While budgets are incredibly helpful for maintaining financial wellness, they’re not something you can simply set and forget. Throughout our lives we may find ourselves in situations that will, for better or worse, influence how much we’re able to spend or save. Because of this, it’s important to be able to identify these moments and adjust our budgets accordingly. So, with that in mind, here are several signs that might mean it’s time to re-evaluate your budget.
1. You’re Using Credit Cards to Cover Emergencies
If you find yourself keeping credit cards “just in case of an emergency,” it might be in your best interest to start building a proper emergency fund. While credit cards are an incredibly handy tool, using them to cover unexpected expenses in lieu of an emergency fund could lead to more harm than good. Not only are you risking your credit score (by spiking your credit utilization), but you’ll also be subjecting yourself to unnecessary, and sometimes exorbitant, interest payments.
Consider altering your budget to allow for extra savings. This money can be put towards your emergency fund and provide you with a nice cushion of cash in the event that you fall on hard times.
2. You’ve Just Started to Make More … or Less
Regardless of whether it was a promotion or demotion, a change in income can have a huge impact on your financial wellbeing. If you find yourself suddenly making a decent amount more or less than what your current budget was built to handle, it might be a good idea to retool your saving and spending strategies. An increase in pay could assist you in accomplishing your financial goals faster, while a decrease might require you to tighten up less pertinent portions of your budget.
3. You’ve Just Gone Through a Major Life Event
If you’ve recently been married, had a child or purchased a home, chances are your finances are going to need an adjustment. Monumental changes in your lifestyle can have a major impact on your expenses and savings prospects, so it might be in your favor to take time to sit down and review your budget.
Now that one major event has passed, it’s probably time to start planning for another. Whether it’s adding a little more money to your retirement fund, opening a 529 College Savings Plan for your child, or simply saving up for a nice vacation, you’re probably going to want to make sure your budget is properly geared towards achieving for your new goals.
4. You’ve Just Come Across Some Unexpected Money
Whether it was through an inheritance or some other type of windfall, coming across a large sum of money unexpectedly can be an exciting thing. That said, it’s important to resist the urge to blow it all on one or several extravagant, unnecessary purchases. If your surprise chunk of cash can help to expedite your savings goals or pay down debt, it’s important to update your day-to-day budget to reflect your new figures. With a savings goal completed or a debt paid, you might find an increase in cash flow that would be best directed towards a new or already existing financial endeavor.
Of course, your budget isn’t the only thing you should keep a firm eye on. Monitoring your credit score and regularly checking your credit report are both incredibly important when working towards financial stability. (You can pull your credit reports for free each year on AnnualCreditReport.com or see your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)
While it might be difficult to do so, taking some time to properly assess all aspects of your finances can help ensure that you’re able to acquire the things you need, both now and in the future.
More on Managing Debt:
- The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
- How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
- 5 Tips for Consolidating Credit Card Debt