Monday, October 3, 2016

School holiday blow-out!

This is my oldest son's first year in school and thus my first real experience of the school holidays (well, since trying to reign in my spending). And I have to say it's been a bit of a financial disaster! I feel like all the hard work I put in cutting back my spending over the last 4 months has completely gone out the door. These holidays I was a bit like a teenager with their first credit card - I was spending willy-nilly and saying 'stuff it!' and  'I deserve a treat!'.

Our grocery spend for the month of September ended up being about $400 over budget, mostly due to a week away with the extended family (why do kids in groups eat more than when at home?!), plus we threw a dinner party that I hadn't planned for. And the entertainment/food & dining categories were also way out of control. We treated the kids to the movies, and there were many cafe trips, lunches out, a zoo visit... Plus, a much needed date night got a bit extravagant with dinner, drinks and a movie!

Anyway, after spending this evening perusing the damage via my online banking portal, I think I can take away a few lessons.

  1. It's very easy to fall back into old habits. But I'm not going to chuck the whole thing in. I'm going to be more vigilant this month and stick to our budget.
  2. Next school holidays I'll be more prepared. I know the Simple Savings vault has heaps of tips on how to make the school holidays more affordable, and I'll also ask for tips online. 
  3. The monthly shop is a good idea, but it doesn't cater for things that crop up (such as me deciding to host a dinner party), and I had tried to buy extra school holiday supplies/treats, but it just wasn't enough. So I'm going to try to keep more of the budget back to cater for these extra things. (I already set aside money for the weekly fruit and veg top up, so I just need to shop a bit smarter at the start of the month and put extra aside.)
  4. It wasn't the kids' fault. It was mine. They would have been happy with home-made treats and a prima from Aldi, but it was me who was using the holidays as an excuse to break my 'limit cafes' rule. I need to plan better (including the kids in the planning) and get baking! I've been totally slack in that department recently.
So, it was a bit of a step backward, but we all had a lot of fun. And hopefully I've learned a few lessons!

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