If you’re like me you thrive on the routine of the school year. As much as I love fun summer adventures I can’t wait for them to be on a set schedule that I can count on. With the new routine I know I have a handful of weeks before we’re in the thick of holiday parties so this year I wanted to be more on top of all the expenses that come along with this part of the year and I compiled a list of what I need to start planning for now that we’re back in the swing of things.
1. All things Halloween
It seems like no big deal but before you know it it’s October 30th and you need to buy 3 Halloween costumes at $30 a pop, 2 Costco sized bags of candy for giving out on Halloween to the trick-or-treaters plus another one for the school Halloween parties, and pumpkin patch entrance fee? Sure take more of my money for something that will start rotting the moment I take it home!
10 minutes spent planning out your October calendar and deciding what you’ll be participating in this year will save you from being the lady at Target the night before Halloween searching through the picked over costumes only to find the only thing they have left is $50 so you have to put it on a credit card. There’s no shame in deciding you simply don’t have the budget for Halloween this year so your kids will be wearing hand-me-down costumes and you’ll be turning off the lights on your porch and not handing out candy this year. Your kids will be happy you made that choice later when you’re financially well off enough to help with their first car or their college. I was Elvis for Halloween one year and I survived. True story.
2. Upcoming trips and vacations
I think we would all agree that vacations are so much more enjoyable when we’re not worrying about how we’re going to pay for them. If you’re planning on taking even just a little road trip this fall or winter now is the time to start setting money aside for it if you haven’t already. Take into account everything you’ll be spending money on. Planes, trains, automobiles, whatever. What about the extra food expense, gifts for the people you’re visiting, excursion money? Figure it all out now and break down how much you need to put aside per week before your trip happens.
While you’re at it, if you have summer vacations planned for next year, start figuring that out now too. Remember how stores put swim suits out in January? If they’re planning for summer you should be too!
The season of entertaining family and friends is quickly approaching. It never seems like that big of a deal until the day before and you’re at the store buying all the things and wondering how you’re going to afford to feed all these people. Even if you’re not hosting but you have 5 parties to attend and you’re bringing something to each of them, that’s more money that can wind up on a credit card if you’re not prepared.
Decide now where you’re going to be for each of the holidays. What do you need to make a priority and what can you skip if it’s just not feasible this year? If you’re hosting, don’t try to be Martha Stewart, a simple potluck is just fine. There’s plenty of time for you to bust out your pinterest board ideas when you get your budget under control.
You knew this one was coming right? Most people will wait until Black Friday and then start buying without a plan. Not you. You’re going to do things differently this year, right? You’re going to start saving now if you haven’t already so you can pay cash for Christmas. If you have no wiggle room in your budget to save, the good news is, if you start planning now, you can take on a side hustle, sell some stuff out of your garage, pick up some extra shifts at work, etc because Christmas will NOT be on a credit card this year, right?
This past Christmas we were on a super tight budget so I made it my mission to find the best deals on things for the kids. We decided not to do gifts for each other to save money. The best $5 I ever spent was for a gently used train table for my son that we gave him for Christmas last year and he turned it into his dinosaur table and has played with it non stop for the past year. You can still make them smile on a budget.
5. Emergency Savings
It would be great if you already had this in place, but if you don’t, now really is the time to do it. If you save for all 4 of these other things and then in November you have 2 cars break down, your heater dies, and an unexpected medical bill pops up, you’ll either have to drain your savings for the holidays or put it on a credit card. Neither of those options gives me the warm holiday feels. So plan for the worst and hope that it doesn’t happen. If it does you’ll be ready with your savings, if it doesn’t than just leave it there. The rain will come and you’ll be glad it’s there when it does.
There you have it. Plan your work and work your plan. I’m working on my plan today and will be counting down the days until I have pumpkin spice back in my life again. I should add that as number 6. Unofficially official.
6. Pumpkin Spice Savings