Beware of Seasonal Costs

by Kelly · 14 comments

in Living Frugally

a_stack_of_sheetsWe all know to watch out for higher heating bills in the winter, or increased water costs in the summer. But what about the smaller costs, that add up to large costs, just the same. One of my biggest winter spending traps is on dryer time at the local laundrymat. Not only do we wear heavier, bulkier clothes in the winter, the colder, wetter weather means the clothes don’t dry as fast outside. And as our house is both small and humid, drying things inside is not the most practical of options, although I do resort to doing so from time to time. We usually end up taking laundry to be dried a few times a month. It only costs €2 to dry a load of washing, but if we take ten loads a month (not entirely out of the realm of possibility) then that’s an unbudgeted €20 that has just been spent.

I‘m not saying that spending the money is bad, or that I (or rather my husband) shouldn’t take laundry to be dried. In my opinion, that €20 is money well spent, as otherwise we would end up with a damp, moldy house full of damp, smelly laundry. No thank you. To the contrary, it’s important to remember and recognize that certain costs are real, even if they only appear seasonally. This is one of the reasons that I like the Pear Budget Budgeting system so much- you are able to budget for these irregular expenses.

What are some other examples of irregular seasonal expenses? Some examples that spring to mind include replacing lost mittens, buying more cat litter because our cats are spending less time outside, regularly expected car maintenance or annual membership fees needing to be renewed. None of these are truly unexpected, they just sometimes slip my mind when I am doing my monthly budget. I’ve started writing them down on my calendar when they happen and adding them to the same month’s budget for next year. I don’t think I’ll ever catch all of them (and some are so small that they don’t really make that much of a difference, like the cat litter) but I’ll save myself a few surprises along the way.

What are your irregular seasonal expenses?


1 Nicki at Domestic Ce January 26, 2009

We use a lot more gas in our vehicles in the winter as a result of letting them run to warm up each morning. We also have to buy Ice Melt and extra windshield De-Icer for our cars. Our furnace usually requires more maintenance too. Winter is generally more expensive all around for us.

We don't run our furnace in the summer and we don't have an air conditioner (don't really need one). I dry my clothes outside in the summer and we grill a lot of our food. So summer is our money-saver.


<abbr>Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog post..What Am I Going To Do With These Kids?</abbr>

2 Lucie @ Unconventional Origins January 26, 2009

I without fail forget to budget the cost of winter-proofing our windows, which with nine foot windows in every room really adds up!

3 Kika January 26, 2009

Outdoor soccer fees & basketball fees for my kids (along with kleats, or bike helmets if they've outgrown theirs) etc… all need to be paid for between March and June. Also, any gardening supplies need to be paid for in this time period. I do budget for this and yet, each year, I feel surprised by how much this all adds up.

4 Brian January 26, 2009

movie rentals are other stay inside costs. I live in the snowy Midwest and i never plan correctly the expenses of staying inside for long periods of time.

Brian´s last blog post..Another great givaway!

5 Craig January 26, 2009

There also can always be an increase in car maintenance throughout the winter. Wiper fluid, anti freeze, wipers, car brushes, etc can easily pile up this time of year.

Craig´s last blog post..Be aware, but don’t get carried away

6 Shevy January 26, 2009

I get a delivery of fuel oil in the winter that lasts me through the year. That was a little over $400. But my big seasonal expense isn’t now, it’s budgeting for Passover in the spring.

Between wine, matzo, meat, special dairy products and special kosher for Passover foods, plus boarding the dog for the duration (because we can’t feed him normal dog food then) we spend well over $1,000 for the 8 days of Passover. Now, some of the food carries over for afterwards. I always overbuy because we don’t buy during the holiday and everyone always seems to be extra hungry then. I’d rather have stuff left over and use it over the next week or two than to run short! But we also spend the month or 2 before trying to use up all the non Passover foods so there isn’t so much to sell, toss or burn. That means I have to do a lot of restocking in the month or so after Passover too.

Lucky for me, April is usually the month I get 3 paycheques at work.

7 Kristy @ Master Your Card January 26, 2009

I’m terrible with budgeting car maintenance. I do them regularly, but when it happens it takes a nice bite out of my savings. You’d think I’d get better at this, but it never seems to fail. Outside of that, I don’t really notice too many seasonal expenses adding up. This year I have my best friends wedding going on, so I’ve had dress related expenses that I keep forgetting to budget for, so technically that falls under the irregular expenses, but it won’t be happening again next year or anything – at least, I hope not.

Kristy @ Master Your Card´s last blog post..Weekly Round-Up

8 momstheword January 26, 2009

I dry alot of my clothes in a rack in the bathtub and you’re right it can get humid (so sometimes I run the fan). But it takes alot longer to dry in the winter.

My seasonal bills are pretty much like everyone elses, the heating bill goes up, insurance premiums due. During the summer we may eat out if it’s to hot to cook, or I may hit a few garage sales, plus there is some gardening expenses.

momstheword´s last blog post.."MAKING YOUR HOME SING" MONDAY

9 Saver Queen January 27, 2009

Generally I think people spend more on cough&cold medicine. We also use the car more because it’s less pleasant to walk outside. More hot water. Winter sports (like skiing) are also more expensive. Oh! That reminds me! I want to go snow tubing this winter!

Saver Queen´s last blog post..How to have your own pub night at home

10 Teri January 27, 2009

Okay, this is probably a silly question….but why don’t you have a clothes dryer? Did yours break down and you simply don’t want to replace it, or it the clothes dryer a mostly American appliance? It seems it would be more cost effective to buy an efficient appliance than waste the time, and extra money to drive, plus the cost of the laundromat as well. ??

11 Kelly January 27, 2009

Hi Teri,
We don’t have a clothes dryer because we don’t have room for one. We did have one, but it died right around the time we had the opportunity to buy a used dishwasher. And all things being equal, I’d *much* rather have a dishwasher than a clothes dryer. That said, when we move, if we have room and the opportunity to buy a good, efficient dryer, you can bet your boots we will!

12 Monroe on a Budget January 27, 2009

That’s a good point about the Passover foods because it is such a change from what you normally eat. I am Catholic and observe the traditional no-meat days on Fridays during Lent. Meatless may or may not be more expensive depending on the food choices, but at least I don’t have to clean out my kitchen while planning those different meals.

Monroe on a Budget´s last blog post..Money bloggers talk about how to deal with a layoff

13 Sara at On Simplicit January 28, 2009

Allergy meds in the fall–that's a new one for me! I also shop more in winter since the cabin fever can hit pretty strong after a snowy weekend. I find it so much easier to find peace just hanging out outside in the spring.

<abbr>Sara at On Simplicity´s last blog post..Too Much Stuff? Sleep on It</abbr>

14 Emma @ January 28, 2009

My seasonal expense is the birthday presents. For some strange cosmic reason 80% of my friends have birthdays in October (not to mention my own and my son's) which makes it a very expensive month!

<abbr>Emma @´s last blog post..My miserable failure at brushing my toddler’s teeth</abbr>

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