Planning your year-round family budget

Keeping to your monthly budget can be a real challenge when there are so many events and occasions taking place all year round. Just when you think you’ve got your finances under control and your savings moving in the right direction, something springs up that can throw you off course.

With a little planning, however, you can save small amounts over the year that will cover the expected, unexpected and those can’t-miss annual events. We take a look at every season of the year and some of the potential costs that could be on your family’s radar, with tips to budget for them in advance.

Happy family tobogganing

Winter

According to a Retail Council of Canada survey, the average Manitoban expects to spend $770 this holiday season, up from $608 last year. The increase is attributed to the cost of food, beverages and entertaining, along with spending on gifts and travel.

This sheds light on why so many Canadians go into debt over the holidays, with Bloomberg recently reporting that 25% of Canadians still hadn’t paid off last year’s holiday debts. To avoid this from happening, set up automatic savings of $50-$80 per month from January onwards and put it in a dedicated holiday account that you don’t touch.

This will free-up money from your budget to spend on other winter occasions, including activities you might do on long weekends such as Louis Riel Day, plus winter events like Festival du Voyageur.

Louis Riel Day, a statutory holiday unique to Manitoba, is observed on the third Monday of February. It is an opportunity for families to spend time together, learn about Métis culture and celebrate Louis Riel’s vision. Louis Riel was a champion for equal rights, social justice and bilingualism. He was the driving force behind Manitoba becoming Canada’s fifth province; under the Louis Riel Act, he holds the honorary title of ’First Premier of Manitoba’.

Western Canada’s largest annual winter festival, Festival du Voyageur, takes place in Saint Boniface, Winnipeg’s French quarter. “Festival” (‘val’ as in ‘valley’) celebrates Manitoba’s Francophone, Métis, and Indigenous histories! Experience traditional food and feast your eyes and ears on live music, dance, snow sculptures and the visual arts.

Spring

After a long, cold winter, many of us yearn to get away to warmer climates over spring break. However, you can expect a decent all-inclusive to cost about $275 per person, per night. That adds up quickly for families. While some choose to pay on credit, you could budget for your trip and pay for it from your planned savings.

Couple vacationing; sitting on a dock looking at a view of the ocean and palm trees

Work out how much you can afford to take from your monthly budget and multiply it by the number of months left between now and your trip. That amount is your vacation budget. For example, if you think you can cut back by $500 each month for about 6 months in advance, you would be able to put that $3,000 directly towards your trip.

Every month, put those savings into a specific trip fund so you can see the progress towards your goal. Then make your budget stretch by finding vacation packages from sites like Expedia and SellOffVacations.com.

Summer

There are so many ways to enjoy the summer in Manitoba without breaking the bank. Shorter trips, closer to home, can cost just a few hundred dollars and easily be saved in just a few months.

A trip to the Spirit Sands (a.k.a. Carberry Desert) in the Spruce Woods Provincial Park is a low-budget, high-value experience that you may never have experienced! Group fees for camping start at $33.60, a small price to pay to see Manitoba’s only desert, along unique plants, like the pincushion cactus, and animals like the hognose snake.

Audience at a rodeo

When public events are back in the swing of things, the Manitoba Stampede in Morris is one of many events that provide entertainment for the whole family. From the midway to the agricultural fair to the rodeo, there’s something for everyone. While hotels fill up quickly, there are campsites available at $75 for three nights, but be sure to book early. A stampede family pass is just $80 for two adults and two kids, making this a very affordable trip.

Fall

Back-to-school time can be costly for any family. With new clothes, backpacks and sports equipment all needed in addition to your regular expenses, the numbers add up. A good tip is to save your kids’ clothing budget over the preceding four months so that you have enough to pay for it all.

Children wearing back packs accompanied by an adult

Whether your kids are sports fanatics or they’re into music, dance, arts or other extra-curricular activities, these can come with many additional expenses. Between equipment, lessons, league fees and extra activities, it can add hundreds (or thousands) of dollars per child throughout the season, depending on their level. This kind of expenditure really needs its own budget.

Work out how much you’ll need, including the obvious costs such as registration fees and travel, as well as the hidden costs such as extra gas to drive them around, your own entrance fees to special events, plus hotels and food for “away” games and activities. Divide this total by 12 and put this monthly amount away over the year, in a dedicated account.

Savings accounts to keep you on budget

For more savings tips for your annual budget, contact your ACU financial advisor. They can give you great advice on how to save within your budget limits and which savings accounts are best suited to your needs.

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About James Burns

James Burns is a freelance writer and copywriter. With a background in journalism, financial services and marketing, he writes for a wide range of companies across the financial services spectrum. His articles and blogs provide financial advice and insights to both consumers and businesses.

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