Do the Changing Seasons Affect Your Budget?
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The changing of the seasons can sometimes mean huge changes to your monthly budget and utilities. At least, that’s how it works for my family. As soon as I get used to whatever spending pattern we’re in, it’s time to change things up and get used to a whole new season once again.
I guess that’s the price I pay for living in Indiana, right? Here’s how each season plays out on our budget and how we try to keep it in check:
Every new calendar year starts in the dead of winter, which can be a depressing time if you enjoy spending time outdoors but hate the cold like I do. Unfortunately, the winter also brings some extra expensive utility bills for those of us who use a furnace to keep our houses warm and cozy. Still, we try to keep the bills as low as possible by wearing layers and sealing our house up as much as we can.
Fortunately, winter is usually a fairly cheap time of the year when it comes to entertainment (unless we escape for a beach vacation, which has been known to happen). Because it’s so cold outside, we generally stay in most evenings and play games or watch movies with our girls. Building snowmen and making snow angels are also on our list of family activities when we get fresh snowfall. Plus it’s easier to declare that it’s “bedtime” for the girls in the winter since it gets dark earlier. <Repeat after me: Everything’s great after 8:00>
Before long, winter fades into spring and with the new season comes an entirely new set of expenses. With all the freshness in the air, it can be tempting to start in on your long-neglected yard projects and gardens. While these projects are an additional expense, gardening does provide some off-setting benefits. We produced a decent amount of food from our garden this year, and I was pretty happy about it. I’m actually still finishing off some of the last tomatoes. Until next year….
But Spring is also when my next door neighbor starts turning his yard into a Martha Stewart show home. And, as we all know, it can be hard to resist the urge to keep up with the Joneses. Fortunately, I’m smart enough to realize that my yard will never look as good as his does. So, why try?
Like winter, summer brings higher energy bills because we occasionally need to run the air conditioner to keep ourselves cool and comfortable. Fortunately, we’re not that dependent on the AC during summer months. Our house has plenty of ceiling fans and the air conditioner has been known to make me sneeze. I actually try to turn it on as little as possible, and not just for financial reasons; it makes me feel sick.
Other than that, summer is a cheap time of year around here. Last year, we spent most summer weekends at the neighborhood pool down the street. Not only is it included in our homeowner’s association dues, but it’s also a lot of fun. We even packed a picnic lunch most days so we didn’t have to come home to eat. I love summer!
Fall is by far my favorite time of year. The weather begins to cool off, but is not yet bitterly cold. We are able to maximize utility savings by going without the furnace or the AC and leaving the windows open when the temperature is just right.
Fall is also a fun time to play outdoor with the kids. We have a blast raking the leaves and going for walks in the crisp, evening air. In that respect, fall is a lot better than summer. It’s easier to get exercise when it’s not quite so hot outdoors.
Do the Changing Seasons Affect Your Budget?
Each season has its own set of challenges, but also presents some additional ways to save as well. In order to create a balanced budget each month, we try to plan ahead for each season and use common sense when estimating our expenses. And over the course of the year, the ups and downs of our budget tend to balance themselves out.
Do changing seasons affect your budget? How do you save during each season?
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I spend a lot more on gas for my car in the winter. Soon I will be leaving for work 5 to 20 minutes earlier to get the car windows cleared of snow and ice. Some days the car will run an extra 30 minutes when I have to scrape on my way to work AND before I can drive home. I set the alarm 15 minutes earlier when I reset the clock after the time change this weekend.
Tomorrow I am paying to have my snow tires put on.
Oh yes! I hate that part of winter. There is nothing worse than scraping that windshield and warming up the car forever. And even if you can park in a garage, your car still freezes up like an ice cube while it sits outside at work. =(
So glad I got rid of my car when I moved up north! I cringe to have to deal with that after growing up in the south…
I don’t think the seasons have quite the impact on us that they do on you. Our spending might change slightly, but it’s more of spending on different things because that’s the season for them (farmer’s markets or road races) than it really affecting how much we spend overall.
I’m sure they don’t! Your “winter” is probably like our fall.
The biggest impact for us is paying for heat in winter. We’re able to get away with using the AC for only about a month and a half during the summer. But, we’re usually stuck with heat from November-April.
