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When Was the Last Time You Updated Your Budget?


I spent Saturday night doing something super exciting. Okay, not really – I filed my 2012 taxes – but it was a little exciting to find out I overpaid my quarterlies and will be getting a refund. I was really worried about how my first year of self-employment would affect me at tax time, which is why I decided to start the process early.

Anyway, as I was sorting through my business and personal records, I realized that some a lot of my bills have changed since I made my current budget. For example, my gas and electric bills are on a levelized plan where they’re the same every month. At some point in 2012 my gas bill dropped by $15 a month, but I’ve been paying the old amount. My latest gas bill was only $9 because I’ve overpaid so many times.

The more time I spent looking, the more these oversights started to add up. By the time I submitted my return (I use TaxACT in case you’re wondering), it was clear I needed to sit down and create a totally new budget to reflect my current life instead of my life in late 2011.

How Did This Even Happen?

Luckily my lack of attention didn’t result in any money catastrophes last year – all my bills were paid on time, I didn’t go without anything I needed, and I haven’t lost any money that I can’t get back in the form of statement credits. But the only reason I avoided disaster is because my bank pays my bills automatically. I allowed myself to become “too busy” to pay attention to where my money was going other than knowing it was going toward bills.

It’s so easy to get caught up in other things… I’ve been very fortunate to make enough money to cover my expenses (which are very low) pretty easily. Yet I can’t help thinking, What if I hadn’t been so lucky? What if that extra $15 I was sending to the gas company had been the difference between staying afloat or overdrafting my bank account? It’s not like it’s been soooo long since that would have been the case.

Keep Your Budget Updated, People

I wish I had a really cool reason why I haven’t looked at my budget in months. I guess I could make one up but I’m not a fan of lying. When it comes down to it, I just didn’t do what I should have done. I knew how much I needed to put in that account to pay my bills (as of the time I made the budget, anyway), I had a cushion in there to cover anything unexpected, and I just stopped paying attention other than checking the balance once or twice a week.

From now on, my phone and computer will remind me once a quarter to review my budget and compare it to my actual bills and spending. I have no plans to stop using my bank’s bill pay services, but I think I can do a little better than blindly throwing money in my checking account without looking to see where it goes.

Nobody likes budgeting (I know I don’t!) but it’s a necessary evil for most of us. If you’re still using the same budget you created a year ago or six months ago, are you confident that it’s the same budget you should be using right now?

When was the last time you updated your budget to reflect your current circumstances? How do you stay on top of things even when life gets busy?

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. plantingourpennies says

    Oh jeez Mr. PoP and I were just talking about this last night. Travel has never been a budgeted category for us… just always "extra" spending. And part of that is because we built the main budget in 2009-2010 when we were not traveling EVER. But we want to keep it as something we like to spend money on, we just need to add it to the budget to make it more intentional spending than having it feel like an "oops!" or "oh well.."

  2. Budget & the Beach says

    I do it every month..what I DO need to pay closer attention too is every single line on my bank statement. I had put my tivo on hold last June when it broke and I thought maybe I'd get a new one after a couple of months. Well I decided not to and just go with the cable company's version, and totally forgot to cancel, then just recently saw there were three months worth of charges. I tried to get it taken off but I could only get the most recent one taken off. Grrrr!

  3. This is a common problem for a lot of people. In my case, I created my beautiful, detailed, and perfect budget. I figured I would just stick to it until I buy a house or a car or start repaying my student loans. How silly would that have been? After about a year, I realized the budget needed to be reviewed and revised often.

  4. Anne_UGifter says

    That is pretty slick, that your bills went down! Ahem, I don't budget really, but that is entirely besides the point. Way to go, your expenses are going down AND your income is going up. You're probably slaughtering your debt now, well done.

  5. I always check my budgets at least every 2 weeks… I'm planning on setting up a property portfolio soon and need to ensure I'm on the right track!!!

  6. I always monitor my budget and allow extra to accumulate in the budgeted category. Every once in a while I clear the extra out to our current #1 goal and adjust my budget if I feel it is necessary. Glad your gas bill was so low this month 🙂

  7. I actually just created a budget for us for the very first time. No wonder we could never get caught up! We are usually barely making it, this month, I said enough was enough. I have 200$ saved from this past paycheck! Yes Please!

  8. I actually think its better to pay more on your bills and let the credit build up that way if you have a high month or are short money some month you have that cushion already on your bill. I need to review my bills more often but Id be lying if I said I didtnt find the task daunting. Or dauntingly soul crushing. Sigh. Getting back on track after I get my return in 3 weeks. 🙂

  9. I'm a total budgeting nerd—I track every penny weekly, and I update my budget at least monthly (usually it's more like twice per month as I usually like to update things mid-month to account for any surprise expenses, etc).

  10. I do a quick and dirty budget at the end of every month for the month to come, i just use the back of a scrap envelope and leave it in view on my desk.. Expenses don't change that much from month to month.. and i log everything into quicken during the month to keep a record of actually spending.. it helps me go out and spend my fun money guilt free knowing everything is accounted for during the month..

  11. janesavers says

    I redo the budget every six months but I do it more often if there is a change such as a permanent reduction in hours (coming soon) or when I can negotiate a permanent reduction in an monthly expense.

    Redoiing the budget is usually a positive experience but when I do it the next time I will have to pay all the same bills but with less money. Outsourcing is headed my way.

  12. I actually love to budget, but this year is proving to be a challenge. I haven't figured it out yet. Our take home pay is significantly lower now, thanks to the payroll tax going back up, and insurance premiums almost doubling. Ouch. This is on my to-do list this month. I wish my bills would go down!

  13. I need to do this, as soon as the dust settles.

  14. Canadianbudgetbinder says

    We look at our budget every single month, update as needed and reflect on it. In fact I'll be posting our January budget Update tomorrow and should be working on it right now although I'm not. lol… Glad to hear you got your taxes sorted out… big relief, we still need to do ours shortly.

  15. studentdebtsurvivor says

    January 1st, but I need to update again because our dog sitter just increased her rates.

  16. I track all of our income and expenses, but have never actually set a budget. We just try to minimize expenses… and save the rest. Perhaps I should try approaching things from a different angle… and establish a budget!

  17. Weird as it sounds, I have a budget. The absolute necessities to get me by each month. So I know how much I can start throwing at my debt once I get a job. My plan is to get my small emergency fund up to $1000 and then just throw all my extra income each month at my debt.

  18. I need to update mine again. I did an estimated budget a couple of months ago before moving and a lot of my estimates are pretty far off. Not sure that I want to see my actual though…

  19. brickbybrickinvesting2012 says

    We go over our financial statement every 3 months. This includes a budget along with all of our assets, liabilities, and cash flow.

  20. kimateyesonthedollar says

    Since we've only had a budget for less than 6 months, I haven't done tons of updates, but it does change monthly it seems. We are still trying to tweak it, but I'll try to revisit monthly.

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