Money Matters: Give Your Budget A Little Wiggle Room

You know what my biggest budgeting problem is? Sticking…. to it.  I know I’ve  mentioned this before, but keeping to the terms and agreement of a budget is hard.  Not because money burns a hole in pocket every time I get it or I’m out trying to sabotage myself.  But, because… sh*t happens.  Life happens.  And no matter how much better I think I’m getting at preparing for life’s surprises, it likes to throw me a curve ball every so often.

I’m a fan of the game, but damn! Life, could you let me sit on the bench and watcg few times?  No.  That’s not what life’s about.  She whispers to me.   Anywhoo…

I budget bust.  Meaning, I find it hard to stick to a budget because I don’t factor in life happening.  Like, how? Something as simple as a cold or flu can bust my budget.  Stay with me here: I feel the signs that I’m coming down with something.  I try to head it off at the past by drinking tea or more fluids, covering myself up with vapor rub at night, wearing socks to bed.  Little things that should go a long way.  But sadly, they fail.  I’m sick.  And now I’m sick of being sick.

So I stroll into CVS and go down my trusted but questionable cold and flu aisle.  I grab some cough drops, cough syrup, allergy medicine, a saline rinse and something marked “may cause drowiness”.  Not overkill.  I’ve learned that there is no on medicine that works as a cure-all for me.  I need to make a concoction of these poor excuses of FDA medicines to feel a bit of relief.

With my legal experiment in hand, I make my way to the register to pay for my new found treasures.  Only to learn as I swipe my card, I just dropped over $40. On a problem that may last for one to two weeks.  Seriously?!?

So, now in the middle of summer I’ve just busted my budget because I got sick.  It sucks.

However, if I had given myself a contignecy… a little wiggle room, that $40 wouldn’t have been so detrimental to my accounting ego (or lack there of).  I would’ve considered my cold drugs an unexpected but covered in the budget expenses. 

How much should a contingency be?  That depends on you.  I like to place $115 as a safety net.  Odd number?  No, not really. I took the average of past over expenditures and decided that was a healthy number I could live within without busting my budget and still covering a random cold here or there.  What about a medical expense or car repair?  I have dedicated emergency fund for things of those nature.

So it’s possible to budget and stick to it.  Just gotta be real with yourself and give your budget a little wiggle room.  And maybe not get sick in the middle of July.

August 💵 Money Challenge #1

I thought it was time to bring back the topic of money but in a more natural and healthy way. And there’s nothing more natural and healthy than…

A CHALLENGE!!! 💵💵💵💵💵💵💵

Well, at the very least, nothing as rewarding as a challenge can be. And I’m going to join in and do it too.

So to kick this off starting with the first Monday (and every Monday for the month) in August is budgeting. Dun-dun-dun. I hate that word too. I know how to do it, but I don’t always stick to a budget as much as I would like to. And maybe there are a few of you out there who feel the same. So to get things started, here’s what we’re going to do:

List all our expenses, everything we pay out from rent to our Netflix and Hulu subscriptions. List them and tally up the actual amount we’re spending. If we’re ordering out twice a week, include that too. We’ll go log online to our bank account to get an idea what we’vespent on food outside of groceries if we need to. We gonna do this right.

After we’ve written everything we’re spending, we’re write down everything coming in. And if you haven’t guess or figured it out, we’re going to substract what we’re spending from what we’re bringing in. This is going to give us an idea of what kind of “disposal income” we have.

Now, here’s the challenge: write down what you’d like to save in dollar form from what you’re already spending.

For example: if you’re bringing in $3,000 a month (and no, this isn’t before taxes) and you’re spending $2,500 a month, that means your disposal income is $500. But what you really want is to have $750 a month in disposal cash. Okay. That means you gotta cut back on $250 in your expenses this month. And no, I don’t want you to get a side hustle for this challenge. We’ll get to that in the coming months. Right now,we’re going to work with what we have to save that extra $250 or $100 or $50 or even $25 that will give us a little more wiggle room. The only activity for this is cutting back.

What can you do without for this month?