Some of us have been so caught up in the end of summer and getting kids back in school or getting back into a routine that we forget that one of the busiest seasons, not to mention most expensive times, of the year is at the threshold and just about to knock at our door. Being the financial manager in my home I have to think of all the extra expenses that will going on in the next ninety days, Christmas is coming faster than we think. So as I am thinking about all the things I need to plan for. I wanted to invite you to plan with me for your next ninety days. Hopefully we'll feel more prepared and be able to use this plan year after year.
The next three months have holidays in each month so in Part One I am listing some items to start budgeting for that you should be thinking about in the September/October time frame.
Most are free admission, but then you can pay out money for food and fun stuff. If there are arts and crafts with some of these festivals remember Christmas shopping can never be started too soon. Set your budget before you go for rides and food…take cash so you don't overspend.
Pumpkin patches and apple picking:
Usually travel is required, which in these days we need to add the cost of fuel in any and all trips made. Also budget the amount of money you will spend at these places before you get there. The cider and jams can add up fast along with the cost of the pumpkins and apples. You will be able to choose your pumpkins a little easier by knowing what you have budgeted. There are also fake pumpkins that you can carve and use year after year. Consider that too because they are going on sale now at craft stores or discounted stores like Old Time Pottery.
September is my Fall decorating month so I have brought out some of my items I got last year at Kirkland's the day before Thanksgiving at 75% off! I just bought a few ceramic pumpkins that look like the ones you find in Pottery Barn but I found them at Old Time Pottery for a fraction of the cost, actually less than $10 for three medium sized ones. Wow…I look pretty put together already. The dining room is a great place to start. My buffet and table are now decorated and ready for any guests I decide to have over. Now all I have to find are some great fall recipes that are easy on the budget but taste gourmet! So make sure you find the recipes so you can start keeping on hand the items to put a great meal together quick and easy in case the cooler weather inspires you to entertain on a moments notice.
Candy and Costumes:
Yes trick or treating and trunk treats are just around the corner. That means candy and costumes may be on your spending list. Classes will have parties and need treats too. Start buying one package of candy every week or every two weeks, then the expense won't come all at the same time. Also you can find recipes for cookies or treats that might be cheaper treats than last minute bags of candy for parties.
Costumes can be very costly for wearing them only once or twice. Look around the house for inspiration or even at the dress up clothes your kids already have. You might only have to buy one or two things to nicely embellish some dress-up clothes to have a great costume, not to mention a little make-up can make something look much more like a costume. A pirate costumes would be easy to make out of clothes they grew out of this summer where the bottom of the pants or jeans could be ripped and buying an eye patch at the drug store for a few bucks and out of all the stuffed animals looming around the house you may even have a parrot or a lamb to make Mary had a little lamb. Nursery rhymes can make classic and classy looking costumes and can often be made from items in our own closets. Don't be shy about asking friends to do a costume swap from costumes their kids wore last year or that they kept from younger years. Make sure you return the costumes in great shape and promptly to encourage the swap other years.
Cards and Pictures.
School pictures are being taken this month and the money for them will be due not too long after that. Also cards for the holidays and pictures to send in cards or make your cards with a favorite picture from summer vacation or pumpkin patch picking will need to go in the mail in the next few months. Look for specials on those items now, since you will get some great prices before the rush. Make a list of people you want to send them to so you can get their addresses ready and a count of how many pictures to print and also start buying stamps on a monthly basis.
Remember there are lots of free or inexpensive things to do like take a walk in the woods to see the changing leaves, bob for apples anytime after you go grocery shopping, build a bon fire and roast marshmallows or make smores. Ready the fire place for a family night and pull out the games that are collecting dust on the shelves. Invite a family over for freshly made apple crisp made from your trip to the orchard. Make the season a good one and start it now so you can enjoy every month of it!
Check out Part II next week as we think of November and Thanksgiving. The next week after that will be Part III…Remember December.
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