By Kevin Gibbons
We are now at the middle of summer. Actually, we are probably past the middle. Back when I was in school, we didn’t start the school year until after Labor Day; but now school starts in mid-August, so we are past the midpoint for many families. So, how are you doing on your summer plans? I had grand expectations to spend the summer building things for some major fall projects, doing home and yard improvement and spending “quality time” with my wife around our disparate work schedules. I’ve hit on some of my objectives and missed on others.
Summertime can be challenging to plan for, both in terms of time and money. We usually start the summer with plans for a number of “non-standard” activities that can stress our finances and cash flow. Creating a spending plan, looking at when your income comes in and when you expect to incur these added expenses can be helpful to get the most out of your time and keep your spending under control.
Whether you created this plan at the beginning of summer or not, this midpoint is a good time to check in and make your plan for the rest of the season. If you have not accomplished what you thought you would have done by this time, you need to look at your expected time and cash flow for the rest of the summer. Are you going to try to cram 3 months’ of activities and expenses in the next six weeks? Do you have the resources to do that? Or are you going to triage, picking the things that you really want to do before fall and making sure you have the time and money to do those?
There’s nothing wrong with realizing that events can take over the best plans, that goals and opportunities change. In most cases, you are better off adjusting those plans so you can enjoy the remaining time without stressing yourself or your bank account. But in order to do that, you have to know where you stand today. So, put together a short-term spending plan for the next 6-8 weeks. If you already have a yearly plan, then all you are doing is taking a small slice of it and adding some detail to really hone in on the rest of the summer. If you don’t have a yearly plan, try putting one together for this shorter time period. You may find it more manageable to lay out your income and expected expenses for this short period than trying to tackle the whole year.
In its simplest form, this short-term spending plan is a calendar, where you put down when you are getting paid, when you expect to incur fixed expenses (like paying the rent or mortgage, paying utilities, buying food for the family, etc.) and then when you can incur the special expenses associated with your summer plans. You want to time-phase your summer savings, your income and your expenses to make sure you never spend more money than you have available. You may find that you want to push off a weekend trip for one week to make sure that you have the money in hand for it.
There’s still lots of summer left. With the proper planning, you can get the most enjoyment out of it, without jeopardizing your finances. And who knows? This may be the first step to setting up your yearly Spending Plan.
If you have questions on how to set up a simple Spending Plan, send me an e-mail at Kevin@TheSavvyLife.com and we’ll help you out.