How do I monitor and adjust my budget?

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As you've read, there are many different options to track and monitor your budget.  Don't be locked into one choice.  Perhaps you try the spreadsheet method the first month just to get a handle on the whole "budgeting" concept.  Then, try out a website or app and keep track of your budget on your phone or laptop.  It may take you several months to decide on which method works best for you.

But, how do you adjust your budget?  Go back to Step 5 and "trim" your budget starting from the wants and working your way up to your fixed needs.  Do not completely eliminate the "fun" out of your budget!  If you don't plan for your wants, you will be more apt to get discouraged and not stick with your budget at all!  Need more help?  Personal Finance@Duke offers monthly workshops and individual budgeting help for all current Duke Students and recent grads.  For more information, email us at personalfinance@duke.edu or call 919-660-3630.

Remember, a budget isn’t static—it changes as your life changes. Keep your budget in mind as you make choices and lifestyle changes. New job in a new location? You may need to adjust the monthly gas expense for your car. Want to adopt a puppy? You’ll definitely need to check your bottom line and ensure that you can afford the upkeep. Keep a log of your expenses and don't change your spending habits without first adjusting your budget!