If You've Had a Summer Budget Fail, Read This Before Summer Begins

15 May 2017 Written by   Published in Peaks Financial Fitness

A couple of weeks ago the weather was very rainy, and we stayed inside a lot. I started noticing how filthy the walls in my house were. They had layers of dirt, dust, handprints, marker, pen, crayon, boogers, and mold. I hadn’t noticed them gradually get so dirty. Have you had an experience like that? I decided to wash the walls and the windows of our house. As I’ve scrubbed boogers and crayon off the walls this past week, I have had a lot of time to think. As I felt the sun’s warmth coming through the windows, my thinking drifted to summer.

I’ve had a few summer plans fall through already. We were planning to host a foreign exchange student, but we were not picked. We signed Jackie (11) up for a camp, which ended up being full. I like to have plans. My friends tease me about it. I’ve had plenty of summers where the spending plan failed. I’ve come to the conclusion that budgeting for summer is different than budgeting for the rest of the year. Trying to budget for summer in the same way that I budget for the rest of the year doesn’t work.

Although we don’t have school lunch or school expenses, there are other expenses that can make school expenses seem cheap. My kids brought home fliers for a dozen different summer camps. There is a camp for almost everything. We also have summer vacations, pool passes, drive-in movies, memberships, and holiday parties available to spend our money. With the warm weather, we may want to buy gear for our outdoor hobbies. It’s also a time to work on outside projects. Ty’s trip to Lowe’s last week caused a budgeting challenge this month.

Summer expenses are harder for us to predict than expenses during the other seasons of the year.

They just are! Has this been true for your family? I have accepted this, but this year I am going to embrace the unpredictability. I’m going to plan on it! I’m not going to fight it. That doesn’t mean that our budgets have to fail, but it does mean that I need to budget differently.

What unexpected events have you experienced in past summers? We have family visit during the summer. I didn’t expect to spend much money because I wasn’t on vacation, but we did activities with them. This year, I need to plan on spending money on those activities. One of my friends told me that she had family come for several months and the activities started to cost too much, so they had to say no to some of the activities, which is okay too. Just like the rest of the year, we have to say no to some of the summer opportunities.

Budgeting requires flexibility. Summer budgeting requires more flexibility!

I briefly mentioned the trip to Lowe’s. My husband is finishing the garden fence and backyard patio. The supplies cost $320. That amount of money could really break a rigid budget, and honestly, I started to wig out. Before I approached my husband about the expense, I took some deep breaths. The deep breathing made me realize that I needed to allow more flexibility. I wasn’t able to predict this expense, but that is okay. It opened up a conversation with my husband. We discussed what budget category it would come from since we didn’t have that much money in our repairs fund. Should we use our emergency fund? It wasn’t an emergency. Were there other categories with money that we could move to the repairs fund? We had saved to replace an engine in our 1975 Volkswagen thing, which has been sitting in our garage for years. We discussed using that money for the outside repairs, but Ty is planning on getting it running.. Thankfully, we were a month ahead (using last month’s income to pay this month’s expense). We decided to use that money. It wasn’t the ideal, but budgeting isn’t a perfect process, and if I try to make it perfect, it will fail. Embrace imperfect budgeting. Budgets will work if we embrace it.

Summer income.

Summer expenses aren’t the only thing that can fluctuate. Income can too. Summer may give more time to earn extra income. My darling nieces and their family bought a shave ice shack last year and sold shaved ice. My cousin photographs families. My neighbor teaches classes online. Another neighbor lifeguards in the summer. My cousin-in-law prints logos on shirts. These friends inspire me to use the flexibility of summer to create income.

Summer is right around the corner. What are your plans to make sure your budget doesn’t go on summer vacation?

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