– As you continue the budgeting process over time, you’ll get better at predicting expenses.  Many things we think “pop up” don’t really pop up at all.  We know they’ll happen at some point: Christmas, car repairs, new clothing, property taxes, lump insurance payments.  Make sure you’re setting money aside for these things all along.

– If something does “pop up” in the middle of the month, you have to go back to your budget and figure out how you’re going to pay for it.  You’re not in Congress!  You actually have to live on a balanced budget!  Move some money around, cut down some other expenses, and figure out a way to make it work.

– Always use a budget that is zero-based.  In a zero-based budget, your income minus the total assignment of dollars should be zero.  You don’t have to spend or consume every dollar, but every dollar should have a name and a purpose, even if those dollars are named for your “savings,” “giving,” or “vacation fund.”  If you don’t name them and give them purpose, you’ll look up in a few months and they won’t be there!