When Should You Adjust Your Budget?

Published on: Oct 31, 2019fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
When Is It Time to Adjust Your Budget?theSkimm

The Story

Sometimes what used to work for you just doesn’t anymore. Think: Juicy sweatsuits, cheap liquor...and maybe your budget.

I thought budgeting was supposed to be my forever friend.

It is. But like any good relationship, it takes some effort to keep the love alive. That’s why it’s a good idea to schedule monthly date nights with your finances. Review your income, priorities and goals, and the progress you’ve made since last month. See what stands out.

Related: Picking Savings Goals You’ll Be Motivated to Hit

Give me a hint about the types of things I’m looking for here.

Anything not normal. Could be an ‘oh sh*t’ moment that hit hard, like a blown transmission or ACL surgery for your goldendoodle. In a perfect world, you’d have an emergency fund to bail you out. If so, dip into those reserves. Then look for places in your budget to cut back over the next couple months so you can start to replenish your savings again.

If you don’t have savings, plan B could look like swiping a credit card with a low interest rate. (PS: some even offer 0% interest for a few months as a promo.) Once you’re back on your feet, make paying off that debt a priority.

What if I get a good surprise?

That happens. Maybe it’s a bonus, birthday check, or tax refund. Pop the champagne...then figure out how you want to use that surplus. You could buy something shiny, but funneling more toward your goals can help you reach them faster.

I like the sound of that. Anything else to look out for?

Bigger patterns. Like if you consistently spend more than you earn and have to borrow from your savings account. Or if the amount of debt you owe is going up instead of down. Or if you hardly have any disposable income leftover to spend after paying bills.

On the flip side, positive life changes – like getting a raise, paying off your student loans or credit card debt, and moving in with your partner – are also  good reasons to rethink your budget. Same goes for a shift in priorities. Like if you’ve got babies on the brain, want to start saving for a new home, or are planning a wedding.

Related: How to Get Your Bank Account Ready to Buy a Home

What then?

Reset. If tweaking a few numbers isn’t doesn’t it, consider a brand new budgeting style. Psst...we have a quiz to help you out with that.


When it comes to a spending plan, setting it and forgetting it doesn’t always work. Check in regularly to see whether or not it’s still working for you. Then keep Tan France-ing your budget until you hit your financial sweet spot.