Chris Cookley

Do budget category amounts change each month?

When we talk about budgeting, often times we’ll say something like “I put $600 in groceries each month.” We say this as though the amount we put in each category each month is fixed. That is to say, it doesn’t change. If you treat your budget this way, allocating the same amount of money to each category each month, you might need to change that.

The reality is that a budget is fluid, no two months are exactly the same. In my house, we have what’s called a budget meeting on the last day of the month where we set the budget for the next month. This is where we decide how much we want to allocate to each category.

“But Chris! That’s so much work!” Not really. We do have fixed amounts for each category, but they’re starting points. From there we adjust each category, taking money from one and moving it to another, as needed. Is there a birthday we need to buy gifts for? Maybe a shopping category needs to be bumped up a bit. In that case, where can we take that money from? Can we spend a little less on restaurants to cover that? Or clothes?

It’s a balancing act, and it may take a little getting used to. Our budget meetings used to take about an hour, but now we’re done in under fifteen minutes.

The bottom line is that each month is different, and your budget needs to adapt. It’s not hard to do, you just need to be intentional about it.

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