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As we transition from the cold dark winter months we can feel the urge to make changes in our life. Whether this is realigning with our (forgotten) New Year’s Resolutions and making promises to ourselves to do great things in the months ahead.
One area that always needs some attention this time of year is your finances. Now you probably think that I am biased, but actually, there are a lot of things that you might need to tweak in your budget.
Winter generally means more time indoors, chomping on comfort food, and burning through our cash to heat our homes. Summer, on the other hand, is about getting outdoors and making the most of the weather.
Why is it important to make changes?
The simple answer is so that it continues to serve you. Ideally, you want to be checking in with your budget on a monthly basis. But in reality a lot of us let our budget run on autopilot.
You might have set up automatic savings payments, or regular debt payments or mortgage overpayments. These are all great systems to have in place, but like any well-functioning machine, they need regular maintenance and updates.
It could be that your goals have shifted too. If you set a New Year’s Resolution to save £2,000 this year, but now you’ve had a pay rise and you’ve cleared a couple of debts, you might have more to save. That goal needs to be increased.
There could be other elements of your budget that are no longer serving you too. Subscriptions that felt necessary during the Winter months but now you think you can manage without. An example of this for us is Disney+. We watched a whole load of films when trapped indoors with the rain and snow beating down outside. But with improvements in the weather, our garden can fill that gap now.
What areas of your budget might you need to adjust?
Here are just a few areas that you may want to check to see if you need to make some edits. You might find that your unique circumstance mean that there are other areas that you need to focus on. This is not an exhaustive list. Think broadly and creatively about the changes you may need to make.
This is the obvious one. the heating is off and your energy bills should start to go down. Now you may be on a plan that means that you pay the same amount year round so that you build up a pot of cash to see you through the more expensive colder months.
However, you might be on a plan that means that your energy bill is going to drop for a few months. It might be wise therefore to put this difference aside to help cover the costs later in the year. Alternatively, you can allocate this saved money into another budgeting category.
Your transportation costs could go either way. You might find that you are venturing out more and therefore are spending more to get to places of interest. Alternatively, you might be more wiling to embrace the nice weather and switch the car/bus for a walk or a bike.
Rather than guessing what you might do you could look back at what happen last year if you had that information. Or you could budget for the same for now and then make changes over the coming months as you see fit.
In our household, Summer works out cheaper than Winter when it comes to expense. Winter activities generally involve me spending money to keeps the kids entertained, like tht Disney+ subscription. Pre-Covid it was soft play and the cinema.
But in Summer we much prefer cheaper activities like picnics in the park and a trip to the beach. Plus to save money we can just stay at home and enjoy the garden, even invite some friends round to enjoy it with us.
Maybe it is just me but I generally eat healthier in the Summer. I’m much more likely to have a salad or a lovely home-cooked meal. In the Winter, however, food becomes a source of entertainment. Takeaways and restaurant trips are just an excuse to do something.
That said my spending on BBQ food and fruity ciders definitely sees a significant increase as soon as the sun makes an appearance. Sometimes I like to budget for these things seperately. These could go in a “fun” category or maybe a new one called “Summer Fun”.
What do you need to change in your budget?
Even if you think that you don’t need to make any changes to your budget, this is a good time of year to just check in. Reflect on the first few months of the year and plan out what you hope to achieve in the next few.
You control your money. Not the other way round. So if you need to use it differently, then you are the one that needs to make that happen.