Right now there are lots of annual festivals going on around us. No matter what you like there is one for everyone. Cars, pumpkins, apples and crafts galore everywhere you look. We usually try to attend as many as we can, but now that I am retired, we can go to as many as we want! I love to go and look at all the interesting crafts and items to buy, and it’s a great time to pick up a few unique Christmas gifts. In years past, my husband would give me a budget to stick to so I didn’t go overboard buying what he calls “crafty things” at the festivals. I would always make a big deal about it saying, “But Honey, how can I know what I will find or how much it will cost”? He would just laugh and take extra money, and off we would go. Sometimes we would come back with money but often times we wouldn’t.
Since retiring, I have found it is best to stick to a budget no matter what. I recognize that if we had not taken the extra money we would not have spent it on things we didn’t really need. It’s difficult to stick to a budget, especially with grandkids you love to spoil, but it really is for a great tool to improve your financial life. More and more I am aware of how difficult it can be to make a budget and stick to it as I watch my kids struggle day to day with the same things. Often times you find yourself buying things that you don’t need for yourself or your kids. It’s easy to spend more than you planned when you have children in school - sports items, supplies and of course there are the ever-present fundraisers! Not to mention the unexpected events that life likes to throw at us like sick children, broken vehicles and unexpected repairs.
Making a written budget is the easiest way to begin following one. If you write it down you are more likely to stick to it and see the rewards of your hard work. It’s always a great feeling to watch your savings grow. For those who are a little more computer savvy, there are many free online budget tools you can use, just type in “free budget planner” and lots of sites will pop up. You may need to review a few to find the one that fits you the best. The great thing about these is they are easy to change and many have help features to assist you in creating the perfect plan for you. So if you don’t have children but have “furry children” you can change it to fit vet bills instead of child care.
If you prefer, you can always go the old fashioned way and purchase a budget planner at your local office supply store or market. Most of them are fairly inexpensive, five dollars or so, and easy to use. There are many different kinds to pick from that can fit your lifestyle. A few of them also include a bill organizer and monthly expense tracker!
I’ve encouraged my children and friends to find a budget tool they are comfortable with and use it to keep track of everything. One great benefit is that it can help you to identify areas where you can reduce spending and save money. It’s also a good way to see where all your money is going during the month. I have to warn you - it can be kind of scary at first, but it certainly was eye opening for me.
This year I think we will enjoy attending just a few of our favorite festivals. As I have gotten older, I have found I don’t need so many “crafty things” in my life. Not to say that I won’t find a few things for the kids! But sticking to our budget gives us the freedom to splurge a little on the kids and grandchildren once in a while! I really do love seeing my budget planner in the green and seeing my savings grow.