As tempting as it may be, you never want to put your budget on autopilot.
New expenses come up every month. So if you’re just changing the name of the month at the top of your budget and nothing else, then you are not accounting for new costs, which will proceed to bite you in the . . . budget. But there’s good news: We have a list to help you plan instead of panic.
Related: The Simple Way to Make a Budget
In addition to your regular monthly expenses—food, gas, utilities and so forth—here are a few costs to consider when creating your August budget:
1. Back-to-school supplies. This includes stuff like pencils, paper, backpacks, notepads, calculators and other necessary school supplies on the classroom list.
2. New school clothes or uniforms. This is a must, especially if the pants your kid was just wearing in the spring are now high-waters after a summer growth spurt. In 2012, the National Retail Federation reported that parents spent an average of almost $250 on back-to-school clothes. You can’t be ready for an expense like that without some significant planning.
Related: How to Budget for Back-to-School
3. Gasoline/car maintenance. If you drive your kids to school, this is the month where a higher fuel bill kicks in, not to mention the extra wear and tear on your vehicle.
4. Vaccinations or exams. Many schools (especially those for younger children) want kids to be up-to-date on shots before the school year starts. This is also a good time to get your child’s eyes checked. If they need new glasses, you might consider getting this done before summer ends.
5. Sports or activity fees. Extracurricular activities, even at a public school, are rarely free. You may have to provide music instruments or band uniforms. Or if your child plays community sports, you will have sign-up costs and fees for jerseys, shoes or gear.
6. Lunch money. Unless your son or daughter takes their lunch to school, you’ll need to add some dollars into the spending plan so they can eat.
7. Labor Day getaway. The kids may already be back to school at this point, but summer isn’t officially over. Are you thinking of planning one last hurrah for Labor Day? Make sure you set a budget and pay for it before you go.
8. Christmas saving. We have four months left before the gifts go under the tree. Hopefully the amount you’ve saved will keep you from flinching at holiday price tags.
This is the time of year when people start getting back into routines and becoming more motivated. Use this time to think ahead. When those unexpected expenses pop up in the months to come, they won’t be nearly as stressful because you’ve got a good budget to work with.