Summertime, and the living is not all that easy

brussels sproutsSo far, summer has been crazy busy, and the red in my budget reflects that — especially when it comes to food. I’ve identified a few issues:

Problem: Wasted food. Fresh produce is suddenly available, but I need to work on my timing. I missed at least two meals’ worth of asparagus from our garden, for instance, because I forgot to harvest it in time. While home-grown vegetables are (arguably) free, letting them go to seed in the garden or wilt in the fridge means having to buy something else.

Solution: Use my food resources wisely. I’m making more of an effort to use fresh fruits and vegetables when they are available and save the non-perishable foods for another day.

Problem: Winter’s over and life is good! Getting through winter is cause for celebration (especially in Vermont), and right now I’m celebrating — frequently. For example, I was so happy about going to the garden center last week that I stopped at the bakery and got a bagel and coffee for the ride. We’ve gone out for ice cream several times, because we’ve been cooped up all winter. We order pizza and eat on the porch because, hey, it’s summer. 

Solution: Settle down, girl. It’s great that summer finally came. And while I’m giddy with the sunshine and flowers and long days, I don’t need to mark every butterfly sighting with a treat. The beautiful weather IS the treat.  

Problem: I’m sooo busy. Work has been crazy lately. And at home, the vegetable gardens need all the attention I can give them. I just don’t have the time or energy to cook like I do in winter. Things I regularly do in January — such as plan for leftovers on weeknights so I don’t have to buy lunch the next day — have gone by the wayside. I stop at the store almost daily to grab last-minute dinner ingredients, and usually end up buying things I don’t need.

Solution: Plan ahead. This is a no-brainer. This past weekend I planned three meals (it’s a start), taking into account what the garden might yield. Five minutes spent on a Sunday jotting down meal ideas saves me time, money and trips to the store later in the week. 

Problem: Waah, I don’t wanna worry about the food budget right now! I have a hard time reconciling my childhood memories of summer as lazy and carefree with the reality that these days, it’s anything but. I’ve identified ways to rein in the food budget. But can’t I just let things go for once?

Solution: Budget in some breathing room. Last year, I budgeted extra food money for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it made the holidays much less stressful. Maybe I’ll do the same for next summer. I don’t think I’ll ever call summers “lazy” again, but I could use a little bit of “carefree.”

Do you find your food budget harder to manage in the summer, or is it just me? Please share your struggles — and your solutions.


7 Responses to “Summertime, and the living is not all that easy”

  1. Lisa

    Oh, you must be reading my mind today! I feel your pain. I was just whacking more moles in my budget to finish up the month and I wondered why in the world we have spent so much this month! I have been stashing away savings for a kitchen remodel project, and this month, I’ll be contributing about $1200 less to that project. The culprits? Well, my older daughter needed more shorts. She leaves for summer camp soon…14 days away from home with no laundry. So, we went to the outlets. I needed some new things too. Lots of great deals…about $400 worth! But I don’t feel too guilty. I always buy things on clearance for ridiculously low prices. And I knew the money was elsewhere in the budget and decided that this really was more important that the kitchen fund this month.

    What else? Paying the balance on the kids summer camp. Paying for fall soccer registration. And summer voice lessons for the girls. And oh, the vehicle registration/taxes that are due this month. I had enough income to cover it all, but my kitchen fund is paying the price.

    The one I really can’t justify was Dining Out. Yes, we had one really nice meal out with friends that pushed the spending higher. But even if I take that out, those few extra coffee runs and a stop or two at the ice cream shop really add up. Those two trips out to the beach (along with breakfast on the way, fried dough for lunch…) didn’t help either.

    Next month should be better…no more summer clothing purchases, my younger daughter’s extra day camp fees are already in there, and vacation is fully-funded (barring any unforeseen “extras” that sometimes strike your fancy).

    • apieceofvt

      Fortunately, my daughter’s summer camp was fully budgeted. It’s the devil-may-care, let’s-enjoy-the-summer, small impulse purchases that are killing me. I don’t think I’d dare go to the outlets at this point!

  2. smeisner14

    I feel ya with this one. Summer for me means lots of softball and sand volleyball, which means eating out with friends pre- or post-game, and if it’s post-game, well…that usually means a margarita or a good beer. Sure, I could not go, I could skip the booze, but who wants to tighten up during the summer months? I want to sit on the patio and sip my marg, and be carefree! Summer also means more money spent on fuel since we are out camping or at softball tournaments every other weekend (although I’ve been biking to work regularly to try to make up for it…). I live in Alaska and if you want to get anywhere outside of Anchorage you’re looking at a 2 hour drive, one way, to reach your destination (at least!). I love it, but man, gas prices just spiked to $4.14 (!!!) and that’s hurting my budget a bit.

    Luckily, I’ve managed to house sit to bring in some extra income, and my boyfriend just moved in so that means half the rent (I love him so it’s exciting, but it’s also a HUGE savings, most of which will go toward CC debt…and gas -_- ). I know I could be more frugal BUT like you, we get cooped up allllllll winter and the last thing I want to do in the summer is miss out on fun with friends.

  3. alexblogsforynab

    Settle down, girl. I loved this bit. I really get it.

    I, too, find summer to be taxing for the budget (moreso when I was partnered; there’s something about having another person with whom to devise excuses that lets one off the hook a bit easier). For me, it wasn’t the food as much as it was the accesory-like things: bug spray, sunscreen, new lawn chairs, a beach umbrella, sand toys, admission to the theme park… the list could go on. And yeah, okay, I do end up buying the odd thing at the snack shack at the beach, so I guess food is a part of it, too.

    Summer and Christmas used to be budget killers. Now I have a Christmas budget, and I stick tightly to my regular monthly budget even in summertime. Which likely makes me no fun at all for my kids. But you’re right: the gifts *are* the little things, like the weather, and being at the beach, and staying up late, and campfires.

    Happy summer! Now settle down.

  4. Jimmy Lavoie

    Thank you! I tought I was the only one having this problem. I started budgetting 3 months ago and everything was fine, until June arrived. I got a lot of red amounts, Hopefully I budgetted for a buffer (something I never did before), as it helped me to not be broken. On July 1st, I’m going to pay my first month in my appartment (I can’t wait to live in my own home!) and I’m not really scared I will be able to survive (this is the new “me” thank to YNAB!).

  5. Marianne

    I am right there with all of you. This month has been hard on our budget too. So much so that I think I should start over with my YNAB budget. We sold my DH’s Mother’s home this month and that gave us extra funds going through the budget. However I haven’t used any of it except to take our adult/kids out for a really great dinner to show them how much we really appreciate their help on the house. There definitely is more to spend money on in summer so next year I will have to budget it like Christmas and save extra for it. Enjoy your summer it is too short here in Ontario, Canada

  6. Shayna

    summer is actually when i can top off emergency funds and put a little away to savings. why? no school tuition, no extra curricular activities tuition, and no little girl asking for every glittery thing that catches her eye. i send her off to spend the summer at the beach with her grandparents, and i spend my evenings sipping a glass of wine and chillaxing.

    i love summer.

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