Now that summer's over, it's time to refocus.
It's really easy to let the budget slide during the summer break. Hey, we've all done it before—taking that extra day of vacation, going to the pool too many times or sending the kids to the movies because they're "bored." Many people find themselves back in debt or struggling with money when fall comes around.
And then you have the fall expenses. Back-to-school supplies are being marketed everywhere we turn. Mommy, I want that Hannah Montana backpack!... and the glow-in-the-dark pens and the 1,000 crayons! ... sound familiar? What happened to the days when eight crayons lasted for a whole year?
Have you noticed how the car dealerships have increased their marketing, trying to get you to buy the "perfect" vehicle so they can get the new models in? And of course, all the retailers are screaming, "Come buy some new clothes for your fall wardrobe because you deserve it!" Really? You deserve it? No, you don't.
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Now, more than ever, is the time to refocus and get back on track with your money. It's so important to have a plan for your money every month or you could easily fall into the no-good debt trap.
Here are some tips to get you back on track with your money:
Sit down and evaluate.
Take a few minutes to look at your bank accounts and really understand what you see. If you don't, you run the high risk of living these next few months like Gomer Pyle on Valium, with no clue about your money. You don't want that, do you?
Update your game plan or start one for the first time.
A budget is your game plan, where you tell your money what you want it to do. This isn't rocket science! Just give every dollar a name on paper before you get your paycheck so it won't all be gone in a week. Get free budgeting tools here.
Put cash in envelopes.
Since you spend 12-15% more when you use plastic than when you use cash, try the envelope system. Take some envelopes, write the budget categories on the envelopes, and use only the allotted money to purchase specific things. If an envelope is empty, don't buy anything else in that category for the month. It can wait.
Set boundaries for yourself and your family.
A lot of this centers around the ability to say the word NO and really mean it! Sometimes you're going to have to tell yourself, your spouse, and your kids "NO! It's not in the budget!" so be prepared. It's a phrase you'll be glad you know how to say.
Start saving NOW for Halloween and Christmas!
Now is the time to start planning and setting aside any money you want to spend around these huge retail seasons. Make a list and commit to sticking to it! If you start now, you can keep these holidays from following you into next year!
Commit now to making your budget a priority over the next few months. Just by incorporating these seemingly small changes into your daily habits, you will reap many rewards in all areas of your life. It's time to get back on track, and we're here to help you along the way!