6 Quick Tips to Get Your Money Back on Track this Fall

As summer grinds to a halt and the kids are a few weeks into school, let’s take a look at the summer finances. Were you able to stay within your fun budget, or did you end up using credit cards to survive summer splurges?
After a random Facebook poll, I found that many people don’t budget. Most relied on tax refunds or bonuses to pay for summer fun. Some opted out of doing an activity if it was too expensive. Others used credit cards, but only if they could pay them off at the end of the month.

Tips from Budget Warriors

Of those who stayed on track this summer, here are their suggestions.

● One family has their yearly expenses as a line item in their monthly budget. They mapped out the whole year last December to include budgets for vacations and camps. They then added it up and divided it by 12. Whatever was leftover they saved for fun extras.
● One dad used a cost-benefit analysis of expected fun versus cost. This helped him decide if it was worth doing, should we do it again or should we choose something else? He measured the qualitative versus quantitative aspects of all summer activities.
● My family used an Excel spreadsheet and broke down our 20-ish budgeted items (car, house, food, clothing, vacations, gas, utilities, miscellaneous spending, charity, etc.). We’ve learned that by the end of each year, we are a couple hundred dollars under where we thought we’d be, not because we meticulously budgeted but because we were careful with our spending.

If you’ve lived in the moment this summer, all is not lost. Play a savings game and start saving for next summer. Here are some ideas:

● Throw your loose change in a jar and roll it or take it to the bank to have it counted.
● When you break a larger bill, save the five-dollar bills and put them in a separate envelope.
● If you allow yourself some fun money every week and don’t spend it all, instead of rolling it over to the next week, put the extra bills in another jar or envelope to save.
● Try using an app, like Acorns, that allows you to round up purchases. The overage is put into your savings account.

You might surprise yourself by how much money you can save, and it could be enough for an unexpected treat next summer.

At the end of the day, it’s not about where you go, but the memories you make. So, whether it’s a staycation, a weekend getaway to the beach or a trip to visit extended family, your children will remember time spent together as a family.