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How to Make Your Budget Even Better

When you get to the top, you don’t stop working. You start reworking.

Big brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, for example, stay at the head of their respective markets each year because they remain relevant. They adapt to their ever-changing consumers with new products like cane-sugar-sweetened Cokes and all-day breakfast. Egg McMuffins for the win!

The same goes for your budget. Family expenses and activities are constantly changing around you: Gas prices go down. Health insurance skyrockets. The kids have birthday parties.

Is your budget keeping up? Or do you keep forgetting to revisit your money plan each month? Rework your good budget into a great one with these five easy tips.

1. Take your budget off autopilot.

No two months (or two budgets) are exactly alike. Last month was full of relaxing weekends at home. This month? You have a wedding, two birthday parties and a class reunion to attend. That means you have some budgeting decisions to make. Remember, you can always turn down an invite if you can’t afford that trip down memory lane. See—it pays to budget!

Related: Make Your Money Goals Happen by the End of 2015

2. Name every single dollar.

After you subtract all your expenses and savings from your household income, every dollar should be accounted for. When you give every dollar a name, your money won’t get “lost” on lattes anymore. You can sip away, knowing you can afford it.

3. Go ahead, plan for some fun.

Your life’s not all business. So your budget shouldn’t be either. While you’re working toward goals like paying down debt or filling your emergency fund, create some wiggle room to enjoy activities like date nights and fall shopping. If you don’t, chances are you’ll spend on them anyway—and without a plan in place, you might go overboard. So budget a reasonable amount to enjoy!

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Related: Why You Need Some Fun Money In Your Budget

4. Consult your calendar.

It’s impossible to plan out every last detail of the month ahead, but it’s a good idea to see what’s coming up. Have a friend with a birthday? Plan some extra lunch money so you can cover her meal too. Have a doctor’s appointment? Don't forget about the copay. The small things we “forget” about are typically what throw us off during the month. With a little planning, you can create a budget that won’t let you down.

5. Avoid the Miscellaneous dark hole.

We understand that there will be things that pop up throughout the month that you didn’t see coming, but don’t lump all of these expenses in a catch-all budget category. For example, you budget $100 for miscellaneous items but then you start using it for everything from new contact lenses to the bathing suit you ordered on sale. Miscellaneous needs to be something you couldn’t have planned for—like a broken high heel or a proper stylist to fix your toddler’s haircut attempt. Don’t use this category as a secondary shopping fund. If you always have money left over, consider lowering the amount for miscellaneous items and putting it toward debt instead.

Budgeting, like everything in life, can fall by the wayside if you relax your focus. Keep your money moving forward by staying up to date on your current expenses and money goals. Life moves way too fast to play catch-up. You can actually enjoy the ride with a better budget!

Planning your budget for life is now easier than ever. Create a budget that fits your changing lifestyle in less than 10 minutes. Get started with a free EveryDollar budget today!

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