When you get down to it, budgets are actually very simple. In order to save more, you must spend less. The concept seems so simple, but when you get down to it, it is often a difficult concept to perform in practice. LD and I realized a slight flaw to our budget just last week. Although we budget for buying clothes each month, we tend to buy clothes at the same time on sales. The issue with this plan? If we don’t spend the money each month on clothes, they go to loans.
So, when I decided I really needed to supplement my work wardrobe, I had about a third of the money I needed for the clothing purchase. In cases like this, we cut back on the other variable monthly expenses so our total variable purchases come out to the same place, but we now have about $75 to get us to the end of the month. I know that about $30 of that will be food. We will go on a spending freeze for all other things for the next two weeks.
Your budget doesn’t have to be perfect, but this is precisely the reason that you should constantly be analyzing where your budget is working and where it is not. Don’t just track your expenses, ANALYZE them. What worked and what didn’t? Do you always go over on gas by $30? Adjust your budget to reflect this. Do you always have $20 extra left over for clothes? Adjust your budget. Do your buying habits match your budget? No? Change either how you do your budget or your buying habits. For example, we will probably now put less away for clothes because we don’t actually spend $50 a month on clothes (or $600 a year) but because we buy in chunks, we will set aside the new amount monthly in our bank account. Constantly adjusting is what will get your budget to reflect your lifestyle now or show you where your habits are conflicting with your budget. The better the budget matches, the less you feel like you are living paycheck to paycheck.