What is incremental budgeting?

Truthfully, sticking to a “set in stone” budget is no easy feat. What you may have to turn to is a personal incremental budget. Incremental Budgeting implies using a previous budget or your actual spending habits as a basis for your current budget1. Your past spending serves as a tool for the new budget, and you use this information to add incremental amounts as you go along. This type of budget forces you to look at how you are really spending your money, what you are spending your money on, and how to change how you budget in general. There are many advantages to using approach but there are also some drawbacks.

The gradual change that results when using an incremental budget is one advantage and contributes to why it is so stable1. If a change crops up you will be able to notice it immediately. For instance, let’s say your phone plan is $50 bucks a month. Although you have been on top of how many minutes you are using, your text messages spill over for the holidays. In November you go slightly over how much money you allocated in October. In December the same thing happens again. Because you used an incremental budget you can gradually change how much you are spending in this area without feeling guilty. If you follow a set in stone budget, and the allocations for various areas stay the same during the year, it becomes very difficult to follow as prices generally fluctuate during a recession. Therefore I recommend following an incremental budget in relation to a fixed traditional budget.

Although this gradual and stable quality is an advantage, this budget also assumes that everything will stay the same2. This is one of the drawbacks of an incremental budget. Another drawback is that although you can notice change quickly, there really isn’t an incentive to reduce costs, if you gradually adjust your budget over time it will most certainly discourage you from looking for ways to lower costs2. In addition to this drawback, this budget is not recommended during times of change, because it fails to take changing costs like fluctuating gas prices, into account2.

A personal incremental budget may be helpful if you have trouble sticking to a set in stone budget because it helps you be more realistic about your spending and you can avoid the guilt of not spending exactly how much you planned to spend. It gives you a chance to notices a larger change quickly and make adjustments. This type of budget therefore is much more forgiving than a traditional set in stone budget that has fixed allocations month after month, but do know it comes at a cost.


Sybria White

Sybria White

Sybria White is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon graduation in May 2010, she will leave Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, a Certificate in Career Development and will be awarded a Public Service Scholar. She plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health following taking a year off to contribute to a National Service Program, such as AmeriCorps. Her undergraduate career has taught her the value of a sociological perspective, which has influenced her dedication to public service. She is a volunteer for W.D. Hill Recreation center, Peer mentor for minority students and has served as an active member of several campus organizations such as Sociology club, North Carolina Health Careers and Access Program, Community Government, and Minority Advising just to name a few.

Apart from contributing public service and active involvement on campus, Sybria is very passionate about creative writing and writing in general and hopes to bring a sociological point of view to her articles. Her interests outside of writing and public service include reading books concerning fashion and spending time with her family.

A well rounded curriculum involving Business and English academics in addition to sociology, have helped shaped this young writers’ unique voice. She is eager to share her newly acquired skills and looks forward to helping others approach every day problems from a new, and perhaps, sociological outlook.
Sybria White

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