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Do you need to rework your budget?

By Nathan Rice

They’ve started making it to my mailbox. Medical invoices wait for me on a regular basis next to miscellaneous junk mail and that blue envelope full of coupons. Explanations of Benefits sheets from my insurance company are also coming at a furious rate. Being a medical enigma is expensive!

There are many unexpected turns on the road of life, and some of these turns require a rework of our budget. Medical expenses can cause an unexpected twist of our finances, but it’s just one thing of many that can cause our budget to get out of shape. I’m working with my medical providers regarding payments, but I know I need to rearrange some of my expenses and rework my budget to help cover these unexpected expenses. There are several steps that can be helpful when a budget rework is required.

Begin by researching ways to save money on current monthly expenses. I love having my bills automatically paid, but automatically paid invoices are often faithfully paid without much thought into what we are receiving or what we really need.  Cable or satellite providers, internet service providers, insurance companies and many others will continually charge the same amount, or perhaps even increase the amount, month after month after month. Take a look to see what you still need, what you still use and if there is a way to save on these reoccurring expenses. Perhaps you no longer need the fastest Internet speed, or maybe you no longer watch any of the channels on your premium TV package. Have you taken the time to review your insurance needs and to receive quotes from other insurance companies? It seems like there are 10 ads every TV show promising to save us money on auto insurance. Why not allow these companies to provide a quote to see if you can save? A review of what you are paying for and what you actually need may help you save money monthly without any major changes to your standard of living.

Next, if times are really difficult, consider what sacrifices can be made. It could be that it is time to join the movement of those cutting the cord with cable in order to rely solely on internet-based television. Perhaps it is time to sell that extra car or motorcycle that you don’t use too often in order to save on insurance and personal property tax while adding some funds from the sale. It is important to not go immediately overboard in making sacrifices. Healing comes in many forms, and I was personally very glad for my DVR when my medical issue kept me from my daily activities. Don’t overreact, but be prepared to give up some luxuries until your budget is back to normal.

In this same train of thought, carefully consider impulse and overpriced purchases. Cutting back on eating out, limiting impulse purchases on overpriced items at gas stations and carefully considering where you can save can help you place needed funds onto that unexpected expense.

Dealing with an unexpected expense is not fun, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the end to your credit history or your savings account. A little bit of effort placed into reworking your budget when an unexpected expense occurs can help keep your problems from compounding.

Nathan Rice is the relationship manager of the Downtown Suffolk branch of ABNB Federal Credit Union. He is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.