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What Is A Buffer?
Have you ever experienced an unexpected shock to your personal situation, and find that you didn’t know what to do? If you’re like everyone else, then you will have responded with a resounding, YES!
The same applies to your personal finances. Often, people get caught up in budgeting down to a specific dollar figure, and that’s great – BUT! When something unexpected comes up, they are at a loss on what to do. This is when problems occur and debt can start building up.
A Buffer in relation to your budget is exactly as it sounds. It’s an amount that you set aside to reduce shock in the event of unexpected expenses. A barrier, A buffer = A Safety Net.
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Why You Need A Buffer
Simply put – you need a Buffer in your budget because life is full of surprises… both good and bad.
- It’s Easy to Forget Things | Sometimes – for no good reason at all (except perhaps that we are all very busy moms) – we forget. It’s easy to forget that birthday party that your child was invited to a month ago and you now need a present for. Or that their piano lesson fees are due. Or maybe you forgot that the car needs an oil change, or the family BBQ needs a tank refill. Whatever it is – the reality is that we sometimes, simply forget.
- Over-spending Can Happen | In spite of all our good intentions, we sometimes buy things we haven’t budgeted for – like a new drill for your husband, who loves to DIY, because his old, handy-dandy one finally gave; or a new book you want to read but is not available in the local library.
- Because You Need to Have Some Fun | Budgeting should not mean that you cannot be spontaneous and decide to take the family out when someone gets a high mark on their report card.
How Much You Should Have As Your Buffer
You’ll find that many financial experts give equally, many responses. Some say a good buffer is $200 in the bank. Some go for $500, Others say $1000. I hear you asking – Is that all?
First, let me explain something. A Buffer is NOT an Emergency Fund. A Buffer is there to help you in your time of need. A time when life throws you an unexpected financial curveball. This is different from an Emergency Fund.
Personally, I believe that a buffer should amount to what your regular highest monthly expense might cost. We keep $1000 as our Buffer. This comes to $200 per person in a family of four (and a fur baby).
How To Build A Buffer
SO – depending on your financial resources at the moment, you can either create one straight away – OR, you can save and build up to it.
It’s unlikely that you will need a Buffer every month, especially if you’ve got a good handle on your family budget. This means that you can save up for it, and not stress out.
First – determine how much you want your Buffer to be. And then, every month, after you’ve given your dollars a job in the budget (eg, groceries, utilities, insurance etc), start adding a sum to your Buffer – $10, $20, $30 (whatever you can spare) – until such time that you hit the amount that you would like to call your Buffer. As I said, we keep $1000 as our Buffer; which stems from $200 per person plus Evie, our dog (because yes – she brings unexpected finances too).
Now, remember, a Buffer is there to absorb financial shocks – and should not be used willy-nilly.
Some Resources To Help You
A good app that you can use to help you budget is this. It’s great to use because it helps to track your income and as well as your expenses and spending across different categories. It also has a cool feature which allows you to sync your whole family to access it. on most devices. It’s a great way to teach your kids about finances too.
This is also a really good resource. You learn that financial freedom is 80% behavior and 20% knowledge, which is so true. It’s all out in little baby steps so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by it all. If you want to, you can also get it as a free audiobook, when you sign up for a free trial here. You get two free ones and can cancel anytime.
You may be wondering now if you need an Emergency Fund because I said earlier that a Buffer is different from an Emergency Fund.
The short answer this question is, Yes!
We’ll talk about that another time xoxo