If your summer plans outpace your budget, you aren't alone. It's an expensive time of year for families. As we head into back-to-school time, you may be wondering how you'll find the extra money you'll need to finance your child's needs.
It's not too late to make a summer budget
One of the discouraging things about trying to stick to a budget is that your financial needs change from one season to the next. Unexpected expenses, emergencies, and bills that only come once a year can be difficult to fit into an otherwise well-organized budget.
Try making a special summer budget. Separate summer-only expenses from your year 'round expenses. Set aside extra money to pay for things on your summer bucket list that you haven't had a chance to do quite yet. If your list stretches further than your funds, prioritize it.
Summer 2019 Bucket List
#1: Overnight trip to Aunt Janice's farm $100
Gift for Janice: $15
Pet sitter: $30
#2: Day trip to waterpark $290
#3: Backyard campout sleepover with friends $80
Dinner and snacks: $50
Party favors: $30
Showing the list to the entire family and asking them to help prioritize is a great way to help kids understand that they may have to make choices about which activities are most important to them. If you have more than one child, consider talking with them separately to make sure they get an equal vote.
If your must-do activities are too expensive, try to find ways to cut corners. A trip to the waterpark can be costly, but if you pack a lunch instead of eating in the park, you could shave $50 off the cost of the trip. The kids may feel better if they can sit in the air-conditioned car and eat something nutritious, too.
As soon as you have the money to do the first thing on your bucket list, schedule it as soon as possible. Let the kids know that you are saving money for the next thing, so they can better understand when you say "no" to activities not on the list that may strain your budget.
Start saving now for back-to-school time
If you haven't already started setting aside money to cover back-to-school expenses, now is a great time. Even if you only save some of the money you'll need at the end of the summer to get the school supplies and clothes needed to start the school year off right, it will take the edge off this expensive time of year. Here are some quick ideas to help jump-start your savings:
- If you usually carry cash, put all of your $5 bills into a jar
- Look closely at the family budget and make temporary cuts to jump-start your savings, like eating out twice a month instead of once a week or reducing your weekly spending money by a few dollars
- Put a container by the area where you keep your keys, wallet, or purse and add to it whenever you have change
- Check out automatic savings apps, like Quapital, which automatically rounds up each purchase to the next dollar and deposits the money into a savings account
Summer can stress any family's budget, but with some careful planning and prioritization, you can help make the last few weeks of your child's summer vacation fun and exciting while you save for back-to-school expenses.