Mapping Out Fall Finances

Autumn is fast approaching and just as we would if we were going on a road trip, we should take time to plan our financial path carefully. The fall months are filled with curves and bumps for our finances so the more we anticipate, the less damage we will do to our financial “vehicles” such as our household budgets, our savings and our credit cards. Consider the following list of possible expenses, and then take some time to think about where your upcoming “curves” and “bumps” may be.

* Back to school – include monthly costs for lunches, trips, computers, child care, etc.
* Sign up/Registration fees for sports/activities (consider ongoing monthly costs)
* Birthdays/Anniversaries falling between Sept 1 – Dec 31st.
* Seasonal costs that change due to activity or temperatures: heat, hydro, data usages, etc.
* Winter clothing/footwear
* Winter snow tires/vehicle maintenance
* Winter prep for home – shovels, furnace cleaning, sidewalk sand
* Thanksgiving (travel costs and food)
* Halloween (candy, costumes, parties)
* Religious celebrations (Hanukah and Christmas - you may have a long list of various expenses associated with these special times)
* New Year’s Eve celebrations.
* And…note any potential changes to income (more or less overtime, seasonal slowdown, etc)

Wow, that’s a lot of curves, and we haven’t yet considered any unsuspecting pot holes! Unexpected expenses can happen at any time, so it’s important to plan some method of “emergency cash stashing” if we can. This stretch of the journey may be extra treacherous if we want to keep in line with our financial goals. Goals are really important, so once we’ve created our autumn financial path, let’s go back and review to see how far it is taking us off track of our goals. We may need to revise and adjust our expectations accordingly, particularly if your income fluctuates with the seasons. Maybe last year’s winter coat will do? Finally; like road trips, plans change. Be flexible, and revisit your budget often, so that you are ready to detour your financial direction when needed this Fall. Next Month: Emergency Cash Stashing Tips!

For information on setting up a monthly budget, consumer credit issues or managing debt, call Credit Counseling Services of Peterborough, a program of Community Counselling & Resource Centre, a United Way funded agency. For more information, call (705) 743-2272,