Bye Bye Summertime: Budget for Reality

Sad but true. Those lazy summer days have come to an end and it’s time to switch your vacation brain back to productive mode. But you can bring that relaxed state of mind back to work with you and find a refreshed perspective on your projects and goals—and your finances as well.

Wondering how you can get your finances back on track and budget for reality?

Jump Start Your Week

As the week drags on and summer memories dance in your head, it’s easy to find yourself less and less enthusiastic about getting your work done. So try to skip the Monday blues and jump start your week on Sunday evening by paying bills before you forget. Take the time to shop around for the week so you don’t have to rush and grab your groceries on a weeknight from the most convenient, but usually more expensive, store.

Cook Out, Dine In

You might feel like dining out all the time if that’s what you were used to for the last few weeks this summer. But greasy fast food and rich restaurant meals add on the pounds while also quickly eating up your budget. If you live with others, take turns cooking, or if you’re living solo, look up some interesting new recipes that you can make quickly and cheaply with simple ingredients. You could even try recreating that exotic meal you tried on your vacation, or those sugary cold drinks you sipped on the beach. Search for food blogs that specialize in your favorite cuisine, or check out websites like Epicurious.com or Chow.com. Also, invite friends over and cook dinner together. After all, everyone’s suffering from the end-of-summer blues, so why not suffer together?

Recreate Summer

Feel like something’s missing without your daily laps in the warm blue sea? Just because your vacation’s over doesn’t mean you should stop enjoying yourself. Find a way to recreate your summer adventures on a smaller scale and on a smaller budget. You can go swimming at a community or gym pool or try joining a hiking or walking club for weekend outings in the great outdoors.

Stop Shopping

No matter how near or far you traveled for your vacation, you probably indulged in some personal and souvenir shopping. Now that you’re back home, even though the mall isn’t very exotic, you might find yourself still stuck in shopping mode. To prevent a slip of the credit card, leave it (or them) at home. Sum up all your expenses from your vacation—food, lodging, shopping, etc.—and write that number down in big and red marker on a piece of paper that is well displayed in your home. Keep that figure in mind the next time you feel an urge to shop.

Give it a week or two and you’ll be dreaming up your next vacation—and hopefully starting to save up for it too.

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