Back to School Routine: Back to Financial Routine
Yesterday was the first day of school for our kids. Like many parents, we were more than eager to send them back to school after what felt like a pretty long summer. Jill and I were way past the bickering and "I'm bored" comments.
Then a truly amazing thing happened: the school bus came. The kids got on. And there was silence in our house for 7 consecutive hours.
I’m not gonna lie. It. Was. AWESOME!
Over the past few weeks, I imagine many of you’ve had some of the same conversations as me:
"Ready for the kids to go back to school?"
The first time I answered I was probably like "Hell yeah! Are you kidding?!"
But the more I thought about it, the more my answer changed. And honestly, I was really feeling pretty bittersweet about it.
First, school starting back up means summer is shutting down. I love summer! Warm weather, beach time, pool days, BBQs, maybe a little golf? And on top of that, our kids don’t play sports in July/August so our schedule is not nearly as hectic. We had free weeknights AND weekends for bike rides, yard work, organizing the house, going to the pool, & spur of the moment get-togethers with friends. Anything, really! It was glorious.
With the laissez faire attitude of summer, we were also pretty lax as parents (for us, anyway). We hit the grocery store less and ate out more. We took some impromptu trips. Bed times for the kids crept later as the summer rolled on. And as Sutton pointed out on more than one occasion: "Dad, how am I supposed to go to bed? The sun is still out."
We had plenty of FUN. And that's what summer is all about, right? I hate seeing summer come to an end.
But I also kind of love that summer is ending.
I saw a bunch of the "first day of school" photos on FB last week (Virginia and beyond) and yesterday (Maryland, mostly). We love seeing those pics. And what caught my attention was the number of folks who mentioned getting back into the routine.
Last night was our first night after school. The girls had soccer practice, dinner needed to be made and eaten, showers, the whole kit and kaboodle. 5:45p turned into 8:45p in the blink of an eye. That's what the school year is like most nights in our house. I imagine many of you experience something similar. The weekends are a little less hectic but instead of one or two practices, we have multiple games over both days. Plus birthday parties, social events, and everything else needed to make the household run that we don’t have time for during the week.
That routine is what is so great about going back to school. Yeah, it can be crazy and nutty and out of control at times. Our kids, though they won't admit it, thrive on the routine and consistency that summertime seems to repel. And while it's going to be an adjustment for the kids as well as Jill and me, we are ready for it. It will require organization, structure and dedication to make sure our house is running smoothly.
You know what else requires organization, structure, & dedication to make sure it's running smoothly?
Your financial life.
It can be easier to run our financial life like it's summer all the time. Way easier. It's more fun, too. And who doesn’t like more fun?!
The school year, on the other hand, is like living within the strict confines of a budg*t - I mean spending plan. It’s more rigid. It’s more scheduled. Summertime is like, well, it's not like living within those confines.
The summer can always be an easier time to spend (more) money. As you're getting your kids back into their routine (and maybe doing the same thing on your end, too!), take this opportunity to get your finances back into a (improved) routine as well.
Rack up some debt this summer having a little too much fun? Develop a plan to pay it off quickly
Spend a little too much of your pillow money making memories with the fam? Figure out how to plump up that pillow money ASAP
Did you turn off a savings plan to fund a summer vacay plan? Don't forget to turn it back on before it becomes part of your spending plan.
There's nothing wrong with any of the examples above. We can and will mistakes. Remember: we're all human. I've written about this before: it's okay to make a mistake. Try not to compound it with another one on top of it.
That's why we need the organization, the structure, and the dedication in our financial lives that we apply in our real lives.
Yeah, it would be great to coast along in our financial lives - and sometimes it's okay to do that. The reality is if we aren't being consistent with our savings, organized with our financial decision making, and dedicated to our investment plan(s), we're going to have a harder time achieving our financial goals.
And remember that couple who retired on accident? That's basically what we're trying to do if we don't get into and stick to a solid routine with our finances.