adjusted budget

When Was the Last Time You Adjusted Your Budget?

Holly over at Club Thrifty recently admitted that food is her budget buster. I think a lot of us can relate by the looks of the comments. I know I can!

Ever since we moved, we’ve been a little disappointed to realize that sales are not the same here as they were back home.

adjusted budgetWe see a lot of “buy one get one free,” “buy one get one half off,” and other variants of that. I don’t really gravitate toward these deals, as for the most part, we’re good with one item. I always have to check the fine print to see if you can get the sale with one item, or if you have to buy the specified amount.

There have been one too many times we ended up paying more than the sale price because we didn’t follow the “rules” of the sale.

That’s not my idea of a good time at the grocery store. Trust me, I spend enough time there as it is. I’d much rather see a flat sale price for an item, and decide for myself if I want to get more than one.

In any case, we have to face the inevitable: food here isn’t cheap. The prices are not what they used to be. Even though we moved to a lower cost-of-living-area, there are still trade-offs to be made.

Which brings me to my point – when was the last time you adjusted your budget?

Increasing our grocery budget

Like Holly, we’re planning on increasing our grocery budget, only it likely won’t be temporary. Trying to fit our old grocery budget into the prices we’ve been seeing is simply not possible. We tried really hard to make it fit, but we’re both tired of the stress it’s causing.

Our grocery budget is kind of average to begin with, but since R has two stomachs, I try to maximize it any way I can by scouring for sales. I haven’t said that’s not a sale! so many times in my life.

In the face of reality, we’ll be increasing our grocery budget from $250 to $300, possibly to $320.

I have to note, too, that it seems as though grocery prices are going up all over. Yay, right? Not even just groceries – the article claims all sorts of prices are on the rise, including gas and air fare. Gas prices have been decreasing since we moved here, so that at least makes me happy.

The benefits of adjusting your budget

In light of this, I think it makes sense to re-evaluate your budget from time to time. Things change, and budgets don’t have to be set in stone. That’s one of the great things about them! You can adapt them month to month based on what’s going on in your life.

The key is to not go overboard – remain realistic. You don’t want an increased grocery budget to result in spending more for the sake of spending, you want to continue buying intelligently. In our case, I’m increasing our budget because prices have increased. We’re buying the same amount as before, but our total is higher because of higher prices.

Budgeting can be difficult for some people because they don’t want to feel restrained. Evaluating your budget on a monthly basis should give you more freedom. By looking at what worked, and what didn’t work, you can build your way to a budget that suits you.

For example, if you found yourself going over budget in your restaurant category, ask yourself if you were being realistic with the number in the first place. If you have a family of four, and your restaurant budget is $50, that’s likely to mean dining out once a month. Is this something you think your family can accomplish?

Be honest with yourself as to what caused the over-spending. Should you allow yourself a little more leeway, or do you really need to stop spending?

Mindful spending and my last-ditch efforts

I practiced mindful spending so far this month, and it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference. I think as long as you’re doing that, you should adjust your budget to account for possible changes.

Call me crazy, but last weekend I even went shopping at Kroger while I was visiting my parents (we don’t have any nearby). My mom loves the store, and the few times I’ve been in there with her, I saw decent prices. Everything was so much cheaper!

It’s quite possible prices near us are higher solely because we live near a major city. My parents live in an even lower cost-of-living-area, and I guess their prices reflect that.

I’ve decided to shop near them as a last-ditch effort. My parents have a huge cooler, and we were able to transport everything back fine.

I would never purposely travel out of my way to get better prices; at that point, gas probably eats up the difference. But we’re going to be there every other weekend anyway, so we might as well take advantage of it. July is going to be a weird month as it is, with me being gone for a week and a half. R will be shopping just for himself! We’ll see if that even makes a difference (I’m betting not).

When was the last time you had to adjust your budget? What categories needed tweaking?

Erin M.

Erin is a personal finance writer and virtual assistant who loves talking about money and how to use it as a tool to get what you want out of life. When she's not obsessing over numbers or working (which is rare), she can be found messing around in Photoshop, laughing at her cat, watching YouTube videos, playing video games, chair dancing, or any random combination of the above.

55 thoughts on “When Was the Last Time You Adjusted Your Budget?

  1. As you wrote, you need to be realistic. Once you’ve managed to control your categories and if the cost of the same goods are going up…well the budget needs to shift in consequence.

    I am impatiently waiting for July and the first utility bills to come in so I can figure out what the heck our working budget will be. Since we basically started from scratch and having to buy pretty much everything to outfit the apartment, I decided to not even attempt a budget for June.

