Having the proper amount of budget flexibility will make your life less stressful. I have a bad habit of not doing this and it just makes things annoying for me. If you read my post on how many checking accounts should a married couple have, then you know that my wife and I have 3 checking accounts; Mine, hers, and ours. The budget that always seems to bite me is the “ours” account.
For some reason (I promise I will tell you the reason), I have a mental block about adding in flexibility to this budget. There is plenty of flexibility in our personal checking accounts and even a built-in buffer for each account. Joint account, nope, none of that. I could make excuses here and say there have just been more unexpected expenses happening the last few months, which is true, but is not the root cause of the problem.
Cause of Inflexibility
Every year it is the same few months that give me a headache: June, July, and August. It is normally just those three months that are an issue. That was until this year. This year our joint account budget started running into trouble around April. What changed this year? A heat wave that caused unusually high temperatures starting in March.
The electric bill fluctuates enough to throw everything off and cause a loss of flexibility in the budget. Why do I never fix this problem? Because it always goes away. The power bill at my house is sometimes triple what it was in the winter, but it always goes back down. I did base the monthly budget on the highest electric bill of the year, so that wasn’t the problem. Another reason: I am too lazy to adjust the money transfers for three months out of the year.
Solution to making this budget flexible
The way I am going to fix this problem is just add $150 to our joint budget. All the money left over at the end of the month (during the Fall, Winter, and Spring) will be transferred to a joint savings account and probably put towards a vacation. The other option would be to allow a “buffer” to build up in the account during winter to cover the increases in the summer.
It is win-win. I don’t have to adjust our contributions to the joint account during the summer months and we will already have some money saved up for a vacation.
If you need a budget spreadsheet. I recommend visiting Budgets are Sexy’s free budget templates.