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Planning the Fall – Tentative, of course


I may have not always been great at my money, but I am the queen of planning. From road trips to parties, school schedules or meal plans, I can plan with the best of them. This innate, a natural gift honed by working in special events at the Field Museum in Chicago for a little while and then as a homeschooling, working, single mom of 4. So it should come as no surprise that I have already planned out the end of the year.

I have a spreadsheet of all anticipated expenses and income. I have a calendar with all appointments, holidays and birthdays. And I spent today adding all the years school holidays to it. We, as a family, have used shared Google Calendars and Asana (task lists) for years. Each of the kids adds their own activities to the calendar and use it whenever they know they are going to need me or a ride from me.

All that to say…I’ve got our family plan done for the fall. And granted this is tentative and hopeful depending on what COVID and schools and money do. But this is the plan…

August and September

School starts back again next week and there is only one school holiday. As a result, these will be pretty quiet months with no anticipated out of the norm scheduling or spending. We will use this time to settle into the new school routine, work excessively (for me at least) and save money. I, personally, am really looking forward to some alone time and quiet. It’s been a LONG 6 months with all of us here.


Typically, I would have added this month to the previous statements; however, the Georgia State Fair is slated for this month and most likely Princess and Beauty will attend (if the schools do that this year) with some of their classes. Beauty is heavy into cosmetology and Princess hopes to take welding again this year.

That being said, there are two days off of school this month, so we have tentatively planned to go for a day to the State Fair as a family. I have a reserved a hotel room just in case. (They typically sell out far in advance.) But I can cancel it with no financial repercussions 24 hours in advance.

I’m wavering on buying advance tickets. I’m going to call on their refund policy in case it gets cancelled…right now the tickets would cost me $10 each. If I miss the advance window they are almost double that.

Note: this is also the month I plan to make a final decision on our Thanksgiving travels.


I’ve purchased the airline tickets for our trip to Texas for Thanksgiving. Now before we jump down my throat, let me explain. First, I priced both airlines and rental cars. Since 6 of us will be going (maybe, still not sure on Beauty,) I would need to rent a car if we drive. Either way it was looking like almost $1,300 and that didn’t include hotel and food if we drove. I did not like that price. But I knew as we get closer, prices aren’t going to get any cheaper.

But last week, I received an email from Southwest with their tempting sales fares. And decided to take a look. Low and behold, I was able to find cheaper round trip tickets from an airport closer to us – $78 to and $91 from. It brought the total price down a little over $100 and I didn’t think it would go any lower. So I called my dad to discuss.

Considering the uncertainty of COVID, etc. it’s really hard to know for sure what to do. But with Southwest’s liberal cancellation policy, which they have always been good at, even before COVID, we decided to chance it. And thankfully, my dad offered to help get us there.

He purchased 3 of the tickets using points including Beauty’s. This means if she needs or wants to cancel and remain here with her biological family, there will be no financial implications as he will get his points back. I purchased Gymnast, Princess and mine with my credit card. (And then paid it off immediately.)

This cuts our anticipated travel expenses by over half. And gives us the freedom to cancel last minute if we need too. If we do cancel, the monies remain travel credit with Southwest so I won’t get my money back, but we will have it for future flights. And everyone knows we like to travel.

So total cost for Thanksgiving travel…$505. Not too shabby.


We won’t go anywhere in December. Although the holidays and my birthday will cost some money…we really are low key for the school break during this time. I’m sure the 4 oldest will work. We will cook a big meal. And exchange presents. But really, we are pretty “un-traditional” when it comes to big holiday Christmas stuff so I’m not doing any planning for this month.

It feels really good to have my fall planned out. I feel prepared, well as much as anyone can be. And I don’t have to worry about the cost of travel, etc. Now to enjoy the last few days before the kids go back to school.


  • Reply SMS |

    Are schools going to be in-person in your area? Are they going to stagger attendance times or something for better social distancing?
    Also, a big crowded state fair doesn’t sound like such a good idea right now.

    • Reply Hope |

      They are going to be in person. No staggering or anything. Masks are optional.
      Families did have the option to choose virtual learning.
      All three of mine will be going back in person.

      The state fair is a couple months out. Planning in advance to save money, but knowing that we might have to cancel depending on what COVID does or they cancel. But right now it’s on.

      • Reply Emily N. |

        In person. No staggering. Masks optional. I’m not generally an advocate for homeschooling (having experienced it K-12), but under these circumstances I’d strongly recommend it.

        • Reply Hope |

          I offered that option (to the two littles and both declined.) Our distract is also offering virtual learning, but seeing how that went last Spring, I decided against it.

          • Emily N. |

            Personally I wouldn’t be giving kids an option that would be endangering their health and safety as well as that of others. I’ve heard that people weren’t particularly happy with virtual learning in the spring, but I hardly think that something implemented for the very first time with no notice is the standard by which to judge future endeavors.

          • Hope |

            I know this is not a laughing matter. But to be honest, I think if we are all stuck in the house for another 6 months or whatever, it may very well be even more dangerous to our health and safety…just saying!

    • Reply Cwaltz |

      If I’m not mistaken Georgia was the place where the crowded school hallways where no one was masked were photographed. Although I hear they lifted the suspension for the kiddos who photographed it.

      • Reply jj |

        And the same school where the picture was taken, has now been closed as 9 kids contracted Covid19 :/ :/ :/ They do not care about these kids at ALL.

  • Reply Anonymous |

    Why do you describe August as a no spend month when you have already spent a ton? You spent on school supplies, clothes, furniture, getting your son home… also, how will your budget change with the twins contributing $500 of the $650 rent? Will that be used to pay down debt? Or are you setting that aside to help them get set up in their own apartment?

    • Reply Hope |

      All of the spending you mention was done in July, not in the last week.
      My budget doesn’t change, the monies are still spent the same way with any and all excess going to debt.
      The agreement is the month they move out, I will return that month’s $250. And I am helping them with their deposit.

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    Has History Buff managed to find a car? Rural regions usually require some form of transportation to get around.

    • Reply Hope |

      I wrote sometime back that he bought a $1,000 truck. It’s exactly what an $1,000 truck should be, but it runs.
      I believe it was May he bought it, just in time for a visit from his girlfriend (and Sea Cadet’s girlfriend) from Virginia.

  • Reply JDT |

    I just saw a headline (that you may have seen as well) that the North Ga State Fair is being cancelled (or postponed til next year). I am not sure if that is the same one you are thinking of, but wanted you to be aware for planning purposes.

So, what do you think ?