    I already see that our transportation allocation will definitely increase thanks to tolls even though we get a resident discount and pay $5.50 instead of $15!
    Kassandra recently posted: The Warning Signs of DebtMy Profile

    1. I don’t miss the tolls! Getting out of Long Island was always horrible due to all the traffic they created.

      We’re still kind of waiting on the water bill as it took 45 days to kick in. I’m sure the one we received last month wasn’t for a whole month. It’s pretty annoying to have to establish a baseline for utilities!

    1. That’s awesome! I think I need to get a bit better at checking in on how things are going. For the most part, I estimate based on what each trip to the store totals to, and how happy I am with how we did!

  2. The unfortunate part is when you need to increase your budget somewhere, you have to decrease it somewhere else, unless you have an income increase. I’m worried about the price of gas (we do a lot more driving in the summer) and the impact it will have on groceries.
    debs recently posted: Father’s Frugal FinancesMy Profile

    1. Thankfully in our case, we’ve been saving a lot more with the move, so we have a bit of wiggle room. I hear you on gas worries, though – driving to my parents house takes a full tank of gas round-trip. We always try and fill up across the border as it’s somehow 40 cents cheaper!

  3. Food is a huge struggle for us too. My hubby has the same problem.. at least two stomachs!! Like you mentioned with the overall rising food prices, I think our food budget will always require careful monitoring. I personally wouldn’t mind cutting out most meat of our diet- however I don’t think my husband would appreciate that at all : ) The things you do for love.
    Liz recently posted: Ten Ways to Get Noticed at WorkMy Profile

    1. Seriously, R ate half a pizza yesterday for lunch. I had ONE slice and I was full! I have no clue how he does it. I don’t like to eat meat constantly – chicken is good enough for me – but I also don’t want to be eating too horribly with loads of carbs. It’s hard to find a balance!

  4. I haven’t even bothered to make a budget in months with all of the changes to my finances that have happened. Between moving in with R and now being laid-off and waiting for EI to come through, I’m just making sure I’m not spending more than I make. That’s about as close to a “budget” as I have.
    Amanda recently posted: June 13thMy Profile

      1. Tracking your spending is definitely better than nothing! I don’t really have a formal/rigid budget in place, I just like to make sure we’re on target with our spending.

    1. It’s better than nothing! For my part of the budget, I’m mostly trying to do the same. Just trying to keep everything as low as possible!

  5. I just saw a headline the other day that mentioned meat prices are at their highest levels in years…maybe at their all-time high. The food budget is definitely one to continually stay on top of. Ours has continued to increase as the kids move into the teen years. Written from someone who is a sucker for the BOGO offers.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted: How Being Flexible Saved Our VacationMy Profile

    1. I’m not looking forward to it! I’ve been wondering why ground meat has been so much more. BOGO offers were not as prevalent at the stores I’m used to shopping at, but it can make sense at times to just stock up. From what I’ve seen, they’re generally decent deals.

  6. My grocery bill for the summer is turning out to be a little higher. As Holly mentioned in her post there are more outings and gatherings and that means higher food bills. I’m trying to be flexible as we all want to enjoy the Summer. But yeah, sometimes adjustments have to be made depending on your situation. I think you’ve been doing great with only spending $300/month. I spend about $500 for 2 people. We eat meat so that’s probably why.
    Raquel@Practical Cents recently posted: Staying Focused While Spending LessMy Profile

    1. We eat meat as well, but I try to buy it only when there’s a sale. I have my limits on what I’ll spend on each type. I think we might really have to cut down if prices are going up drastically, though.

  7. I re-evaluate my budget monthly. It may not change every month, but I do look at it each month. I try to adjust for any planned trips or activities I have on my calendar and possibly what time of year it is or other planned expenses I know about. Adjusting your budget is totally fine as long as you do it logically and you don’t inflate your categories too much that is slows down your debt or savings progress.
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted: Being More OpenMy Profile

    1. Yes, exactly! I think it’s good to re-evaluate based on what’s happening, too. Next month is going to be quite different for us, but I am hoping everything will even out in the end.

    1. I try to even things out on a month-to-month basis, too. I hate seeing the total be more than I anticipated, but if it was for a good reason (such as stocking up), then it could be beneficial for the next month. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I look at my budget constantly, but haven’t adjusted it in a while. I go over in certain categories but save in others, which even each other out. I should just increase the amount on one and decrease it on the other but I just combine them together and as long as I don’t go over both or all categories then I’m okay.
    Aldo recently posted: Spent: Looking For Change (Documentary)My Profile

  9. The one budget item that I continually update is my personal eat out budget. It’s hard for me to put my eat out for lunches budget at zero or $40 or $100. I work in downtown Chicago and I certainly do my best but sometimes I fail. I try again and use a different method to keep it low, but I readjust this guy a lot.

    1. Great job! Hey, the little things add up, and every effort counts (in my opinion). Maybe you could take a look at all the lunch specials going on? When I used to work in an office, everyone always ordered lunch out, but they at least tried to get deals by ordering the specials offered for that day.

