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How to Fix Your Budget

by Diane

Do you need to fix your budget?

Even the best designed budget can either fall short of your needs or just be inappropriate for your current situation. One of the smartest money moves you can make is to review and update your budget regularly.

Review Your Budget

Budgets, like most things in life are not set and forget. Make sure you review your’s regularly – at least every three months.

You’ll need to check the specifics of your budget to make sure it still works:

  • Track your day to day spending
  • Check your regular and irregular bills
  • Review income and tax amounts.

How did you go?

Did you find, like me, that you need to fix your budget in a few areas?

For example, areas where you consistently spend over your allotted amount? Consider this, is the overspending avoidable or do you need to update your budget to reflect these increased costs?

The increasing cost of living can add pressure to your spending allocation. If it’s an area you can’t change much, like the cost of commuting to your job, you’ll need to update your budget and potentially make cuts in other areas to compensate.

Are there new bills you need to include in your budget?

A child starting school or even a new cell phone plan can seriously impact your budget. Updating these areas of spending are an important step toward fixing your budget.

Has your income increased or decreased recently?

Changes to your income can creep in via reduced hours (or increased hours), a pay rise or changes to your personal tax rate. Make sure these changes are included in your budget.

How to Fix Your Budget

When I undertook a review of my own budget, I discovered a spending danger zone: ‘Food’.

Over the preceding months the numbers showed I constantly struggled to keep to the budgeted amount for groceries.

So, the question I had to ask myself was this: Do I struggle with my food budget because it is too tight or because I have no control when it comes to supermarkets?

After some serious reflection, I was confident in saying it’s the latter – no control. My food budget is $100 per week for two adults and three feline fur babies. That ought to be ample.

Here’s what I did to fix the major problem in my budget

Here are some of the ways I used to get back on track. They might prove useful for you, too.

Re-evaluate needs and wants

A healthy breakfast is a need (oatmeal); packaged cereal (Cheerios) is a want.

Learn to tell yourself “no”

Just because you can (buy that chocolate bar) doesn’t mean you should. Consider imposing your own spending freeze to help you break bad habits that have crept into your daily routine. You can learn more about challenging yourself with a spending freeze here.

Stop making excuses

The best way to stop the excuses is to actively take responsibility. That means making considered choices every single time you open your purse or wallet.

Small Spending Changes Can Make a Big Difference

It’s easy to think that a bottle of soda or a bag of potato chips or block of chocolate here and there won’t make a huge difference to the total spend because they’re just a couple of dollars, right?

Wrong!

Soon, these wants become needs and choices become habits.

Before you know it, this junk food is in your trolley without you making a conscious decision to put it there. And, we’d been doing that quite a bit.

Life gets busy and/or stressful and you fall back on old habits. Habits work because your brain doesn’t have to think, it can just slide into auto-mode.

To break bad spending habits and instead, focus on needs not wants, I’ve employed a few tricks:

Meal planning

For me, meal planning needs to be an active process rather than a passive list or ‘menu’. I also need to factor the preparation of each meal into my day otherwise, I know I’ll fall back on those old habits of convenience.

Shopping with a list (and only buying what’s on it)

No more ‘hunter gatherer’ style shopping for me! By being smart about what I buy and cooking the majority of our meals from scratch, I’ve been able to reduce our grocery spend by over 50%.

Using the cash envelope system for my food budget

This is not just to restrict spending but also for the visual reminder of the amount of money available. Plus, the cash envelope system makes your money tangible.

Handing over cash feels different to handing over a plastic card.

And, most importantly, staying away from temptation – the supermarket!

Dropping into the grocery store on a daily basis is a guaranteed way to over-spend on your grocery budget.

What’s your budget kryptonite?

I reckon it’s safe to say everyone has an area of their budget that they consistently over-spend. It might be that you under-estimate your utility bills or school costs, or maybe you’ve got a magazine addiction.

You won’t really know until you sit down with the facts (tracked spending for at least a couple of weeks) and your budget categories.

Don’t wait for the right time, get started now.

Do you regularly review your budget? How often?


Build a Life you Love

The absolute driving force behind my online endeavours is to establish and maintain a life I love. A life that allows me to spend my days the way I want to spend them.

After a short stint back in the corporate world, I’m more committed than ever to spend my days doing things that bring me joy and add real value to others’ lives.

Blogging – Learn how to start your own blog or business web site. Once you get started, there’s almost no limit to what you can achieve for yourself. But, the first step is establishing your foundation and that has to be a self-hosted site. If you’re just testing the waters, I recommend Bluehost as a cost-effective way to get started.

Online Store / eCommerce – Along with this and some of my other blogs, I have another business that includes an Etsy store and a Shopify store. Whether you’re selling stock you’ve purchased, dropshipping or selling your own handmade products, eCommerce is a great way to start an online business in your spare time. Shopify is a great platform to use as it’s intuitive and has lots of help available if you get stuck, and they have a ton of plugins to make it easy to get all of the features you want.

Managing your Money – The framework for everything in life and business is good money management. Keep coming back to our site for more helpful tips, but if you are doing some shopping and want cash back, check out Rakuten (formerly eBates).


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2 comments

Michelle January 12, 2015 - 7:28 am

We recently started meal planning and it’s something I highly recommend to anyone who is having problems with their food spending. We’ve already noticed a huge difference!

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dianeadam@bigpond.com January 12, 2015 - 8:03 pm

It’s got to take the “what’s for dinner?” question out of the daily stressors, too. I guess the proof will be in the pudding!

Thank you for visiting.

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