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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?