Your monthly budget for things like food, utilities or other variable expenses is more often a guideline than a calculation. If you’re frequently exceeding those budgets, don’t keep lying to yourself and adjusting to fit the narrative. Adjust your budget instead.
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As personal finance blog Enemy of Debt explains, it can get pretty easy to lie to yourself about your budget. You say you’ll only eat out twice a month, but you end up doing it four or five times. If it happens once, that’s a slip up. If it happens every single month, then it’s not a mistake. Your budget for eating out is five times a month. Instead of “fixing” your budget every month, just change your budget by cutting expenses elsewhere:
Just because you have a budget doesn’t mean you’re being real about your spending. At one point I had $100 a week budgeted for groceries, and we exceeded it almost every week. We just weren’t being truthful about how much we could reduce our grocery spending. This resulted in having to make frequent budget adjustments to make up for the grocery overages. Eventually we raised our grocery budget to an amount that was more reasonable, and found another item we were able to cut to make our budget whole.
Your budget is supposed to reflect your actual spending, not be an ideal you’d like to wish into existence. Yes, it would be great if your grocery budget was lower, but if it’s not then pretending it is will only make you avoid saving money in other areas. Be honest with your budget and, if you’re exceeding certain categories every month, that may be a sign that you need to change it.