Budgets are not static things – they need to be adapted and changed to reflect your income if they are going to remain effective.
The money we make and the money we have can change at the drop of a hat. With access to specialists, from a car accident lawyer to employment law, your financial situation can grossly improve.
You could have been injured in an accident, and an experienced personal injury attorney like Steven Halperin of Halperin & Halperin, P.C, could win you tens of thousands of dollars in a personal injury claim.
You could be made redundant from your job and receive a large payout, or you could win a significant amount of money on the lottery.
Even small changes in income need to be accounted for in your budget.
Pay rises, small winnings, and inheritance can all make a big difference to your financial status and, it is essential that this is reflected in your financial budget.
It’s also important to realize that your budget needs to be changed if you find yourself with less money coming in that you had before.
Whether you’ve made a significant purchase and have used up all of your savings, have lost your job with no redundancy pay, or have found yourself in a situation where you are spending above your means.
When To Reassess Our Budget
Changes in your income and spending won’t always be dramatic and, therefore, they can creep up on you over time.
This is why it is essential to reassess your budget regularly, even if it appears as though there has not been any change in your financial situation.
As a general rule, it is wise to reassess your budget every quarter (once every three months), as this will allow you to spot any adjustments that need to be made before they cause any significant damage.
Besides regular quarterly budget checks, it is also essential that you reassess your budget whenever you notice that your financial situation has changed.
For better or for worse, a rise or fall in your income will need to be allocated within your budget to ensure that you can afford your outgoings and are making the most out of the money that you have.
You should reassess your budget if:
- You get a pay rise
- You receive a significant sum of money
- You are made redundant
- You receive a legal payout
- You inherit money
- You win money
- You spend your savings
- You lose money
- Or there is any other change in your financial situation.
Budgeting using the Balanced Money Formula
The Balanced Money Formula is a simple way to budget your money, splitting your expenses into three principal categories, Needs, Wants, and Savings.
Needs are things that you must spend money on, such as your rent or mortgage, food, transport to work, and loan repayments, etc.
Wants are the things that you don’t need but would like to have; this includes things like takeout food, new unnecessary clothes, vacations, and entertainment subscriptions.
Savings are self-explanatory and could be a general savings account, an investment, or money towards your retirement.
The basic concept of the Balanced Money Formula is that you should spend 50% of your income on your Needs, roughly 30% on your Wants, and the remaining 20% of your income should be put into your Savings.
A very simple way of budgeting, the Balanced Money Formula, is extremely effective and can be easily adjusted whenever your income changes.
It’s crucial to realize that these percentages are a guide, and if it turns out that you have far fewer needs than 50% of your income, then the excess money can be split between your Wants and Savings.
Similarly, if your Needs account for more than 50% of your income, then decrease the amount of money you spend on Wants and try to keep your Savings at the same value unless necessary.
Budgeting Your Money After A Salary Change
A salary change, whether up or down, will shift the balance of your income and expenses, and as a long-term change in income, it is important to factor this difference into your budget.
Start by working out exactly how much more, or less, you will be receiving per paycheck (after-tax) so that you know the figure that you will be working with.
Whatever number you come out with should then be split into your Balanced Money Ratio.
If it turns out that you have more money than you need to be allocated to your Needs and Wants categories, then this should be diverted to your savings.
If on the other hand, your income has decreased and you can no longer cover your Needs with your new income, then money will need to be diverted from your wants, and changes to your luxury expenditure will need to be made.
Budgeting Your Money After A Significant Payout
Whether you’ve just won a legal battle, have received a large redundancy payout, have won money, or have inherited a large sum from a family member, it’s important to factor these single payouts into your budget.
Before you do anything with your payout, it’s important to make sure that you have paid and covered any taxes or fees that need to be settled so that you know exactly what you have left to play with.
If you have found yourself sitting on a very sizable amount of money, then the Balanced Money Formula, may no longer suit your needs.
In this situation, it is worth investing in the services of a financial advisor who can help you make the most out of your payout.
If, on the other hand, the payout you have received is relatively small, though still significant, it can usually be split using your Balanced Money Formula.
If you are still taking a salary, then this should still cover your Needs, leaving the full payout amount to be split between your Wants and your Savings.
If you are no longer working, or are going to be living off of the payout amount for some time, then it is essential to split it into your Needs and Wants categories so that your expenses are covered before putting anything that remains into your savings.
Budgeting your money after making a significant purchase
Whether you have just spent your savings on a deposit for a house, have finally purchased the car of your dreams, or have booked a two week luxury holiday, it is always important to reassess your budget after making a significant purchase – especially if the money has been taken from your savings or it involves a new regular expense.
If you have used your savings
Savings not only allow you to buy expensive things, but they are also a very important buffer should you get into financial difficulty.
If you have spent your savings, then you no longer have this safety net to fall back on and could find yourself in debt.
When re-assessing your budget after using your savings, your focus should be re-building this buffer zone as soon as possible by diverting some of your expendable income from your Wants, into your savings.
If your purchase involves a new monthly expense
If your purchase involves a new monthly expense such as mortgage repayments, direct debits, or otherwise, then you will need to ensure that you add this expense to the Needs category of your budget.
If your income status has not changed, then updating the Needs category of your budget will usually mean allocating funds that previously would have been split between your Wants and Savings.
If you are also trying to rebuild your savings, then you may need to cut back significantly on your Wants in order to afford the additional Need as well as the extra payment into your savings account.
Other budgeting methods to try
Throughout this article, we have referenced the Balanced Money Formula as it is one of the simplest forms of budgeting and is easy to explain within these scenarios.
However, there are a number of other budgeting methods to try if the Balanced Money Formula does not work for you.
Some of the other budgeting methods that you may want to try to incorporate alongside or instead of the Balanced Money Method are:
The cash-only money method
Pay for things using cash rather than a credit card to help curb spending by allowing your brain to make the connection between each transaction and the exchange of money.
The zero-based budgeting method
Start from scratch each month to create a budget that reflects the expenses of each month.
And the priority-based budgeting method
Make a list of your expenses in order of priority and importance to help you see what is truly essential and what is an unnecessary luxury.
Use your money to pay for the highest priority items first, and if your budget is used up then do not purchase those that are left.
So there you have it – a quick guide to budgeting your money after a financial change.
Do you use the Balanced Money Formula to keep track of your spending?
Let us know your preferred budgeting method in the comments.