What To Do When A Budget Category Doesn’t Get Spent

Have you ever faced this challenge?  You get to the end of the month and there is a budget category or two that didn’t get all spent.  That’s a good challenge to have because it means there is actually money left over at the end of the month.

Keep in mind I’m a saver so my biased opinion is to put extra money towards a savings goal or debt payment.  If you don’t have an emergency fund in place that’s probably the best thing you could do with any extra money, but that’s the saver in me talking.  If all the debt is payed off except the house then I might even do something crazy like put extra towards the house payment.  Those are saver-minded ideas.

The spenders are revolting as they read those ideas.  They want to spend it on something, anything other than holding it in an account or putting it towards debt that could always wait another month to get paid down (the procrastispender – I just made that up – trademark).  They would rather blow it all at a single expensive restaurant than see it put behind bars in a bank.

See how this could cause a problem?  Everyone is going to choose a little differently what they do with any budgeted funds that are not yet spent at the end of the month.

Shawna and I did the dining out thing with leftover funds for a while, as long as it wasn’t a ridiculous amount of money.  One couple we know actually started transferring the extra discretionary funds into a separate account for the spender to do whatever they want with it.  Another approach might be to roll the extra funds into the next month to spend more on whatever the particular budget category is the following month (this is still a lot like saving but might be a good compromise for discretionary categories).  Maybe you have a shared plan, hope, or dream that can be contributed to with the extra funds (like a giving goal or a Disney Vacation).

Whatever you choose to do with the extra I would challenge you to consider whether or not adjustments are needed in the budget.  If the extra funds are from a fixed category then that needs to be adjusted on the budget.  If the extra funds are from a discretionary category challenge yourselves to reduce that category to what you really intend to spend.

How do you manage extra money at the end of a budget?

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