With Summer Ending, Leave a Buffer in Your Budget
Summer may not be over just yet but, thankfully, the end is now in sight. For many areas, this year was a scorcher, with multiple rounds of sustained heat waves testing your endurance and your air conditioner. Speaking of A/C, with the constant need to pump cool air in your home during the summer season, you may have noticed a spike in your electricity bill. While you may be growing increasingly anxious to be done with those ridiculous utility bills and return to your normal budget, you may actually want to reconsider.
Instead of getting back to business as usual, you may want to consider leaving a buffer in your budget by using your summer utility bill as a placeholder. This is that say that, if your highest bill was $150, you could keep setting aside that cash even though your autumn bills may be significantly lower. Perhaps this extra cash could be used to firm up your emergency fund, be set aside for a future vacation, or help you subsidize your holiday spending. In any case, since you’ve already proven you can live without that money, you might as well put it to better use.
While your utility bill is a good example of this principal, there are other ways you can “trick yourself” into saving money as well. For example, when my wife and I finally paid off her car, we continued to set aside car payments in order to fund any repairs or maintenance the vehicle may need now that it’s getting a little long in the tooth. We also got into the habit of earmarking money for our auto insurance even on months we didn’t need to pay and are now able to pay our policy in full every six months, allowing us to save $20 in fees.
If you’re not already prorating your variable bills in your budget or leaving a buffer for such expenses, the impending change of season and (hopefully) smaller utility bill could be a great reminder to get on board. And of course, if you don’t already have a solid spending plan in place, there are now several free apps you can download that will help you build and stick to a budget, allowing you to make better use of your money. So enjoy the rest of your summer and remember to keep cool!