Adjusting Your Budget

By Lauren Sharkey

What’s happening, Seawolves?  I don’t know about you, but it feels like I blinked and suddenly it was October!  Man, this semester is just flying by.  At any rate, the beginning of the month is actually the perfect time to revisit last month’s budget.

Life is always changing – you get a new job, drop classes, your car breaks down.  Whether good or bad, there always seems to be something going on.  Any seen or unforeseen situation, such as needing your car inspected or your rent increasing, can have serious effects on your financial situation.  So, you should be prepared to adjust your budget as your monetary situation changes.

While reevaluating your budget may seem like a daunting task, especially after the time and energy you’ve put into your original financial plan, the more you examine your budget, the better you will be able to see where you need to make adjustments.

Take a look at the following steps to see how you can determine where you need to alter your spending in order to save more cash:

Step One:  Revisit your income. 

Your whole budget depends on your monthly income.  Therefore, this should be the first place you look before you move onto any of your categories.  Changes in income (a raise, less scheduled hours, etc.) can make a drastic impact on your budget.  So, before you begin tweaking your budget, be sure to determine if your monthly income has changed.

Step Two:  Over and Under.

Once you’ve revisited your monthly income and gotten a sense of how much you’ll have to dedicate to this month’s expenses, take a look at last month’s stats and see how much you’ve been spending.

If there is an area where you’re not spending the entirety of your budget, see if you can put the surplus money towards your long-term savings goals.  You can also use your extra cash to make larger payments on existing credit cards.  This can help you pay down your debt in a shorter period of time.

If you find there is one particular area where you’ve over your budget, look back to your receipts and see why you may have been over.  Either that or go to step 3:

Step Three:  Cut Expenses.

No one likes to hear they have to cut back on anything – especially when it comes to spending.  However, once you get into the habit of reviewing your monthly budget, you may find there are certain areas where your budget needs to be adjusted.  One of the major categories that requires constant tweaking is groceries.  The ever changing price of fruits and vegetables often contributes to an inability to accurately determine what your food shopping budget should be.

Luckily, there are changes you can make:

  • Collaboration:  Whether it’s your friend or your roommate, talking to each other can really help to make your trip to the supermarket a lot easier.  Working together to come up with one, cohesive grocery list can save time, money, and a whole lot of headaches.
  • Buying in bulk:  Buying in large quantities is a great way to save money.  Essentials like toilet paper and toothpaste are easy to store and never expire.
  • Cut back on the luxuries:  While we all think that a grande caramel macchiato is an essential start to the morning, the fact of the matter is that it’s $4 you could be saving by making a cup of coffee at home.  Going out to lunch or the movies is nice but try not to make it a regular thing.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when making your budget for the month.  Remember, being aware of where your money is going and how much you have to spend (after you’ve put some into your savings) will allow you to make more informed financial decisions!

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