Does your budget change with the seasons?

I’m a teacher, so my routine in the summer is different from during the school year.  This affects our budget in lots of ways, both big and small, and if I’m conscious about my summer spending patterns, can add up to a period of increased savings.

I’m lucky in that I’m on a year-long contract, so I still get paid the same amount during the summer months.  I can remember my aunt (who was also a teacher) having to teach summer school and get other second jobs to make up for the slack during the vacation period.  So in terms of income, nothing changes.

The big budget categories that are the most affected during the summer are (number one with a bullet) gas and food.  I spend a lot of money during the school year on gas for my commute, averaging 50-60€ every week or so.  For those of you living in the States, I spend about $75 a week on gas.  Seriously.  I’m only a 20-minute commute from my job when there’s no traffic, but that can easily become 45 minutes on more when there is, and as most of you know the price of gasoline in Europe is very high.

Our grocery spending goes up somewhat in the summer simply because I’m home all day with the girls, so we’re eating lunch here every day.  However, I also cook more in the summer because I have the time, so I save by buying less prepared meals and having more time to bargain shop for what I do buy—making fewer quick grabs from the high-priced corner store.

We’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) in that air-conditioning in private homes is basically non-existent here, so we save on energy costs in the summertime by not having to use the heat or electricity as much.  Our little apartment gets lots of light, so we almost never have to flip the switch when it’s daylight, and if we open the windows in the back rooms we can get a nice mountain breeze that usually compensates for not running fans.

The area I have to be most careful about during the summer?  Impulse buys.  Having more free time can equal more time to shop, but as we live in a small village with plenty of free entertainment in the park across the street, as long as I leave the car parked I can usually go several days without spending anything.  And that can equal big savings.

What about you?  Do you have a period in the year when you spend less money and can tuck more away?


1 Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet August 25, 2010

I can definitely see a difference with our grocery bill at this time of year. We are eating lots of food from the garden and our CSA.

This past week the weather finally cooled down and we were able to turn off the ac which will be helpful because it has been on most of the summer. The weather has been in the mid-90s quite a bit.

2 Kristen August 25, 2010

We run fans instead of an AC in the summer, which saves us loads on electricity costs… but I suspect much of this savings is offset by the fact it’s too hot to even turn on the stove for any length of time (and living in NYC means all the “too hot to cook? use your grill!” recipes/articles I read are wasted on me) so we turn to convenience foods instead.

3 Damita August 25, 2010

Yes I totally agree with you, for some reason because I am off during the summer due to currently studying at uni our food bill goes up loads and even more so when the husband is off for a week or two (he eats waay to much!), other than that most our bills stay the same.

4 Pam McCormick August 26, 2010

I have to tell you I find this fascinating.I never really thought about if the budget changed seasonally.I especially love learning about other peoples lives and how different or the same it is in various countries.I am in New York approx 1 mile from Lake Ontario.We have used ac alot this summer but the bill is almost the same as we use a couple of tricks.We keep humidity out by closing windows,we use lined curtains and or honey comb energy shades kept down to block hot sun and heat.We reverse it at night or during the winter.We go to a public market to buy direct from growers every saturday morning and we do that year round.Some veggies(tomato,lettuce etc)in the winter are hydroponics and we buy seasonal things like squash,turnip,cabbage etc.

5 Chris August 26, 2010

Great post! I can usually manage to hold off with the air conditioning until the gross humidity sets in. That’s what kills me!

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