Budget Surplus

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What is a 'Budget Surplus'

A budget surplus is a situation in which income exceeds expenditures. The term "budget surplus" is most commonly used to refer to the financial situations of governments; individuals speak of "savings" rather than a "budget surplus." A surplus is considered a sign that government is being run efficiently. A budget surplus might be used to pay off debt, save for the future, or to make a desired purchase that has been delayed. A city government that had a surplus might use the money to make improvements to a run-down park, for example.

BREAKING DOWN 'Budget Surplus'

When spending exceeds income, the result is a budget deficit, which must be financed by borrowing money and paying interest on the borrowed funds, much like an individual spending more than he can afford and carrying a balance on a credit card. A balanced budget occurs when spending equals income. The U.S. government has only had a budget surplus in a few years since 1950. The Clinton administration (1993-2001) famously cured a large budget deficit and created a surplus in the late 1990s.

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