Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What To Do When It's Not In Your Budget

Tip #41 - What To Do When It's Not In Your Budget. Sometimes when we're trying to save money, we feel like failures when something goes wrong in our plan. The car needs to get fixed. There's an emergency room visit at 3 AM. You fall ill and you order take-out for your family for a few days. Then there's that extra holiday gift you need to buy for the piano teacher. And the money your daughter's scouting troop is collecting for a family in need. And none of these things were in your budget and you start to feel like you are failing.

Take it in stride and do what you can! When these things come up, remember that we are not perfect and we cannot do it all. No budget can perfectly predict what life will send our way. And while you have a line in your budget for miscellaneous, who really knows how much a given month's expenses will be?

But remember, we all have these extra expenses that we didn't plan for - whether we have a budget or not. And those of us with a budget will be able to handle these extras a lot better than those without one. And while you may not have planned for the $200 emergency room visit, you know that you have $100 per month of miscellaneous money in your budget that can go toward it. And you know that you can cut down your food budget for next month by $30 and your entertainment budget by $35 over the next two months to pay for it. Those without a budget do not have any clue where this money is coming from.

So when you have those weeks where someone is asking for money everytime you turn around, take it in stride. Over time you will get a better idea of these unexpected expenses that come up - the gift for the mailman that you forgot to budget for, the extra cost of food when you are busy with activities, and the costly weekend visits at the doctor's that inevitably come up ever few months.

Remember also that it works the other way, too sometimes. Your husband gets that unexpected bonus at work. You receive a generous present from your parents for your special birthday. You get a monetary gift from your neighbors for watching their dog. And while it doesn't always all work out in the end, it works out much better when you have a budget.

In Real Life (IRL) - We've had a crazy month. Several things came up that were not in our budget. We had a couple of extra doctor's visits and a few expensive prescriptions we needed to get. We gave a little bit more toward charity this month than we usually do. I also forgot to budget in holiday parties that I do in my children's schools. Ten dollars here and $20 there. We had a colder than normal fall and our gas bill was awfully high. And we signed our daughter up for Kids In Action program where she will help the needy once a month with her religious school. It wasn't in our budget but we thought she would benefit from it. And the big doozy - a $2000 air conditioning unit that was. not. in. the. budget. Yikes.

On the other hand, gas prices have come down which has helped. And my husband got a small bonus at work that he wasn't expecting. And we've decided to sell a few extra things in our house that will bring in some extra funds.

So while we haven't budgeted for all of these things, we have a good handle on how much money we have available and where we can cut back in other places to pay for these extra expenses. And for next year's budget that I will be working on very soon, I will have to remember that a lot of expenses tend to come up at the end of the year. And I will hopefully be able to increase our miscellaneous line on our budget. All in all I still feel good about how we handled our expenses this year. And I hope we can better estimate our expenses next year

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