Starting a regular budget It is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall financial health. But one of the most important ways to stay financially disciplined is to stick to your budget. This is one of the hardest things to do, and anyone who tells you they’re not over budget will likely lie. If you’ve had an expensive day or weekend where you fell off the budget bandwagon, here are some tips to help you get back on track.
no one is perfect
The first thing to remember is that no one is perfect. Again, it’s possible that no one in the world sticks to their budget 100% of the time. The thing to remember if you have an expensive weekend is that the worst thing you can do is take it as an excuse to wipe out your budget completely and go back to just solving it.
Instead, your best bet is to take a deep breath, acknowledge what happened and start over again moving forward. Depending on how much of your budget you’ve spent, it may make sense to either try to adjust/calculate it or acknowledge it and move forward with a clean slate.
Treat the root cause or causes
There could be several reasons why your budget may be inflated:
- Spend the weekend eating or drinking with friends
- Extra money spent on gas or hotels from a road trip
- Spend more than you expected while on vacation
- impulse shopping
If it’s out of your budget once or twice, it’s not a huge deal. If you find that it happens more regularly, it may make sense to take a look and see if you can spot any of the root causes of your behaviour.
Does spending time in certain places or with certain people make you spend more than you want to? Or is there another common scenario you can identify? If so, you may want to modify your behavior accordingly. It is much easier to go over your budget in the heat of the moment than if you plan to get away from tempting situations.
Some helpful tips to get back on the right track
Deciding how you want to get back on track depends on the situation and how far out of your budget you are. If you’re spending on a $500 suit for your $50 a month clothing budget, it probably doesn’t make sense not to wear clothes for the next nine months to make up for it. This could be a situation where you borrow a bit from other categories, such as restaurants and entertainment To put yourself back in good shape to move forward.
If the problem is smaller as you just spent a little more than you intended, you might consider making some small adjustments to your life until the next month or salary. Things like preparing meals at home, cycling, using public transportation instead of driving, returning packages you’ve been putting off or selling unused items may give your budget a little extra money and energy.
Pro tip: keep your financial goals in mind. Set goals in the Mint app so you can monitor your progress and stay on track.
Remember – it’s a marathon, not a sprint
Above all else, remember that your journey to financial freedom and stability is a marathon, not a sprint. Whether you are trying to get out of debt, build savings, or prepare for retirement, your overall success will not be affected by the results of one week, one month, or even one year of spending.
Instead, it will be small changes in behavior, compounded over decades, that will make a difference. It’s cliched to talk about how Skip your daily coffee It’s going to turn into thousands of dollars in the future, but there’s some truth to that. Take a long look and find out how you can make some of these small, simple changes. Simple behavioral changes that already fit into your daily routine are more likely to persist.
We all make mistakes, and spending within your budget is no different. No matter how long you’ve kept the budget, you’ll likely find that there will be times when you (intentionally or unintentionally) break the bank. When that happens, it’s a good idea to take a long-term view and recommit to maintaining your budget. Tomorrow is another day, and another opportunity to take a step toward a life of financial freedom and stability.
Dan Miller (74 posts)
Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families travel free/cheap. His main base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel around the world as much as possible with his wife and six children.