Add Grace to Your Budget

What do I mean by grace?  

Grace is what makes it ok to not be perfect.

It’s for all of those times you say, “Well, I would have made my budget this month if ______ didn’t happen.”

Lane is using a golf ball to demonstrate the new family rule:

Don’t put nuts in your nose.

Now we have a doctor bill for $100.

(Worth it.)


Jackets get lost. Books are overdue. You shouldn’t have parked there.

Wouldn’t it be nice to prevent every mistake or unforeseen event that costs you money? Those expenses you aren’t counting on might be unknown for now, but they shouldn’t be unexpected.

If every dollar in your budget is already assigned to something, then you need a perfect month to achieve your budget. It might be possible for one month or two, but it’s not realistic every month.

I mean it literally — make a line on your budget and call it Grace, or Extra, or whatever you think.

Isn’t that what an emergency fund is for?

No, let an emergency fund be for true emergencies such as a car accident or a trip to the hospital. Once you’ve made the effort to establish your emergency fund, you shouldn’t be dipping into it every month. Then you’re constantly having to build it back up. Leave it alone so it will be available when you need it the most.

How much extra buffer do you need?

It depends on your circumstances and if you have kids. We try to plan for an extra $50 or $100 a month for unknown expenses and mistakes. 

If you don’t need it, great! Transfer that money into savings at the end of the month. And cut yourself some slack. Life is short.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Quite right. Without it being on budget is just the most difficult thing.

    I always keep aside 10% of my budget amount as grace budget and it helps me. 2 out of 3 times, next month, it went to my savings.

    And one time, it helped me to survive the month. I just don’t like taking more cash from my bank account at the end of month.


  2. Grace is good for the lunches your husband eats out yet fails to tell you about.

  3. You are so correct with adding that buffer – especially if you have kids. With back to school around the corner – make it a big buffer. The school is always asking for extra money in the beginning.

    Btw, Sara did something similar a few years back. She put a bead in her ear!

  4. My brothers did things like this….beans in their nose, wheat in their ears, etc. I know the folks had multiple ER trips with them. And a buffer is a good thing. Especially when you have children and/or a husband who fails to tell you about ATM withdrawals.

  5. This is a great reminder. We do a similar thing. We normally have about $50-$100 leftover after we make the budget and we leave it alone. We don’t budget it for anything. Best case scenario, it because our entertainment fund. Worst case, it keeps us from accessing our savings.

  6. we’ve been trying to keep an emergency fund for awhile now but it seems like everytime we build it up, a HUGE expense comes up, usually having to do with a vehicle sadly. but, we keep trying.

  7. I can see we’re in good company here about nose accidents and extra expenses. That’s great persistence, Casey, keeping cars running can really be expensive.

  8. Yes, we call that category “miscellaneous.” Seems we always run out of stamps! Lol.

    When I was a child, my friend Theresa stuck peas up her nose regularly. One day she stuck a pea-sized rock up there. And it needed…ahem…help coming out! Lol.

  9. Great post, this is something we all need to consider when we budget!

    I have structured our budget to ensure we have “extra” that isn’t earmarked for anything. If we don’t need it, we put it toward our savings/retirement. I want to go part time, so I’m trying to find creative ways to stretch our budget, but I will make sure it isn’t by eliminating Grace!

  10. The daughter of a friend of mine put a small (hearing aid size) battery up her nose. They heard all sorts of horror stories about the corrosive properties of batteries…

    I agree about the “grace” catagory. As much as I would like to think I am a really good planner, I am not psychic so something always pops up. If you plan for the unexpected it is so much easier to stay on course.

  11. I’ve been thinking a lot about this … how we always seem to run out of money even after saving some. I put $300 into savings, only to have to take out $50 by the end of the month. I like dedicating a portion to nothing with a purpose and then, if it’s leftover, which it will not be, it can go into savings. Nice post!

    I struggle with how much to spend (like on home goods and improvements) vs. how much to save and where the money should come from when I do spend it. This might be the answer, too.

  12. This can be tricky, because I don’t want to encourage people to save less, but at the same time, it’s discouraging to have to pull money out of savings each month.

    Shawn, I know what you mean about home goods. That’s hard to budget for because it’s different every month and it seems like the money doesn’t go very far. Fortunately, it can slow down eventually. I don’t shop at home stores nearly so often as I used to since I feel like we have what we need now.

    The way corporate companies manage properties is that at the beginning of the year, they decide on a total amount they’re willing to spend for improvements to their buildings. That’s probably a good way for home owners too. Any improvements have to fit within the yearly budget (including accidents or unexpected repairs).

  13. My sister put a bean up her nose when we were kids! That was well over 40 years ago. Isn’t it great to know some things never change?!


  14. We’ve gone through a button up the nose experience!
    I think this is an important concept to apply to budgets, housecleaning, children, dealing with others: GRACE!!! Hello, we’re all humans, nothing is going to be perfect… we need to allow grace into our lives and stop beating ourselves (and others) over the head! :)

  15. This comment is from Rachel’s mom. She neglected to say that she put a pea up her nose when she was Lane’s age. After sitting in the doctor’s waiting room for an hour, he had the nerve to tell me that it was hard to get out because over time, it had swollen up because of the moisture in her nasal passages.

  16. Thank you for reaffirming this idea.

    Over the last month I have been trying to use cash for all non-grocery, non-gas purchases. I’ve also realized that I do need something for unanticipated expenses. I started using the $50 or so in change and small bills that I keep meaning to put in the bank. I take it out when I need it, and put it back when I have it. (I’ve had a couple of weeks where I’ve had a little cash left over.) It’s a great way to allow myself a buffer without using my “real” savings.

  17. As always…thank you for your post. I love the picture of your daughter! :) We had to make a couple of those types of rules also. For my daughter at age 4…now 15…do not feed your brother his bath water. For my son at age 2, now 13…rolling the kittens down the basement steps is not funny!
    Looking back, it all seems pretty funny now. :) Wonderful memories!


  18. Ha! You are amateurs… when I was a child I swallowed a note! Actually it was one of the tiny magnets we used at music school on a metal pentagram. It looked so much like a liquorice candy called GOLIA that I just had to put it on my tongue…

  19. This is an excellent idea – grace! You’re right, every month there is usually something that is unexpected. And if we know there is going to be unexpected (because there usually is) – then let’s prepare for it. We could all do well to implement this strategy.

  20. I had somehow missed this post, but I laughed out loud at the photo of Lane and the caption with it.

    I agree about grace money—we have a bit in our budget each month. Stuff happens. If you budget for a few small things to go wrong, it makes life much less stressful. (I feel for all the people right now whose budgets are so tight—perhaps even negative each month—who can’t build this in due to lack of funds.)

    Sally Parrott Ashbrook´s last blog post..The Moments