Contributed by Rachel Stever. Last weekend my cousin announced her engagement on Facebook. I’m thrilled for her and her finance seems like a great guy, but I realized I am up to five weddings to attend in the next year or so. And at least three of these weddings will be out of state. This seems like the perfect time to start budgeting for next year.
I know, it seems early, but the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year season comes quicker than you think and I’m not going to get it done if I wait past Halloween, at least not with these added expenses. Besides, it’s the perfect way to pass the time during the middle of summer in Phoenix. (I’ve mentioned that I’m a nerd, right?) Last winter a friend from a colder climate was telling me about her SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) light. It gets so cold and dark in the winter that she had to buy a light to simulate sunshine. I need something that does the opposite for summer. In high school I tried to become nocturnal as soon as school let out. My mother didn’t appreciate this and it’s not really sustainable past that age.
By the end of July I need something to distract me from the heat. I don’t really care for action movies, it’s too hot to take the dogs to the park, and there’s only so much Netflix you can watch before it starts getting really specific with category recommendations. I always start to get antsy about now. When I was a child I always wanted to buy new school supplies as soon as the displays went up. I was sure each year would be the best ever as long as I had the perfect new backpack and the best marker set available. I still feel that way. Not about backpacks and markers, although I did start buying art supplies for my niece’s Christmas present last week, but about things in general.
I drive past a luxury car dealership everyday on the way to and from work. When I bought my car, I decided how long I wanted to keep it from the start and I still have a few years left, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about how nice a shiny new car would be. I’ve spent the last five years getting my house set up just how I like it and I love my neighborhood, but that doesn’t stop me from looking at apartment listings and thinking about moving to a new place. And while looking at my friends’ wedding registries, I keep thinking how nice it would be to upgrade all my linens and finally get that stand mixer I’ve always wanted.
But I can’t totally replace all my possessions and totally change out my life, no matter how bored I may be with my perfectly practical car and hand-held mixer. So I look at what I really want to change for next year. I love my friends and family and I love giving gifts so, more than I want a new car or home, I want to celebrate my friends’ weddings, wherever they are held. I want to explore a new city and learn more about my own hometown. And I want to keep spoiling my niece and nephew.
So I turn to my trusty spreadsheet and start planning for those things. I’ll keep adjusting my budget as new plans are added but I’ll be able to finish out this year with a good idea of what I’m getting into next year.