Single moms often get frustrated living within a budget. This may cause them to just decide it doesn’t work and quit following it completely. If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re missing a very important aspect of the whole budget process of financial planning: the ability to change your budget and make it work for you.
A budget isn’t written in stone. There is no one-size-fits-all budget, either. If you find you can’t make the budget work because it’s so inflexible, change it. Budgeting is meant to help you manage your finances, not hinder you. The budget is supposed to work for you. You are not supposed to be working for the budget.
Expenses can change every month, and you have to have enough flexibility in the budget to reflect that. Some months have a lot of birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays that can cost extra money. The price of gas can go up or down rather dramatically, and there is always the possibility of the appliance that needs to be repaired or replaced.
Think of your budget as a tool for organizing your finances, not a fence around your life. Continuously update the information in your budget as circumstances change so that it can help you plan between pay periods. The more information that you add to your budgeting plan, the better the chance you have in finding an affordable path to your goals. If you find you have to raise the kid’s allowance, put it in the budget. If the price of gas goes up, add that as well.
Keep an eye on the bottom line, making sure that the expenses total doesn’t exceed the income total. If it starts getting too close, make some adjustments where you can, shaving off some money that you pay out wherever it is possible.
Some areas of your budget can’t be adjusted. The mortgage, rent and insurance payments must be made in full every month. But take the time to see where you can reduce other expenses. Can you lower what you pay on gas by driving less? How about daycare? Do you pay for cable? Can you make due with a smaller package?
Do bank fees show up on your budgeting plan? Start tracking the fees you pay each time you make a transaction. Don’t include them in the food, gas or other categories of the budget. Do you use the closest ATM machine and pay fees instead of driving to a machine that is affiliated with your financial institution? How often do you pay these fees?
The quality of information that goes into the budget spreadsheet directly affects the quality of information that the budget gives you in return. Keep track of every dime you spend so that the information can go into the budget and help you get from payday to payday.
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