Did vacation blow your budget to bits?

Vacations can make sticking to a budget challenging.

If you spent more than you planned on your vacation this summer – or even if you just eat out more now because of your hectic schedule of work and little league games – now is the time to sit down and reassess your budget. It’s not too late to get back on track financially!

Take a look at your spending patterns and see if you can find a way to reduce a few recurring expenses to make up for the amount you overspent on vacation. If you exceeded your budget by $300, for example, cutting just $50 of expenses for each of the next six months will put your budget back in balance. And if you can find $100 of expenses to cut, you’ll have made up that $300 before the weather gets cooler again.

  • If you run or walk outside during the summer instead of working out at your health club, call to see if you can temporarily suspend your membership over the summer months. 
     
  • If your children or grandchildren have lots of nighttime baseball games, you probably aren’t watching as much TV as usual. You could temporarily suspend your Netflix account or cut back on your cable package for the rest of the summer. One note of caution about changing your cable subscription: If you are mid-way through the contract period for an introductory rate, changing your cable package may negate that deal and end up costing you more, so call your cable provider and read the fine print in your contract to find out if there is a penalty for changing your package.  
     
  • Instead of picking up takeout on your way home from work, throw some hotdogs on the grill to make a quick and cheap meal after work.
      
  • If you have friends with whom you regularly eat out, invite them to come to your house instead. Eating at home can save you a lot of money, especially if your dinners out normally include a hefty drink tab.

Use this budget rebalancing process as an opportunity to take a good hard look at your spending. After you’ve reallocated your money to get yourself back on track, you may even find that the spending cuts you make are pretty painless. In that case, you could make the changes permanent even after you’ve made up your vacation deficit from the summer. That might enable you to beef up your emergency fund or save some extra money to use on your family’s vacation next summer.