A budget is a living thing. Although many of us would like it to be “set it and forget it,” it is important to periodically revise your budget. Life throws us curveballs all the time. Revisiting the budget will help you to maintain a budget that is responsive to your ever-changing situation. Here are a few tips to help you keep your budget current and working for you:
Check Your Income
For many of us, our incomes can change throughout the year. Maybe you’re lucky and got a raise. Or maybe you’ve gained or lost access to overtime. You may have a seasonal gig or have come into another income source. It is important for a balanced budget to know what you’re working with each month. This is why it’s important to have accurate income for your budget. Tip: if your income fluctuates, only include the minimum that you are guaranteed to bring home. This will help prevent you from budgeting money that you don’t have.
Check Your Expenses
Just as your income may change over time, your expenses may change too. Has there been an increase or decrease in your utility bills? What about groceries and gas? With inflation, it may be possible that your overall spending has increased in certain areas, even if your buying habits haven’t changed. It’s important to account for these increased expenses. Tip: You can track your expenses using receipts or an app to see if your spending has changed.
If It Doesn’t Balance
It’s possible, especially if your budget was tight before, that with adjustments the budget may not balance anymore. If that’s the case (you have more going out than coming in) then you have two options. You can increase income, or you can decrease your expenses.
Increasing income: Consider a side job to supplement your income. Popular side gigs include ride sharing or food delivery and childcare/elder care. You may also consider applying for benefits such as SNAP (food stamps) if your income has decreased.
Decreasing expenses: Food is often an area where costs can be cut. Consider shopping with coupons at discount stores and buying in bulk. Meal planning and shopping with a list can also help cut down on impulse purchases and food waste. Reduce or eliminate dining out and prepare food at home to help reduce expenses even further.
These tips can help keep your monthly budget up-to-date and working for you. As always, the goal of a budget is to decrease stress and put you in control of your money. By changing the budget as necessary, it will work most effectively for you.