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Before each new month begins, you set up a fresh budget. A plan for the month ahead. (You do, right? If you don’t yet, read this now!) We have some July budget reminders to keep you focused and intentional this summer!
But did you know that along with setting up the new budget for the month ahead, you also need to check over and finalize your numbers at the end of the month, too?
Think of your personal finances like a business. Businesses do month-end to make sure everything is paid and on track in the budget – same-same for your home budget!
Once I make the last payment, buy the last grocery, deposit the last cheque, I spend some time in EveryDollar to see where I’m over budget (and where I’m under!) to make sure all my dollars are where they need to be.
I also do a check to make sure that I have tracked everything. Sometimes I miss a day or a purchase. At the end of the month if I wind up with $200 left over in my grocery budget, I know I probably missed logging a Costco shop somewhere along the way.
A quick double check helps make sure you’ve accounted for everything you have spent.
There are probably a few areas that you are building savings in, beyond your emergency fund. I have sinking funds set up for pet care, car maintenance, and renovations, to name a few.
These little pockets of savings help me to prepare for the future. But if I leave the money in my everyday account, I’m sure to lose it along the way. So, I move it over into a separate account. Not my emergency fund account, but another account that I can let these little savings funds build up.
At the end of the month, if I haven’t spent the full $150 that I budgeted for my pets, I move the remaining amount into that savings account. This way, when the yearly vet visit rolls around (or, god forbid, something awful happens and I get smacked with a huge vet bill unexpectedly), I’ll have money to cover it.
At the end of the month, make sure you move any of those sinking fund dollars to where they need to go!
Month-end is the time to really see if you balanced the budget or not! If I went over in one category, say groceries landed $15 high, I adjust my ‘planned’ amount to reflect what I actually spent. Hopefully, you came in UNDER in another category, so it all evens out.
I used to think that a budget was a plan at the beginning of the month, and if ‘blew it’ in any one area, well that was that and I’d try again next month. But the truth is, the ‘plan’ is always shifting and changing. It allows me to be flexible in my life and make decision along the way. If I would rather eat out on Father’s Day than have to cook and clean for the fam, I can choose to move money from, say, Clothes, or Miscellaneous, or Groceries over to Restaurants. Now I just spend less in those areas, and I’ve got the cash to pay for an awesome lunch!
Last month our restaurant spending was atrocious. Honestly, I’m ashamed of how much money we spent. When I entered everything into EveryDollar, it shows me how much over I am, and the number turns red – like a shameful red X on a Math quiz, reminding me that we did something wrong. When I made the adjustments at the end of the month, I adjusted our planned amount to match what we had spent, to get rid of the big red blemish on my list! Next, I had to adjust my plan for how much I’d be putting into our emergency fund – by reducing that amount we were able to cover the restaurant overages.
Of course, that means that I didn’t put as much into my savings as I had hoped, BUT it did open my eyes and give me the butt-kicking I needed to get back on track and focused!
**Edited June 2020** We did not spend money in restaurants last month. And, in reflection, I would recommend putting your Emergency Fund money aside first so that you don’t accidentally spend it, as we did last year. However, I absolutely know that we all have months that kick our butts and we all make choices that don’t align with our goals. The whole point is just to reflect on your budget at the end of the month so you stay motivated and moving in the right direction!!*
I find that when I’m really focusing and gazelle-intense on my financial goals, I come in below budget in many categories. I make a lot of month end-plan adjustments so that my spending matches my plan exactly. This way, I know how much money I have leftover to tuck into my savings account (or that you can put onto your debts if that’s your focus)!
The point is, in order to stay on track and know where you need to adjust your plan for the next month, it’s necessary to LOOK at your budget and your spending and get everything aligned and balanced.
July Budget Reminders
Now for the July reminders – some things you may want to add to your budget this month!
Yes, summer is finally here! If you have travel plans or stay-cation goals, make sure you keep budgeting for them until they are fully covered! You don’t want to come up short on the gas budget for your yearly road trip and wind up eating nothing but ramen for the rest of the month!
Canada Day (or Fourth of July, for our friends South of the Border!)
We celebrate Canada Day by going to our local parade and often have people over for a barbeque afterward. Sometimes this leads into an adventure downtown. We listen to a band play on the riverfront. Take in the fireworks show once the sun sets. Indulge in food trucks and local vendors! The cost of this exciting day can add up quickly. Make sure you figure out what your plans are and build them into your budget!
I like simplicity in my budgeting. I don’t differentiate between food, toiletries, cleaning supplies – basically, anything I buy at Walmart lands on the ‘grocery’ line of my budget.
But. Sunscreen isn’t cheap, and we go through it like water with full days outside in the yard, at the park, or hiking in the mountains. Think about adding a few extra dollars to your budget, wherever it makes the most sense for you!
It’s way easier to spend money when the sun is shining, and our schedules are wide-open for sunshine adventuring. Ice-cream outings, backyard barbeques, park picnics… sigh…my heart is happy just thinking about it! I’m all for you enjoying the good-times that summer brings. Just get intentional and budget for it!
Back to School
I’m a teacher, and it is the beginning of June as I type this. I’m still in the full quick-sand style slog to the end of the school year. Thinking about back-to-school makes my heart hurt. But it’s going to come, whether I like it or not, so we may as well get prepared for it, right?
School supplies, new clothes, indoor shoes – think of all the things your kids (or you!) might need and set a budget that you can start saving for now. By splitting the saving up across a few months, it’ll be pain-free shopping when the time comes!
Use these July budget reminders to get intentional as we head into the summer! And while I know that summer 2020 looks different than 2019, when this post was originally written, you can still make some progress on your goals and stick to a budget, while you are practicing social distancing and rocking your masks!
Don’t forget to Pin this for later, so you can remember how to finish up each month with the same awesome intentionality you started it with!