Monitoring Your Budget Progress.

The only way you can prevent budgetary mishaps is by keeping an eye on how you’re succeeding with your budget. Schedule a regular time each week when you can sit down and evaluate your progress. This should be a priority appointment with yourself, not a casual one that you easily postpone in favor of some other activity. Find the time when distractions are minimized and focus one hour on reviewing your budget. Put that appointment on your schedule as a weekly recurrence.

If you haven’t done so already, enter your receipts into your budget mobile phone app or spreadsheet. Compare the past week’s outcome with your goals. Identify those areas where you have succeeded and look for others where you incurred unexpected (e.g., car repair, medical tests) or unbudgeted (e.g., impulse buys) expenses. Be aware of what prompted those costs or change in income. Did you over- or under-estimate an item or simply run into an unexpected experience, like a job lay-off? Consider whether or not you need to adjust your budget to account for such outlays of cash in the future.

When you revisit your budget progress each week, compare your outflow of money to your total income and look for fluctuations—even minor ones can be significant. Small shifts in spending could become bigger if ignored. These shifts could also be an indication that you a sinking deeper into debt and your budget is failing. Once you step outside the boundaries of the budget you’ve set forth, even for a small expense, that one lapse could lead to others. Left unchecked, the budget will slowly disintegrate, along with the possibility of achieving the budget’s goals.

Many software packages and budgeting kits are available to help you monitor and analysis your software. See some related products in our personal budgeting products section.

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