In looking back, summer has always been a financially challenging season for us. Heather gets a hugely deserved break from teaching, but this means basically my salary is our budget for three months. Add to this the impacts of my job change, ongoing ice skating & family activities, and this year we had the recipe for withdrawing out of savings to make ends meet. Since one of our three main goals in Project Money is to NOT supplement our living expenses from savings; we had to come up with a strategy to ensure we'd stay on-track. With Coach Laura's guidance and our newly-found financial discipline, for the first time we approached summer with a plan that we've summarized here:
- Plan ahead for meals and snacks. An evening at the neighborhood pool is always a hit with the kids, however purchases from the snack bar and/or convenient pizza delivery quickly add up. We packed dinners, drinks and the occasional desserts to save $$ and eat healthy.
- Setting up a Back-to-School savings account. At the beginning of summer break, we began funding a savings account for school supplies, new backpacks, a bus pass and other expenses. This enabled us to purchase items each month, rather than facing large expenses (and high stress) come end of August.
- Finding free & fun activities. The Union Terrace/Wheelhouse Studio offered weekly themed art evenings for kids and adults. Between the terrace jars and stamped bandanas, we and friends had a great time at no cost.
These are just a few examples of 2017 summer successes for our family. Making a plan and sticking to it (even when the ice cream truck came calling) was the key to coming out ahead and enabling our savings to remain saved.