While the onset of the Spring season and the New Year are often associated with new beginnings and a fresh start, the Fall is also a time when many new chapters and experiences begin. For us, it means our kids start back to school, and some of our friend’s children start school for the first time. Fall also means that many adults head back to work after some well-needed summer relaxation and for some adults, they begin new chapters in their careers or personal lives as well.
As the Fall is nearly here (sorry, but unfortunately this reality can’t be avoided much longer) – this is as good a time as any to revisit your budget and your spending as you move into the next season. Again, in our household, the last couple weeks of summer typically involve going shopping for back to school clothes and supplies, and while we do our best to find bargains, these expenses do add up rather quickly.
Furthermore, at this time of year we also have our previous summer expenses wearing down our finances quite a bit as well. Regardless of whether we went away on holiday, spend money on summer camps, activities, and child care, these costs also contribute to our bills and impact our debt level as well. Knowing what we are dealing with, we especially want to start the fall off on the right foot this year and get our finances in better shape before we get busy with all of our many fall-commitments and expenses.
As we move towards the final few weeks and days of the summer months, here are some budgeting tips that should help get your financial situation on track once again. I think it is especially important here to start the new season off right by going back to the basics of budgeting.
What to include in your Budget:
To setup your new budget, you can start by making a list of all of the essential payments, such as food, gas, and all of your other monthly bills and loan payments. Next up are the non-essential expenses that may include entertainment, travel, and savings plans and you can add all of them to your list too.
The second step will be to estimate how much you are likely to spend on each of these expenses and right down this value. For many, you will likely already know the exact cost, however for some you may have to do a little bit of guesswork. It also never hurts to inflate this amount, just to be on the safe side -and allow yourself some financial leeway.
As you compose your budget and you have a visual of the entire month or time period, you can then look for areas where you can reduce your costs or cut back on your spending.
How to Reduce your Spending
Identifying areas where you can reduce your spending each month, identifying if you can be frugal in any areas in your life. This will also help you as you fine tune your fall budget. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your current spending and as you rethink some of these current expenditures, you can find areas where you can save more money and improve your finances.
1) Do I compare costs of different brands and services?
2) Do I eat out too much and not cook enough at home?
3) Do I take advantage of coupons and other shopping deals?
4) Is there a less expensive store in my area I can shop at instead?
5) Do I really need that item or services this month? or at all?
6) Do I use my credit card too much? Can I use cash or debt instead?
7) Can I reduce my household costs, such as electricity and hydro?
8) Do I take good care of my personal items and property, such as clothing, vehicle, electronics, etc?
9) Can I save more on gas by carpooling or taking transit?
10) Am I getting the best interest rates available?
There are no doubt many more questions you can ask yourself with regards to ways you can reduce your monthly spending – these are some of the ways that I think will be useful to our family budget and overall financial situation. I am sure many will also apply to you and your personal situation and lifestyle as well. While it might not seem like a whole lot of fun, re-establishing your budget is a very beneficial way to maximize your income and make it stretch as far as you can each month as well as each year.
With the Fall months on the horizon and more expenses sure to follow, identifying areas of your daily spending as well as your general lifestyle can help you in many cases save quite a lot of extra money that can go towards paying down your debts as well as your future savings.
As you look to the next season, you can rest assured that you are better prepared to face your Fall finances head on and now all you have to do is out your feet up and enjoy the rest of the warm summer weather while it lasts!