Monday, February 2, 2009

It is time to tweak our budget.

I was reviewing our budget over the weekend. I have some tweaking to do as some categories have changed recently. A couple categories will no longer be used and our spending in another category has changed dramatically. I use Quicken for our personal finances, but I have created an extensive excel spreadsheet to help me split out my checking account balance by my budget categories. I have about 18 categories and each one is a tab on my spreadsheet. Each tab is a running total of its category and the tabs add up to a total page. The total page must always match my total balance in Quicken. My dh thinks I am crazy, but I have done this for years and it helps me keep control of our checking account and our budget. Quite frankly I was never able to really keep a budget until I split my checking account out this way.

The two categories that are going away are Toby and our van warranty. Toby, our beloved dog who passed away unexpectedly on New Years Day, had his own category for his food and visits to the vet and kennel. Our van warranty was purchased when we bought our van in July 2007. We were allowed to pay it over the course of 18 months without any interest or additional fees and the last payment is in March. With these two categories going away I am now left with some additional money a month to put towards other things. While I would much rather have our dog, this is a good thing.

I also wanted to adjust the amount of money I have been setting aside for fuel for our cars. I increased the amount over the summer when gas hit $4.00, but I never went back and adjusted the amount now that gas is back down to under $2.00. I built up quite a cushion, but I have used some of that money for other unforeseen bills. I am going to reduce my gas budget for now and leave a cushion for when gas goes back up. I do believe it is not a matter of IF gas will go back up but WHEN, probably sometime in the spring or summer. I will keep an eye on it and adjust this again when the time comes.

So now with some extra money in our budget I need to decide where to put it. I will look back on our 2009 financial goals and take those into consideration. The money that was going towards our van warranty will now go towards our van loan to help accelerate that. I haven't made any other decisions, I will discuss with dh this weekend when we have our family balance sheet meeting.

How often do you review and change your budget? How many categories are in your budget?

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