Spring and summer have an abundance of traditional spending opportunities. You've got Mother's and Father's Day. There are graduations and proms. Once school gets out, you have summer camps and vacations to consider. It's easy to panic when you have these things come up. The beauty of it, though, is that since you know they're coming, you can plan for them.
Mother's and Father's Days come the same time every year and you'll know well in advance about any graduate you'll need a gift for. Proms you can plan on (even if you don't end up needing the budgeted money!). And, of course, summer camps and vacations can definitely be done with the right pre-planning in place.
You don't want to get caught off guard with a major expense - especially one that you could have been ready for. Some people prefer to set aside a standard amount each month for things like gifting occasions or vacations. Others prefer to budget in advance for specific things like a vacation.
No matter which way you decide to go, know your numbers and stick to them. If you decide that your gifting budget is $10 a month over the course of a year then don't go overboard with gifts that creep outside your limits. If your vacation budget is $1000, make sure you don't book a hotel that's $900 and expect to make the rest of it work on the remaining $100. Your budget will work for you even when you are spending on fun things!
In addition to planning, there are two other key things I always recommend for my clients. First, you don't have to spend a fortune for a great gift or vacation. Sentimental gifts can be very inexpensive and staycations can save you a bundle. Second, don't overlook the gift of your time. Volunteering on behalf of someone for your favorite charity or baking a fresh batch of their favorite cookies can often be more welcome than anything big bank accounts can buy!
Don't let the emotions of these occasions sidetrack your commitment to your budget and your debt reduction plan. You can still have lots of fun and celebrate while staying on track!