The Importance of a Weekly Plan to Reduce Spending

The Importance of a Weekly Plan to Reduce Spending - USAA Member Community


Weekly family activity planning is hard work. The weekly plan starts to become expensive and a potential budget buster when take-out food and purchasing last minute items become the standard and not the exception. Creating a shared calendar, pre-making meals and snacks, packing an activity bag in the car, keeping a close eye on network data overages, and coordinating with other parents are a great way to plan an effective week while saving money and minimizing expenses.  


For the summer and the school year, having a great weekly plan leads to a less hectic life (a win!) and a win for your budget. Follow these simple tips to plan and have a more scheduled and a less hectic life.


Weekly Planning Tip #1 – Plan the Week with Sticky Notes. A great way to determine the moving weekly schedule is to use sticky notes to determine activities by which person. You can use the layout as follows:


Family Member
























Child 1








Child 2










Using this layout with sticky notes, you can assign which parent is responsible (or which child) for getting the other family member to and from the activity. Additionally, laying this table out on a dining room or even a floor is a great way to visualize the week and spot any potential conflicts. Time and gas expense can be saved to group activities and pick-ups / drop offs in the same part of town to reduce gas expense driving back and forth across town.


Weekly Planning Tip #2 – Take Food In Reusable Containers. In order to save money, actively prepare and freeze 4-5 dinners and lunches the weekend before and refrigerate them during the week. Takeout food, drive through, and buying snacks get very expensive very fast. The prepared meals can be either reheated at home or taken with you to activities. Keeping the car stocked with healthy snacks and drinks keeps everyone fed and healthy while reducing unnecessary calories and expensive snacks. Finally, in the summer, make sure that you bring extra water for everyone in the car.

Weekly Planning Tip #3 – The Activity Bag. Have a bag of small toys, coloring books, crayons, and other games in a small duffel bag in the car. This is your indispensable tool of choice so children that are waiting at an activity or during errands have something constructive to do that keeps them engaged and occupied. The activity bag can include homework tools for older children so they can do their daily homework either in the car or at the activity instead of waiting to do homework once they arrive home. Keeping everyone engaged while they wait is an absolute essential so you don’t spend on something to keep them engaged.


Weekly Planning Tip #4 – Watch The Network Data Minutes. It is so easy to run up network data minutes watching videos, using apps, or surfing the internet while waiting at activities. These additional network data minutes can take a tremendous unexpected part of your monthly budget if you use too many data minutes than your plan allows. First, when you go to an activity, try and use their available Wi-Fi for free. Remember that each individual Wi-Fi network has varying levels of security standards so you may want to consider not connecting to the network if you question its security quality. Second, install apps that center on learning games and learning activities so the kids can use their devices with engagement and learning without a data network. Finally, keep some traditional books and magazines in the activity bag and read from a paperback book.


Weekly Planning Tip #5 – Coordinate with Other Parents. The challenge of running and coordinating an active household in between work and other required appointments is a challenge for all families. Assemble a list of reliable contacts in each of your child’s (and your) activities that you can call on to help with an occasional drop-off or pick-up at an activity. This occasional help can be a time saver and a budget saver so you do not have to use a taxi or a car service to take the child to and from an activity. This also gives you a chance to make new friends and strengthen your social ties within the community.


What are your tips to help with unexpected expenses during the week? Share your advice below.

About the blogger:
Chad is the author of two books: (1) Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and (2) Battlefield to Business Success. Chad’s brand message is that organizations & individuals need to translate and apply military skills to business because they immediately produce results and are cost effective. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab.   Chad is an adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in over 110 different articles in over 85 separate publications including The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.




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