Friday, September 4, 2009

Step Back And Recharge

Tip #182 - Step Back and Recharge. With back-to-school events in full swing and the Labor Day holiday this weekend, there are activities, events, meetings, and commitments galore. If you have children and are trying to do fun things for the long weekend as well, it seems as if there is not a moment to sit down, let alone think about saving money or how to do things on less. There seem to be certain times of the year that are like this – around the Christmas holidays, graduation and spring holidays and events, the beginning of school year, and maybe other times unique to each family when there are birthdays or other events clustered together.

Whenever it is a busy time, that’s when it is easy to fall off the budget bandwagon. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all that is going on, and it’s even harder to do it while trying to keep costs down. It’s important to step back and take a break not from saving money but from the chaos that envelops us. It’s easy to get caught up in the back-to-school fundraising sales, the school shopping, the barbeque at your neighbor’s house, the start of fall sports and activities, the back-to-school meetings, as well as anything else that takes place in September. You don’t need to do everything. You can surely back out one or two activities. Do you really need to buy expensive wrapping paper from your son’s school or can you make a small donation in line with your budget, instead? Can you back out of the planning dinner at the overpriced restaurant down the street and alternatively send your ideas via email to the leader? It might not only save you money but also your sanity.

Before the huge barrage of activities takes place, think about what you have time to do, and what you can skip. Think about it in terms of your budget and your time. Review your budget as we close in on the last quarter of the year. What financial goals are you meeting, and which ones are falling short? Can you do anything differently during this busy time of year to still help you meet your goals before the year’s end? Have you signed your children up for too many activities? Can you back out of something? Can you cut down on the amount of entertaining you are doing? Step back and reevaluate your goals and your activities and make any adjustments that you think are necessary.

In Real Life (IRL) – Here in Northern Virginia, school is starting next week. This last week before school starts in conjunction with Labor Day weekend has been absolutely crazy. I’ve baked things for a teacher breakfast, gone to two school open houses, am holding a barbeque at my house, signed up my older daughter for Brownies, piano, and Hebrew School and signed up my younger daughter for gymnastics. And I am contemplating signing them up for other things. Am I crazy? Sometimes I think so. Not only because all of these activities bring more stress for me, but because the costs of them are becoming too much for us. That’s when I realized I need to step back and perhaps make some changes.

I was hoping to go back to work part-time this fall, and have my 2-year old in a two-morning a week program at a local church. I’ve done it in the past, and it has always been good for all of us – financially and socially. But earlier in the year, my old boss said they do not need my services. So while my extra income used to cover the cost of preschool plus a few other activities, I don’t have that money anymore. Therefore, my son isn’t enrolled in preschool, and I am wondering if I’m putting my kids in too many activities. And between that and all of the other things we are doing, I feel like I am shelling out money left and right – school supplies, supplies fees, entertaining in my home, last-minute weekend trips before the weather gets cold, etc. As I am in a whirlwind of activities, I am planning some time this weekend to sit down with my husband and go over our finances once again. The weekend away might have to wait. Our older daughter might not get to do tennis this fall, and we may be staying home more often than we’d like. I’m still confident that our budget is pretty strong, but we may need to cut back on some things before the year comes to a close to keep up with our goals. Hopefully, we can figure it out when we step back and recharge in the direction of our goals. For other frugal ideas, check out Frugal Fridays.

No comments: