For most families, keeping on top of the finances is an ongoing battle. You think everything is sorted for the month, then the car breaks down or you get a letter asking for payment for a school trip. This seems to be the story of our lives and it has got even worse with three kids at secondary school. The uniforms are more expensive, the trips are more expensive, the music lessons are more expensive and there’s an expensive school bus to pay for. It’s a lot to juggle.
And then there’s the occasional spending. You know, birthdays and Christmas. For us, our occasions are divided neatly into quarters. There’s my daughter’s birthday in March, then my husband and eldest have their birthdays in June, followed by me in September and my younger son in October, followed by, of course, Christmas in December.
We don’t think about my younger son’s birthday until after my birthday and we don’t think about Christmas until after his birthday. But it still feels like a lot of spending all at once.
You would think, after all this time, that I would have got used to the cost of birthdays and Christmas, but I really haven’t! I set a budget for presents, which I’m very good at sticking to. But I forget about the cost of Christmas dinner and tea for ourselves and several more family members, or a family birthday party, as well as one for the kids’ friends. Then there’s the birthday cake, the cards, the balloons and decorations. Suddenly it feels like my present budget is only half of the story.
I try to be sensible, but I think most people spend too much at Christmas.
How do you manage your money for special occasions? Do you have a budget and stick to it or do you find yourself overspending?