Spring clean your budget

20100402-wedding-budget-600x411Spring cleaning isn’t just limited to cleaning out drawers and washing the windows. It’s a great time to attack your budget with the same vigor!

Measure success

Take a moment to reflect on your spending and saving habits over the last few months. Is everything in line with where you’d hoped you’d be at this point in time? Are there areas that you are consistently missing the mark on?

Status quo?

Is anything different?  Are there any changes to your income, or major changes on the expense side? Did  you incur any unexpected expenses over the winter? Did your furnace break down? Did you have to repair your car or something else in your home for example?

Get to the source

Nail down why it is that you are falling short. Have you been too stringent in allocating your spending? Did you allocate for emergency spending?

Have you given into impulse buys on more than one occasion?

It’s all about the details

Perhaps the problem is even that you were not detailed enough in your line items.  It’s possible that you completely overlooked an expense simply by not breaking it down enough.

As a rule, the more detailed the better.

Reality Check

Speaking of reality, how realistic were your targets? Do they match your lifestyle?  For instance, if catching up with girlfriends over dinner a couple times a month is an integral part of your life (and happiness), account for it- but don’t cut it out (especially if you know it will be very hard to do). If you can afford it, it’s not all about austerity measures- it’s about tracking and understanding.

Rethink goals

Do you have an expressed goal? What kind of progress are you making? If you’re not where you want to be, you can do one of two things: change your budget, or change your goal.

There is a chance that your budget is just fine based on your income and lifestyle. Maybe the goal you’ve set for yourself is too lofty.