Adjusting the Budget Over Time

by Kay Lynn

At the end of each month we prepare the budget for the next month.  Most of the time it’s a simple task with small adjustments.  For example, in July and August I plan for larger electric and gas bills than in June and September due to air conditioner usage.

Sometimes the changes are bigger.  As our lives change over time so have our budget demands. Here’s a a peek at five categories and how they’ve changed in the last 12 years.

Piggy savings bank

photo credit: alancleaver_2000


Although our current mortgage is about $100 a month higher than our previous home, it is a smaller percent of income.  You couldn’t even rent a one bedroom apartment for what we pay each month.  ?With a goal of paying mortgage off early this goes away in less than 10 years.


Cable and Internet have probably gone up the most in the budget area although the other line items have also increased.  We didn’t have high speed Internet in 1998 so it may be an unfair comparison, but I’m not willing to give it up today!

Over the air television reception has never been great in San Diego County so we’ve had cable forever.  The price seems to increase every year with the electrical rates not far behind.

We cut out the land line and are on a power saver program to save money but then there’s the cell phone…..


This is one area we definitely pay more today.  I am on a few medications to manage various conditions  as opposed to none in 1998.  I find it common among friends my age although I hate it.

Being on medications means more doctor visits as well.  Each doctor visit costs three times as much as it did since our copay went to $30 last year.


We took our first cruise in 1998 and it cost about $3600 for the four of us on a week long cruise.  That’s before you add in the cost of parking, excursions and onboard expenses.  We typically spend the same amount or less each year today.

The only reason this has stayed constant is that there are two instead of four.


Even though prices are higher now than in 1998 our expenses are lower.  Before the kids were adults, a trip to the movie meant 4 tickets and snacks all around.  Add the cost of sporting equipment, team fees and dinners out following Little League games and our budget far exceeded the $50 I plan a month today.

We keep it low by going to the movies for the matinee and buying 1/2 price live theatre tickets.


Have you gone back and looked at your expenses from the 1990’s?  Our kids are grown so some expenses have been eliminated or decreased.  At the same time aging has brought us new costs.  How does your budget compare?


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Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 22, 2010 at 6:44 am

Like you, we track our expenses as well. The data is always quite enlightening. I found your comment “You couldn’t even rent a one bedroom apartment for what we pay each month” particularly interesting. That’s a very good place to be until it’s paid off.

Kay Lynn September 26, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Roshawn, it is nice when your mortgage becomes cheaper than rent. Can’t wait until it’s “free”.

Everyday Tips September 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

Our medical expenses have gone up dramatically, but not because of medications. Our medical insurance has increased in price, as have the copays.

We probably spend more on vacation since there are 5 of us, and trips are a priority for us. My kids are teens and won’t be home a whole lot longer, so I have to go places with them while I can.

Our gas expenditures have gone way up, as I drive about 28,000 miles a year now with all the kid’s activities. When they were little, I probably traveled less than 10,000 a year.

Entertainment expenses? What are those? 🙂

Kay Lynn September 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Loved your comment about entertainment expenses. We had free entertainment this weekend after taking advantage of the Smithsonian promotion offering free museum admission yesterday. Then today it was the community pool we pay for whether we use it or not (HOA).

Jersey Mom September 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Well, back then I didn’t have kids so it was just me. We do spend quite a bit on the children – aside from the basics like food and clothes, there are allowances, summer programs, sports, family outings, vacations, etc.

Kay Lynn September 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Jersey Mom, kids are expensive! I’m glad I had them but I know why my friend without kids has a lot more money saved than I!

Nicole September 23, 2010 at 6:39 pm

In 1998, I paid $1000 for the year for entertainment. Everything else was scholarship or my parents. 🙂

Khaleef @ KNS Financial September 25, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Because of our massive debt, our budget doesn’t change that much within a given year. Back in 1998 I was single and working a dead-end job, and I didn’t have a budget so I have no clue what my expenses looked like back then.

Kay Lynn September 26, 2010 at 6:36 pm

My budget has changed a bit from last year, but I see the big difference when I go 5 years or more back. I am also paying off debt which isn’t as exciting as investing!

Budgeting Money September 27, 2010 at 5:33 am

Our gas expenditures have gone way up, as I drive about 8,000 miles a year now with all the kid’s activities.

Kay Lynn September 28, 2010 at 7:51 am

I remember those days of ferrying kids all over. Before you know it, they’re over.

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