. You could find that you’ve completely misjudged your heating expenses. This is all valuable information!
Those of us with children, especially, experience the rise and fall of expenses according to the seasons. Anyone who has ever gone back-to-school shopping, or had to buy all new winter gear for the kids knows that every month is not the same. Do you agree that budgets are seasonal? Leave your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the comments below!