Yeah, I hear ya. We have no real choice on heat either. We try to delay using it as long as we can…and we try to keep the temperature as low as we can get away with.
Hi Holly! We try not to let seasonal changes in spending affect our budget. To get around this we put most of our expenses into a “fund” (separate bank account) from which we pay all our bills etc. We always add the same amount each month to the fund. When bills are lower the fund grows and when bills are larger we eat into that surplus. We find it works very well for us!
I love winter as its the perfect time to use my oven! The oven provides an additional source of heat which I hate during the summer months.
I love baking during winter too. Any excuse to turn the oven on!
A/c and watering the lawn = $$$$
Oh yes. We used a ton of water this summer for our new garden.
Summer is my weakness. While heat is included in NYC rent, A/C is not, and it gets disgustingly hot and humid during July and August. The weather also makes me went to spend money on iced indulgences and getting out of town. Fall and winter are definitely my most budget savvy months.
Same here. We save a ton of money during winter because we just stay in.
Being from AZ, our biggest expense was in the summer when our electric bill would easily be over $300/month. In NC, I’m sure our heating bill will be high but hopefully not that high!!
Love your comment on how “Everything’s great after 8:00” LOL – that’s totally me too.
Yeah, I bet you have to turn the AC on all summer long in AZ. In Indiana, we don’t have to turn it on much at all.
Winter brings higher heating bills here too, and summer brings weddings and events. Even if it’s a little more expensive I love summer so much and I already miss her!
Oh yes- summer events and weddings! Cookouts! Get-togethers! All of those things add up. I miss summer too =(
Our utility bill is usually half of our neighbors. We love to have windows open during the night during summer to cool things off and in the winter we love hoodies and blankets. We aren’t trying to freeze to death, but just dropping things a few degrees and being used to it is awesome. Plus it saves us nearly $100-200 over what neighbors pay. Doing that year after year makes a pretty big difference in the overall wealth building process.
We keep our heat pretty low too. Not just to be cheap but also because I don’t like it when the house is stuffy.
I think we tend to spend more in summer just because we plan more fun stuff to enjoy the weather, but winter is the all-time “winner” with the ridiculous heating bills here.
Yuck! Do you have country heating bills? I know a few people in the country who pay outrageous utility bills.
Our utility bills tend to be ok because we’re on a level payment plan for both and are generally able to stay within that until they decide to raise rates. Our challenge is in the fall/winter when our family comes to visit as a number of them just expect us to cover everything for them. Thankfully after a few conversations and us budgeting a little extra in for that it’s gotten a lot better.
Nice! Glad to hear it =)
Heat and AC really increase our utility expenses in winter and summer. Unfortunately I think the heating bill is going to be a little higher this year because we have a new babe and I don’t want her to freeze. But it’s tough because she’s still young enough where they recommend no blankets or “loose clothing” in the crib. We invested in a couple of those sleep sacks last week and I’m hoping that will help keep her warm this winter. We are still probably going to have to keep the thermostat higher though.
Oh yes! We started using more heat when we had kids. My kids have no fat on their bodies and freeze easily.
Just like you, we’re spending more on heat in the winter but less on entertainment. It usually gets pretty close to evening out. So, while there’s adjustments in the budget, certain seasons do not cost more overall – it’s just more in different areas compared to other times of yr (heat / entertainment for eg).
I love the fall for the weather, but I mostly love the fall for the cost savings. We rely on fall as our “catch up” season in our budget because we use very little energy, we exercise outdoors instead of in the gym and most of our weekend entertainment is around Will’s soccer games so we don’t spend much money.
When I lived in Canada, by far winter was the most expensive season. Buying more gas for the car, cost of home heating and also ensuring winter tires were installed (as per law) it all added up. Even though I live in NYC, we still equip one car with winter tires in the event I need to drive to Montreal but overall, summer is our most expensive season now.
I think the biggest thing for us is the higher energy costs in Winter. AC is just a LOT cheaper than heat, but that’s probably because it can get so bitterly cold here. There is a program that the energy company has that allows you to make your bill more consistent, but I prefer to see the changes by season so that I’m not disillusioned.
