Summer is coming to an end; August is your last chance to do a number of things before school starts and “normal life” returns. Your July financial checklist should be just about finished, and you should be getting ready for everything that comes with fall.

August is a great time to look ahead to the school year, and plan your finances for the rest of the year. Here are 6 things you can do in August to keep your finances on track:

1. Begin Back to School Shopping

This is probably a no-brainer for anyone with school age children. Now is the time to look for back to school sales, coupons and promotions. You can find some good deals on summer clothing (it’s clearance time) that most kids can wear for at least the month of September — and maybe even October.

2. Budget for School Activities

If your children are involved in extracurricular activities, begin making a plan to pay for them. Look at last year’s costs, and use those costs to estimate your expenses this school year. You can begin setting money aside in a high yield savings account so that the cost of paying for sports, arts, music and other activities don’t come as such a blow to the budget. Figure out how much time you have before different payments are due, and decide how much of each paycheck needs to go in the special savings account.

For those whose family budgets are tight, now might be the time to have a heart to heart with the children about limiting some of the extracurricular activities. Encourage them to decide what is most important, and focus on that.

3. Consider Car Shopping

If you have been thinking about buying a car, now might be the time to start looking around for one. Many dealers are beginning to slash prices in order to clear the lots for the next round of new models. This can be a great time to buy if you are in the market for a new car, since you can get 2010 models on discount.

You might also be able to find some good deals on used cars and lease returns. The turnover in the model year for cars can affect other dealers as well.

4. Shop Seasonal Sales

As you might expect, August is a time of good seasonal sales. Air conditioners, lawn mowers (and other yard equipment) and outdoor furniture all go on sale in August. As summer winds down, retailers want to clear out their summer merchandise to make room for autumn — and even holiday — items. Begin looking for good deals on summery things you have been meaning to buy. You could still get a few weeks out of a new patio set, and you’ll be all ready for next summer.

5. Review Your Insurance

Now is a good time to check your insurance policies. Review your auto, life and health coverage to make sure that it is adequate. Consider the needs of your family, whether it is growing or shrinking. It might be time to drop some unneeded insurance coverage, or add coverage you have been lacking. If you don’t have disability insurance, now might be a good time consider it. If your insurance is no longer meeting your needs, check with your agent about when you can make changes to your coverage.

6. Replenish Your Emergency Fund

There are a number of things that can happen during the summer that cause you to tap into your emergency fund. If you have used money from your emergency fund, make a plan to replenish it as soon as possible. Budget a repayment plan if necessary. If you don’t begin replenishing your emergency fund, you may find it inconveniently low when you need the money later.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.