This month was going to be different, you were determined for ONCE to stay on budget. And then you got a flat tire. And your jeans got a hole. And you forgot your Amazon Prime subscription was renewing this month. What do you do? Do you throw up your hands and give up?
There’s a better way. What if I told you that you could adjust your budget throughout the month?
But budgets are supposed to be these rigid confines that you need to fit inside and once they break it’s over!
Believe it or not, budgets are supposed to help you, not guilt-trip you and make you feel defeated. So let’s adjust it for your current needs.
In the post Budgeting for Beginners with YNAB I talked about setting up YNAB (youneedabudget.com) to track your money and their rules to help you budget:
Rule 1: Give every dollar a job
Rule 2: Embrace your true expenses
Rule 3: Roll with the punches
Rule 4: Age your money
In that post, I talked about Rules 1, 2 and 4. Now let’s talk about Rule 3: Roll with the punches.
Have you noticed that life can be a little unpredictable at times? Maybe just a little? We learn in life that we need to be flexible with our time, why can’t we also be flexible with our money?
Just because you’ve allocated money to all your different categories, doesn’t mean they can’t be changed.
It’s a happy medium between having a rigid plan and having no plan at all. After all, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Rather than throwing your budget out the window as soon as you overspend a category, let’s adjust as you go.
I don’t suggest taking away money that’s needed for bills, but maybe you can spend less on groceries for the rest of the month and use the excess for some of the unexpected expenses. Or maybe you can shuffle around money from categories that aren’t needed this month- likes gifts or vacation. Or from some of your fun money categories- like dining out and entertainment.
If you find that you’re consistently overspending in a category, then up the amount you’re allocating each month. We’re working with real life here, not ideals. You can work on whittling that number back down if you think you’re spending too much there.
I found myself stressing every month because we always overspent our grocery budget. Once in a blue moon, I’d actually be under, so I knew it was possible, but it was definitely the exception, not the rule.
I knew people who were able to spend even less than my budgeted amount, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it happen. I finally had to come to terms that it just wasn’t going to happen for us right now. My husband and I both eat different diets- him a renal diet, and me, whole food plant based. And we had too many other demands that were taking priority.
I’m all about simplification and automation. Right now, I haven’t been able to come up with a system that saves us money, is simple and doesn’t take more time. Someday it might become a higher priority and I’ll get our grocery budget back down to where I’d like it, but for now, I’m doing the best I can and I’m happy with that.
Budgets aren’t supposed to be these rigid things that dictate our lives, they’re supposed to work for us to help us achieve our goals. We have to learn to be flexible and roll with the punches, why shouldn’t our budget do the same?
This month, practice rolling with the punches. When unexpected expenses come up or you overspend somewhere, just shuffle things around and keep going. Let your budget work for you!