While many of us develop an effective monthly spending plan for our family, we fail to “plan ahead” for known exceptions to the normal routine of expenses. If we extend our budget out for longer periods to include occasional expenses, we can be prepared for the budget busters.
An occasional expense that is often overlooked, is summer break for kids. Once school is out, grocery bills increase, gas costs can increase, and utilities and other expenses all rise as the kids are no longer at school during the day. Since we know the last day of school, it is a good idea to anticipate spending for this timeframe. We can estimate not only our cash flows for this period, but we can estimate expenses to relieve stress. A great way to accurately estimate these expenses, is to use a money calendar to track monthly expenses throughout the year. Then we have a “diary” that we can review that will help to pre-plan for those expenses that only come occasionally or seasonally.
Another idea to explore is using the summer break as a learning opportunity to teach kids the relationship between working and income. Teenagers could “earn” their own spending money during this time by doing odd jobs in their neighborhood, such as doing odd jobs or running errands for those who have difficulty doing it for themselves. Mowing yards or other chores around the house have been staples of teenager workers for decades, so that is an option as well. If they are earning their own spending money and you are not having to pay anything, that is the same as saving for you as your spending plan is not being affected.
And finally, before school starts back in the fall, we must plan for the expenses the beginning of the school year presents as well. New school supplies, potentially new clothes for each student, fees for clubs and/or afterschool activities, along with the change of eating and other habits need to be considered. By having a thorough record of previous year’s budget exceptions, we can be ready and avoid the potential pitfalls of the unexpected.