Thursday, December 31, 2020

Budget changes for 2021

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone! I hope you stay safe & healthy with your families. It's my favorite time of the year, as we are about to turn over a new calendar page (metaphorically, at least) & start fresh. I make the time to review our previous budget & adjust accordingly, based on our priorities, life changes & general adjustments from the previous year. 

Clearly, all of our planning in 2020 meant very little, but we will try again in 2021. :-) Here are our planned budget changes by category in 2021. We will continue to both work from home until at least September of 2021 (for which we are super grateful), the kids return to school is unclear, and travel is questionable. Based on that, here are our changes to our budget categories in the upcoming year. And, changes refer to planned spend in 2020, not what we actually spent. That was an entirely different situation, given COVID. 

Areas we will cut/expect to be lower in 2021:

  • Gym - we will keep our gym membership on pause for the indefinite future, which will save money in 2021. TBD whether we will re-activate it during the year. We bought an elliptical & protective floor mat for the cost of a few months of gym membership.
  • Auto - unclear if we'll buy a car. We'd love another electric car, but if the world remains shut down & we aren't driving much, we won't need one. 
  • Auto insurance - our cost is down, due to significantly less driving. 

Areas we expect to be the same in 2021:

  • Christmas - no changes planned for next year, so I'll keep our existing budget. 
  • Gas - we will keep this as is. Despite not driving much at all in 2020, we were primarily budgeting before with having an electric car. We're still driving less in total, but each trip with a gas car. 
  • Entertainment - we will keep this as is as well. Our entertainment budget is pretty low (Netflix, etc) & we will retain the same services we have & don't expect to add any services or go anywhere for entertainment in 2021. 
  • Dining out - I'm going to keep this flat, as I'm hoping we'll be able to do a few splurge date nights by next summer. A girl can dream of an outdoor, socially distanced date, right? 
  • Summer camps - the boys want to do two summer camps next summer (if possible). Both are pretty pricey, but we will budget under the assumption they happen. That will keep summer camps as flat from our 2020 planned (not actual due to COVID) budget. 
  • Kids - we're expecting to spend the same (or less) than usual in 2021. We pivoted to some online tutoring & tennis (vs in person stuff), & while we spend less in 2020, we're hoping 2021 leads to more things opening back up. 

Areas we expect to be higher in 2021:

  • Utilities - we will budget for a $150/month increase, but unclear if that will be enough given how much more often we are at home in the year. 
  • Alcohol - I bought M a membership at a local winery, so I'll adjust the budget to accommodate. 
  • Groceries - given the changes (no free breakfast, lunch, snacks & drinks throughout the day for the adults) & other cost of groceries during COVID, our previous budget is just not attainable for the way we like to eat. I'll raise this by $250/month, & work on options to get us to this mark. 
  • Home projects - we didn't budget much for this in 2020 (but then, hello COVID & kitchen remodel) & it's unclear if we'll tackle a bathroom/bedroom remodel in 2021, leveraging our ability to work remotely & stay at the vacation house (at least me + the kids) during part of the summer. If so, I'll need to increase this budget to accommodate. 
  • Travel - it's hard to predict what will happen with travel in 2021, but our current plans are to take my parents to Hawaii in June for a combination of my dad's 70th birthday & my parents 50th anniversary. Taking 6 people to Hawaii will be pricey, so we'll budget accordingly. Other than that, we will likely spend time at our vacation house twice (summer & Christmas). If things really clear up with COVID & the vaccines, it would be great to get away with M. If not, maybe a long weekend to Napa. TBD. All told, the Hawaii trip will likely eat up the majority of our 2021 travel budget, so I'll add a bit extra in case travel opens up again for a trip with M. 

What about you? How are you planning to adjust your 2021 budget? Any major changes that will lead to increases or decreases? 


  1. Well I know I am increasing our grocery budget by at least $10.00 a week. I don't think things will change much on the covid thing until next Fall. Drats!

    1. That sounds like a good approach on the food budget.

  2. I'd like to tighten in all our regular spending areas, but not at the expense of other priorities. For instance, I want to get groceries back in check, but I don't want to add "cheap" food, so will concentrate on shopping deals again, restocking when prices are low, and not wasting. I'll keep watching where we can cut in utilities. I feel like regardless of what will happen, I'll regularly work at least 20% or more from home, so that should reduce transportation costs from pre-work at hoe levels.

    1. We have a similar approach with groceries. I want to make small adjustments but not impact the quality of what we're eating. It can be done with some effort & planning.

  3. I just really do not know. Covid threw such a loop into my work plans, and personal plans. I think I am just going to do repeat of 2020 goals because clearly I did not reach them. Cindy in the South

    1. Did it ever! Fingers crossed for a successful & wonderful 2021.

  4. Our big unplanned (in January) expense this year was a load of home maintenance, I'm on the fence as to whether we will tackle the other half of that work this coming year or not. We might just attempt more of a DIY style on the latter half if it doesn't require as much complicated drainage work. We'll see. We have to budget for a fourth human mouth to feed. Sadly, the costs of Seamus's (many) medications and food will drop off as our time together is drawing to an end. I'm not sure when but we're keeping a close eye on his physical decline and I know he doesn't have another year left in him.
    We won't have a full year of daycare costs either since we don't know when it'll be safe to send Smol Acrobat. We assume we might use some childcare of some kind but it would probably only be at the end of the year that things progress enough with vaccines to be safe. Of course considering how far off track we are with this year's expected vaccines (2 million instead of 20 million in December) I am staying pessimistic about any group care in 2021. We shall see. I can only hope that JB is enough entertainment for Smol, I remember that JB was quite bored being home with me before very long in their first year even.

    We have no plans for travel at all. If the opportunity arises, we will think about it but for now I would find it far more stressful and depressing to plan for something and cancel. I'll settle for wishful thinking travel dreams for now.

    1. I'm so sorry about Seamus, and it sounds like you are doing all that you can to maximize your time together.

      As for Smol (love that, ha), I'm in agreement on the childcare. My current prediction for my kids is they will be back in school after spring break (April), which would be 13+ months out of school. For a high schooler with a learning disability in particular, that learning gap will be really hard to make up. My 14 year old will likely be in a second wave of students to return to school, due to his learning disability. My 13 year old will be in the 3rd wave, so may start a little later.

      I'm somewhat of the opposite place with travel - I feel like planning it & booking some details (so far, just flights), gets me excited about the future. I keep booking, cancelling & rebooking using the same travel credits, and the new change policies means you're out no money. But, your plan makes a lot of sense. It's hard to imagine 2021 without any travel, but definitely could be a possibility