I think winter and summer are our two biggest killers. Heating costs in winter and summer vacations/entertainment for the family. We have dialed back the thermostat a degree or two over the last few years to try and save some cash.
It doesn’t change really at all for me. I don’t have AC to use in the summer and my gas is paid for so that’s my heat source. I used to pay for it but the landlord decided to pay for it himself. Hurray!
I think it tends to even out. Our heat is on an even pay system so it doesn’t change until June when it resets for the year. I do not enjoy Jan-April nearly as much, so we maybe go on more weekend trips to break up the cold.
Happily, my budget stays pretty constant. I do a big pantry restock twice a year in the Spring and late Fall other than that it’s all good.
The seasons affect my budget in a lot of the same ways you describe Holly. Living the midwest is fun because we actually get to experience all 4 seasons of the year (weather-wise), but it does have an affect on the budget.
It definitely affects our food budget. For the winter, we can save because we make a lot of soups, and dishes with beans, lentils, and rice. In the summer, we’re willing to spend a bit more for fresh produce.
Fall and Winter are the worst for our budgets. You go inside because its cold, so to not stay couped up with nothing to do we end up going places that cost money. Plus you’ve got Christmas to deal with. Spring and Summer are great because you can go outside, go for walks, swim in the pool, etc. Our finances tend to lay very low when that happens.
We don’t experience seasons the way you do in Indiana, but my utility bill does typically increase in the winter when we occasionally run our heaters. We live close enough to the beach that we get the ocean breeze in the summer, which keeps our home cool. The seasons don’t have a huge impact on our budget, but we do see an increase in the late Fall, but that’s more holiday and birthday related.
It’s funny but I had this thought the other day. Every seasonal change I immediatly think about what I don’t have for said season…with winter approaching I genuinly need winter boots since I used rain boots only last year but my toesies were effin cold! So yes, I think the initial seasonal change I do spend more than I do once we’re into said season.
I think it’s pretty even for us. We use more gas in winter to heat the house, but our electric bill is higher in summer for a/c.
Fall is also my favorite time of year but I actually like winter better than summer. Hate that central Illinois humidity! We are on natural gas for our heat which is pretty darn reasonable so since we usually come in under budget for utilities, we set the unused amount aside in a reserve account to be used in the summer when air conditioning costs so much more. Helps even out the budget.
Winter is definitely the easiest time for us to save. We actually enjoy this time, crazy as it sounds, to hunker down and pay extra close to our finances. Neither one of us like anything that has to do with cold weather, so it’s easy to stay inside and stay cozy! Spring and summer is when we tend to let loose with our budget, and do trips and traveling. So being more frugal in the winter months helps us to look forward to the summer craze!
I just feel like every season is expensive : ) If it isn’t the seasonal change, then it’s usually something else like the dog gets sick, or we need car repairs. Wow do I sound likea debbie downer!
I have noticed that electric bills in summer and winter are almost the same. In winter, those Christmas lights and heaters and in summer air conditioners are what add to our bills…. Our saving techniques vary in different seasons.
As far as the monthly budget goes, we see more expenses in fall and winter. Those are mostly wrapped up in back to school issues and then sports seasons for our two oldest kids. Lots of travel, admissions to games, and eating out more all increase expenditures in our budget. Spring and summer are less expensive. Even though we do take vacations in the summer, those are something we’ve saved for and they don’t impact our monthly budget per se.
You’ve described the seasons and the expenses perfectly. I know I would be happier living somewhere where it is between 60 and 80 degrees throughout the year. That would be heaven on earth to me! 🙂
Since, I’ve been living in the Philippines, we only use our A/C every summer when the heat is totally unbearable! And when the rain season came, we only use an electric fan, so I can say every summer our electric bill almost triple compared to rainy months.
I sure see differences between the seasons so my budget tracking isn’t month to month but same month prior year or years. Its November to November comparisons. My yearly budget is based on the total of the previous year so month to month tracking if I just divide the yearly budget by 12 doesn’t work too well. Summer has high water, power, and travel costs. Winter has higher heating, Christmas and income tax costs. I tend to have lower cost in Fall and Spring when the temps are less extreme.