Should You Scrap Your Monthly Budget?

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Do you struggle with the wild variations in expenses that come with holidays, back-to-school supplies and your kids' sporting gear? If monthly budgeting isn't working for you, try this.

Fall is by far the most expensive time of year for my family. With back-to-school costs, kids’ soccer and dance, family birthdays, Halloween, frequent weekend travel for college football games and brisk temperatures that require us to turn on the heat, our wallets get a lot of use during the fall season.

My situation is hardly unique. Different seasons often come with variations in the cost of life.

It can be difficult, and often frustrating, to deal with seasonal costs if you’re trying to follow a monthly budget that covers just basic expenses. If this is your struggle, you may want to consider revising your monthly budget to also reflect your seasonal expenses.

The first thing you need to do is sit down and establish your seasonal needs, AdviceIQ explains:

“What do you do in the fall (back-to-school clothes, supplies, pay-to-play sports); winter (skiing, huddling around the heater, Caribbean trip); spring (landscaping, spring break); and summer (pool, family vacation, kids’ camps).”

After you’ve developed your list of seasonal needs, determine its annual cost and then divide the cost by 12 to figure out how much money you need to set aside each month to cover those expenses.

Another way to create a budget that works for you, AdviceIQ says, is to refine and prioritize your budget items: house, kids, cars, trips.

Make sure you include all expenses under each budget priority. For example, when determining your housing budget, include mortgage, insurance, utilities, repairs and taxes.

“When done, you know exactly how much it costs to live in your house, raise your children, drive your cars and take your vacations. You also know which seasons constitute your big spending seasons,” AdviceIQ says.

Review your budget often to see if it mirrors what you’re spending. If it doesn’t, you may need to alter your spending or refine your budget to reflect your actual expenses.

“Over time with the seasonal budget, you start to know when finances get off kilter,” AdviceIQ explains. “Take the seasonal approach, reviewing your budget and actual amounts. Were oil prices higher than you budgeted for this winter? You still have time to adjust your spring or summer plans to compensate.”

For more tips on how to develop a budget that works for you, check out “8 Secrets to Building a Budget You Can Live With.”

How do you make your budget work for you? Share any tips below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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