    1. Oh how exciting!! Early congratulations =). I’m glad I could remind you – honestly, I hadn’t adjusted our grocery budget at all yet, and I figured now was the best time.

  10. I’m constantly looking at my budget. Everyday in fact! I find myself always tweaking the food and petrol budget because sometimes I’m under budget and other times I go over it. I love that most other payments that leave my account are fixed because it means I don’t have to worry about them as much.

    1. I definitely prefer the fixed payments, too. It’s great you keep on top of your budget like that though! I do tend to slack with tracking my money sometimes, until I total it up at the end of the month.

    1. I hope it goes well! $20 isn’t such a large amount in the grand scheme of things, either, so hopefully it won’t take away from anything else.

  11. Thanks for the mention! I think it makes sense to increase a category that is problematic sometimes. It’s dehumanizing to constantly go over when you’re trying, so why not loosen things up a bit?
    My kids are getting bigger and eating more so it made sense for us to add a little bit of $ to our budget. It sounds like it makes sense for you too.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted: Fun Ways We’re Saving Money This SummerMy Profile

    1. You’re welcome! It can be really discouraging when you keep trying your best, but you just can’t make the numbers work. I think it makes perfect sense for growing families to increase their budget in certain areas!

    1. It definitely makes sense to adjust your budget after paying off debt! Increasing the grocery category in favor of lessening the restaurant category is a great way to go. You can certainly splurge a bit and create nicer meals at home for less than what you’d pay by going out.

  12. Our budget is also evolving, especially for food. That seems to be the biggest challenge for us. When work is particularly busy, we tend to eat out more. There’s also those months with tons of birthdays and special events and so we end up spending more celebrating with friends & family.

    1. Yes, there’s definitely a few months out of the year that are more expensive due to special occasions! It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking “I deserve a break” because you’ve been working hard. We’ve fallen for that a few times! Plus, the last thing you want to do is cook when you get home.

  13. I don’t ACTUALLY have a budget :0 I know, it’s like a personal finance sin. I track our spending each month and make sure it’s in-line with past months, but I don’t set a budget per se. We already do pretty much everything in our power to keep costs down, especially with groceries. I don’t see a huge reason to try to spend less in that area.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted: 4 Big Money Issues For Couples to Settle Before MarriageMy Profile

    1. That’s pretty much where we are at. We’ve done everything possible to lower our fixed expenses, and we try to keep our other expenses low in favor of saving/paying off student loans. So it’s not a huge deal to raise our grocery budget a bit, but I am disappointed!

  14. I went through the same thing when I lived in Charlotte! I felt as though I would save so much money and everything would be cheaper and then found out that really wasn’t the case. I felt like it was a bait and switch scenario. Anywho, we recently had to adjust our budget for the fact that our heating this winter was so HIGH that we had to cut back in other areas. Hubby and I were planning a fun weekend getaway, but that had to be nixed thanks to old man winter. This is the importance of having a budget, though, and knowing that you have to make choices and sacrifices if you plan to keep your goals for the year.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted: Financial Fitness Steps from My KidMy Profile

    1. It was very unexpected, that’s for sure. We’re very close to other expensive cities, so even if we went out of Charlotte, I don’t think it would be any better. I’m glad everything else is cheaper!

      I’m sorry you had to axe the weekend getaway because of the heating :/. Very true though – budgets are important for knowing if you’re on target with your goals.

    1. That’s exactly what happened for us, too. It stinks, but at least we’re increasing our budget for sensible reasons! Thanks for stopping by.

    1. I’m glad we’re not alone – R easily eats for 2 people! We’re lucky that I eat like a bird =). I know, I have been experiencing a lot of sticker shock lately, it’s pretty disappointing when things aren’t in your control.

  15. I’m not much a traditional budgeter, so I rarely adjust mine. I do more of the pay myself first then pay my bills and the rest of the money is free to spend. But it’s just little old me to take care of, which helps. I imagine I’ll tighten up the reins if/when I co-habitat/ have a family.
    Broke Millennial recently posted: Perhaps I Should Move to Germany?My Profile

    1. I really don’t budget in the strictest sense, either. I enjoy tracking everything to make sure I’m not missing any targets, but if I go over by a little in any category it’s not going to kill me. Paying yourself first is important!

  16. Ever since I started working from home, I have been trying to adjust my budget monthly, especially because I am never too sure how much money I will be making.

    1. I really dislike the fact that eating healthier seems to lead to a higher food bill. Prices can be such a deterrent to a healthier lifestyle. Daycare is so expensive! At least it’s only temporary.

  17. Thanks for the great budgeting tips. I like how you are open to increasing your budget, but still being realistic about your spending. Budgeting is difficult, but blogs like yours are really helpful so thanks!

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