There’s two things that really seem to ruin my best budgeting efforts. Emergencies, and Gifts. Emergencies can’t be helped. When necessary, we dig as deep as necessary, rob Peter to pay Paul, shift money from one budget category to another, and shuffle whatever is necessary to satisfy emergency needs. If we budgeted well, we added enough to cover emergencies. But sometimes emergencies do throw even the best-made, well-thought budgets into a tornado followed by an avalanche.
Gifts are another story though. We CAN and SHOULD budget for gifts. We should use a calendar and determine what birthdays and anniversaries to budget for, and then stick to the budget. But those un-expected gifts can end up feeling much like emergencies, such as un-expected pregnancies, fast and furious wedding invitations, and even hospital stays. You can’t forsee all these different circumstances, but you CAN decide ahead of time how you will react to them.
If, for instance, someone very close to you falls and breaks their leg and has to go into the hospital, it is very easy to consider such an event an emergency and start tossing money around that really ought not be spent. It is not necessary, dear neice, to spend your emergency stash on a huge basket of goodies for your favorite Auntie. Auntie doesn’t WANT you to do that anyway! She’d rather you kept your money where it belongs and give her a phone call and send a well-searched for Hallmark Card.
Gifts can also ruin a budget quickly if you budget for the low-end gift and then decide later that you just can’t possibly give your spouse a candle when what she really wants is that Tiffany Bracelet she’s been eyeing. But you both together decided that you were going to keep the gift-giving budget low so that the monies could be used in other areas of your budget. In this case, if you must, buy a knock-off and promise that when the babies are older, you’ll make room in your spending to buy that bracelet she really wants.