“10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...Happy New Year!” If this year’s New Year’s Eve countdown reminded you of your bank account balance, it’s time for a change.
Now that the first half of the year is over and the holidays are behind us, it’s time to begin planning ahead for summer. Believe it or not, summer will be here before we know it with all of its expenses in tow: summer camp, family vacation, sports...(insert money flying away emoji). Keep reading for suggestions to jumpstart your budgeting goals and handle summer finances with ease.
Set a goal. Write it down. Celebrate. Repeat.
Begin by sorting your spring and summer expenses in two lists: a “must-do” list and a “can-do” list. Fill your “must-do” list with all of the expenses that have to happen. Think essentials like summer camp, sports teams, school registration fees for next year, etc. Total up those costs and round that number to the nearest hundredth (wiggle room is vital). Divide that total by the number of months remaining until spring, write it down and post it somewhere you can see it daily. When you reach your monthly goal, celebrate the cost-effective way: Have a movie night in or cook something special as a family. Repeat. Do the same for your “can-do” list, but always prioritize your “must-do” list.
Pay yourself! There’s an app for that.
You’ve set some sort of New Year's resolution, right? Reward yourself for sticking to your goals (or punish yourself when you don’t) with an app that auto-saves for you. There are a few apps that automate your savings, but my favorite is IFTT (If This, Then That), which works by creating “recipes” that trigger certain effects. For example, in a few finger-taps, you can set up a $2 transfer from your checking account into your savings account each time you check in at your gym. I use IFTT with Qapital, another saving app that makes saving easy and fun. Get your significant other to join in and save with you to speed up the goal-achieving process.
Budgeting is a team sport
Involve your family. Teach responsibility, introduce chores, and model saving and budgeting by turning household chores or everyday tasks into a chance to save money. Instead of paying your child, apply their earned allowance towards their personal expenses. These tasks don’t have to be huge — maybe a dollar for each day your kiddo completes three tasks that they normally struggle with, like making their bed, completing all of their homework and feeding the dog. Keep track of how much money they earn each week, then apply it towards your family budget. Your child will feel great knowing that their efforts helped contribute! #teamworkmakesthedreamwork
Don’t worry if budgeting doesn’t come naturally at first. Take baby steps and set realistic goals, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Dave Ramsey said it best: “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”