The summer months have flown by and fall is just around the corner. As the seasons change, your financial needs and spending habits will likely change, too. Planning for these financial transitions can help you avoid overspending or going into debt.
What types of things should you budget for?
In a few months, your heating and cooling needs will change. Look at past utility bills to get an idea of how much you’ll need to budget for gas and electricity during the fall (and winter, too). Also consider using a utility budget plan to create a level and predictable monthly payment for your electricity and gas. If you use propane or fuel oil to heat your home, check out your options for pre-buying; you could receive a discount and/or a lowest price guarantee.
If you have the time and money, you can lower both your gas and electric bills with a few home improvement projects. Replacing old windows, sealing air leaks, and adding insulation can reduce the energy used to heat and cool your home.
Whether you, your spouse, or your children are going back to school this fall, you’ll need to make financial adjustments. If you pay tuition every month, make sure to add it to your monthly budget. If you pay tuition every quarter or semester, create a savings plan to cover these large payments.
There will likely be other charges, fees, and things to buy, too: books, uniforms, and school supplies; sports gear and lab equipment. Will your kids need after-school care? What about bus or train fare? Make sure to add these costs to your budget as well.
Also look for ways to save this back-to-school season. For example, try contacting your school or professors and ask for a list of books that you’ll need to buy, then try finding them used online or in bookstores. Have barely used notebooks or other supplies left over from last year? Start the school year with those instead of buying something new.
Walking or biking might be less appealing options once the warm summer days are replaced by the cool, crisp air of fall. If you drive (or take the bus or train) more often in the fall and winter, update your budget to allocate more money to gas and transportation costs during these seasons.
Your car may also need maintenance and repair more often due to the increased driving, cold, and snow. Put aside some money to cover these automotive expenses, and for car emergencies too if you don’t already have an emergency fund.
What are your plans for the fall?
A new season is a good time to review your budget and plan ahead. Will the change in season bring a change in your finances? Take some time to reflect on your plans for the fall and consider how to adjust your saving and spending habits.
Covenant Trust Company is a financial services company owned by the Evangelical Covenant Church and its affiliates. Our services are available to anyone in need of asset management, retirement planning, legacy planning, gift planning, or trust services. In addition, we seek opportunities to encourage and promote healthy financial habits, and keep a personal finance blog at www.covtrustblog.com.