How To Budget for One Thing After Another
Fighting Budget Fatigue
When a few big scheduled events happen in close succession, it poses a bit of a budgeting challenge.
Do you budget one big lump sum?
Do you budget for each event separately?
Do you even budget at all or just throw money into an account and then hope for the best?
The latter may seem like the best approach, especially when you’re probably going to spend the money regardless of whether you have it or not. After all, you will not cancel a holiday, especially if you have credit cards available.
The High Holy Days
Jews around the world are getting ready for the High Holy Days, which are coming really soon. So naturally, this poses a real challenge, especially since it usually coincides with the beginning of the winter season, which includes its own set of expenses and planning.
Although I will be talking about the High Holy Days specifically, you can apply these ideas to any set of events that happen in close proximity to each other.
I have usually set aside money for all the holidays and clothes shopping at once and did a one lump budgeting method in past years. What usually happened is that we would run out of money towards the end of the “season” and put some on the credit card. When that happened, “budget fatigue” set in.
What is Budget Fatigue?
Budget Fatigue is when you become sick and tired of your budget, probably because it is not working, and you decide to ditch the whole thing in the trash. This worked for us because once we were putting SOME money on the credit card, we ended up putting MORE money on the credit card.
Once we “failed” at sticking to the budget- we might as well stop pinching pennies and just rack up “a little more debt” and enjoy ourselves. We didn’t go and buy Lamborghini, but we didn’t necessarily check prices on every item, and we did end up making some pricier dishes or just buying clothes even though they weren’t on sale, or we weren’t positive that we needed them. Sounds familiar? I can’t be the only one with this thought process!
This year, we are trying something a little different.
It started off when my husband’s side hustle unexpectedly made a large, lump sum of money. So we decided to take that money and put it aside specifically for Rosh Hashana. Not all the holidays, not winter clothes, not travel for holiday expenses but Rosh Hashana. We then decided to budget for each separate holiday and expense separately.
Rosh Hashana- $500
Yom Kippur- $50
Winter Clothing- $500
These numbers are for illustrative purposes only. You may have heart palpitations looking at these numbers, or you may feel like I am hopelessly out-of-touch. Whatever. The point is to try to budget a realistic amount of money for each holiday. Theoretically, you will have done this last year already and have been working all year to save enough money to fully fund all this with money in the bank.
Even if you don't have a dime saved, IT IS WORTH IT TO SET A BUDGET. Click To Tweet(You will see why momentarily).
Here is the idea:
You do your best to stay within budget, hopefully having enough money in the bank or cover all these expenses. You do this by utilizing every frugal and budgeting hack you know of and the ones you research (Here are some ideas). The point is to stay within the budget.
Now, let’s say you spend $400 on Rosh Hashana instead of $500. Congratulations! You are awesome! Keep that $100 for Rosh Hashana next year (or maybe roll it into Sukkot).
Let’s say you don’t stay under budget. You spend too much. That’s OK. No one is perfect, and life sucks sometimes. Being Jewish is freaking expensive (substitute your religion, your unique set of circumstances here). Don’t be discouraged. Don’t let it get you down.
Make a note of how much you spent and keep that number as a reference for next year. And as the High Holy Days preach, you now have a clean slate. The disappointment doesn’t need to carry over. Don’t let it ruin the rest of the budget. Don’t let Budget Fatigue set in.
You now have Yom Kippur to contend with.
Why did I budget for Yom Kippur when there are so few expenses associated with it, and it is so monetarily insignificant compared to the two holidays that sandwich it?
You can probably stay in the budget for this one and hopefully even cash-flow it. This gives you a win! It’s the equivalent of putting really basic tasks on a to-do list. Then, when you cross something off, you feel accomplished and positive.
Remember, it’s not about the money but the feelings behind it. Feeling happy about your budget will make you happier overall about staying within budget. It will make you happier about delaying gratification to save money for your budget. It will make you happier about your money choices. Never underestimate the power of doing something well.
Budgeting for the High Holy Days
Following the success (hopefully) of Yom Kippur, you can move onto Sukkot. Again, you may or may not stay within budget. But… if you do go over budget, you don’t need to throw your hands in the air. You can accept that you are not able to stay in your target goal.
You can evaluate what made you go over budget (Did you not budget high enough? Did you not have enough money put away? Were certain things more pricey than you expected?) and then adjust accordingly.
Do you need to make more money? Do you need to put more money over the course of the year into your Holiday account? These are all problems that you can analyze and solutions found.
If you budgeted enough for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur but not enough for Sukkot, you don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the High Holy Days. You just need to be overwhelmed by Sukkot. That is a much smaller problem to face. Therefore a much smaller solution needs to be found.
When you have separate budgets for each smaller event, then you can make more targeted solutions; you have bite-sized problems that can be dealt with one at a time instead of one large insurmountable problem.
Is this all psychological maneuvering?
After all, the numbers will be the same no matter what.
Well, yes, these are all some form of mind games that we play with ourselves. But, you are not a computer. You are not a machine. You don’t deal with money purely on a monetary basis. You deal with emotions. You deal with fatigue. You deal with being overwhelmed and being stressed. You deal with desperation. You turn to spend to cope. You turn to denial to cope.
That’s because you are a human being. Humans are not purely logical creatures, and you are not a purely logical person. You have to work WITH the emotions that govern your spending and your budgeting. Mind games work.
Helpful Tip: There is a great app that I just discovered (thank @Journey2debt_freedom on Instagram. Follow her and me for these types of great tips!) that allows you to see spending goals visually.
It is a free app that I got from the play store. It lets you set a goal, and then it shows you how much more you have to save. It can help you really track smaller money savings goals. This can be great if you have all your Holiday expenses in one account and don’t want to open a million accounts.
How do you budget for BIG expenses that come right after the other?
Read More about Jewish Holidays on a Budget!
Passover/Pesach on a budget. We did our debt-free!
Chanukah, Channuka, Channukah, Hannukah, Hannuka, Hanuka…. No matter how you spell it you can celebrate!
3 thoughts on “One Thing After Another”
Trial and error has played a huge role for me when figuring out how much to set aside in sinking funds for those large expenses that come up each year. I do my best to predict an variable expense but it doesn’t always work out the way I want it to. And that still frustrates me! Trying to get better at “rolling with the punches”!
It’s so hard! I think its important to make sure to not get discouraged when the expenses add up. The enemy of good is perfection:)
Oh gosh I can’t . I don’t. I want to. I always have to fake it or spend nothing or find a way to make a food gift w my Ebt so we don’t spend out of pocket. This year I used Christmas money that my step dad gave me and spent 20.00 on each kid from it. Shhhh