I have talked the virtues of a budget up the wazoo. And it’s no wonder - budgets do a whole lot of wonderful things for helping us know how to boss our dollars around! Sometimes, though, I talk about “the budget” as if it seldom, or never, changes, and that is simply not the case.
Why a Budget Might Change
Budgets can change for a whole slew of reasons. For me, my budget typically changes when:
Other than December, we rely on our monthly “gifts” partition to cover gift expenses for birthdays, weddings, baby showers, and the like to others. However, since we enjoy being nice, we like to expand that partition on months when more than one gift is going to be given (even though we also practice “rollover” for months that we don’t purchase any gifts). For the two of us, we choose to only purchase major wants on these special occasions, and we plan accordingly. Often, this looks like a very nice dinner out (mostly for me) and maybe some new computer software, monitor, microphone, or speakers (always for him), but we count it under “gifts” because it is the gift of an experience, not us deciding to eat out and/or buy more electronic paraphernalia. :)
It isn’t just the Gifts partition that expands on occasion. I know that people eat more over 5 weeks than 4, and since I like to line up months based on our check-in routine rather than the first and last dates of each month, that means it is only fair to expect the same cost per day out of us over 5 weeks as I do over 4 weeks. Likewise, I reduce February’s grocery budget because it frequently counts as a mere 3 week month based on a nice clean cut-off day of Sunday.
I plan to spend more on electricity in the fall and winter than in the spring and summer because I don’t like to be cold and I don’t like to sit in the dark. Rather than beat myself up over not being on budget during the winter, I adjust my summer and spring expectations to make up for having livable falls and winters. Likewise, I know I will probably spend more money on water in the summer when I am trying to keep the lawn alive. These annual fluctuations are simply part of the ebb and flow in my budget, and they change whenever we decide they need to. Most of the time, the changes balance out and we have similar net savings each month.
Additionally, we add the partition “vacation” whenever we are going to take one, and plug in the maximum dollar value we would like to spend in the timeframe of that vacation. Every purchase, whether it be a new toothbrush, a pillow, a bathrobe, or 6 meals out is considered a vacation expense during the allotted vacation days. (We save up for vacations, usually starting at least 6 months in advance, and tend to buy prepackaged deals if we are playing the tourist part or plan on family time and plenty of eating out if we are visiting relatives).
The Bottom Line
Your life changes from month-to-month. By intentionally adjusting your budget to effectively manage those changes, your budget does a better job of helping you manage your life.
What expenses catch you by surprise, and what do you do to adjust your budget?
I spend most of my spare time playing with spreadsheets, my violin, or planting vegetables in my garden in hopes of bringing new insights into frugal living. Please enjoy, and don't forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter here.
Disclaimer - Mrs. FB is not a financial advisor. Nothing in these articles should be construed as investment or other professional advice, but rather personal opinion. Some links in these posts may be to affiliate sites - no products are advertised through this site that have not been personally used by the FB family unless expressly labeled.