Set out to make a budget, and you’ll quickly discover that there’s no such thing as a perfect month. Instead, there are usually unplanned expenses galore — at least at first.
Your kid comes home and needs $20 for a field trip, or your car starts making a funny noise. Then next month, the cat exhibits mysterious symptoms and requires a trip to the vet. The month after that, there’s a series of shower and wedding gifts.
In short, there’s always something
Every month, it feels like the “extra” money that you “should” have had leftover just disappears. Or worse, you find yourself borrowing money and getting deeper in the hole because you didn’t have much extra to begin with.
That’s often the point where people throw up their hands and give up.
But if you keep at it, you’ll find that budgeting using a spending plan starts to smooth out all those unexpected bumps.
Especially if you don’t aim for perfection — because it’s never gonna happen.
If you have “one of those months”, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you suck at budgeting. It also doesn’t mean that you should write it off as something abnormal, and figure that you’ll just try again the following month.
Less than perfect months ARE normal
So take them as an opportunity to learn, and adjust for future months. For example, if you’re caught without funds for a car repair, make a note to start a car repair fund — and then do it, even if it means you need to make some extra money somewhere or cut back in other areas. If you figure out that you typically spend $300 on birthday gifts through the course of the year, build that into your budget as well by starting a gift fund that you put 25 bucks a month into.
Organize your spending plan so that the things that are most important to you get funded first. Things like shelter, food, basic transportation should top the list. Prioritize, and when you do have extra money, save some of it to smooth out those less-than-perfect months.
Give yourself some wiggle room
Budgets should have some wiggle room in them anyway. They shouldn’t confine and restrict you.
Instead, they should help you do the things you want to do — whether that involves getting your finances under control for the first time ever, or saving up to buy the latest expensive gadget as a treat.Posted in Budgeting on 10.03.12 with 8 comments.