Tom Snyder encourages people to keep track of their spending when they coach them about budgeting.

He says, “If we don’t track, then we don’t know when we should stop spending.” Grand Rapids’s retired engineer and financial coach, says that irregular costs such as vacations or birthday gifts can cause it to be easy to get off track.

It is important to be flexible in order to manage unexpected costs and other challenges. Snyder, a financial expert, says that you can still spend your money on the things you value most by finding creative ways to adjust your budget and cut costs in certain areas.

Use your own rhythm and not the rules

Severine Bryan is a personal finance coach and educator based in Atlanta. She says that a budget should be flexible and adapt to new challenges. She says that people often think they must follow a certain approach to budgeting, such as the 50/30/20.

Bryan, who is a doctorate candidate in business administration, prefers to keep track of her spending using spreadsheets. However, her daughter, now in college, prefers visuals and graphs. Each uses their preferred method and then they communicate about spending. She says, “It must be something you love so you want it to work all the time.”

Factor for variable expenses

Charlie Bolognino is a certified financial planner from Plymouth, Minnesota. He says that although the default view of budgeting is to look at it annually, it can be difficult to see your entire year in one go. He suggests that you start with a month-bymonth approach and then layer in the more predictable costs like holiday expenses. We won’t be able to catch all of them, but we do want to minimize surprises .”

Bolognino says that while major expenses like housing and child care payments can be fixed, other costs, including food, fluctuate a lot more. This means that food costs can rise if you host dinners at restaurants or host parties, but you can cut down on expenses by working shifts like shopping for grocery coupons and planning meals.

Join forces with your partner

Even though budgeting can be difficult, it is essential to communicate with your partner. Bolognino recommends that you don’t rehash a disagreement over money. Instead, plan your future and get excited about the common goals. Bolognino says that having these conversations can help strengthen relationships because it feels like they are all aiming for the same goal .”

He stopped blaming his wife for her coffee-buying habits when he realized that it wasn’t a large expense.

Determine what is really important

Chief executive officer of Money Habitudes is Cara Macksoud. She says that her husband, five children, and she first decide together what expenses are “non-negotiable”. This could include food and private lessons.

Macksoud offers creative solutions to meet your needs, including choosing cheaper options. Going on vacation is important for you. It’s essential to be together away from your daily demands. Her family lives in Venice, Florida. They decided to go on a road trip together. The plan was partly based on the places she’d seen on Instagram. She says that they did “crazy, off-the-beaten-path things”, such as visiting White Sands National Park, New Mexico. The couple had an unforgettable (and Instagram-worthy!) day riding down the white sand mounds on an air mattress.

Use community resources

Erin Voisin is a certified financial planner who manages EP Wealth Advisors in Torrance. She says she’s saved hundreds of dollars by buying toys from moms groups or “buy nothing” groups. She says, “I don’t want to spend full price so I join groups which post flash deals and giveaways.”

Voisin found holiday and birthday gifts for her children from community social media pages. Voisin also won a large Hot Wheels garage kit that retails at over $100. Voisin also discovered free activities through Facebook groups such as taking her children to the pet shop to see the animals.

Families with limited resources can use the website to find food banks and bill-paying assistance.

Bryan states, “Prioritize the roof above your head, food, and a way to get there and utilities.” “All the rest will fall in place .”

This article is by NerdWallet. It was originally published in The Associated Press.