How to Recover from a Blown Budget

by Alexa Mason · 16 comments

Have you ever had a week (or maybe two) when your spending got out of hand? My last two weeks have been like that.

I had major family obligations to deal with, I started helping more at my dad’s business, and I took on another small freelance job — all within the same week. Life got crazy.

Needless to say, I let overwhelm take over, and my money pretty much flew out the window.

When it comes to budgeting, falling off track is a common problem. Here’s how I’ve recovered from my overspend, and how you can do the same:

Stop Dwelling

I ate out almost every night for the past two weeks. The house remained a wreck, and I stacked my unopened bills on the corner of the kitchen table.

Going over budget sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. Life happens: you can’t be perfect all the time.

Acknowledge that you messed up, then move on. Obsessing about it isn’t going to bring your money back.

Get Back in Your Old Routine

After recovering from a couple weeks of burnout, I started getting my financials back in order by returning to my old routines. I also played a little bit of catch up: paid my bills, balanced my checkbook, and took care of some transfers.

Sometimes when you fall off track, it makes you want to stay off track. It takes more effort to jump back on the bandwagon than it does to remain on the same path. That’s why it’s important to get back into your old routine as soon as you have the chance.

Get everything caught up, map out a plan for the remainder of the month, and immediately return to your former routine.

Blown budget

Temporarily Cut Expenses

These past few weeks, I’ve earned a little extra money. My overspending, therefore, didn’t get in the way of paying my bills — it just prevented me from saving the extra money like I’d planned.

I still desperately wanted to add a little extra to my savings this month, so I decided to temporarily cut back on my expenses.

If you need to cut back, consider the following tactics:

  • Eat at home until you’ve cleaned your shelves out
  • Have “no-spend” days, when you don’t spend a single penny
  • Skip paid entertainment and opt for board game nights or free concerts

If you’re still facing a budget discrepancy, you may have to look for extra ways to earn money for the month. Consider selling something or picking up extra hours at work.

The point is: if you’ve blown your budget, don’t beat yourself up too badly. We all make mistakes. The important thing is to pick up where you left off and get back to your budget as soon as possible.

When’s the last time you blew your budget?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • You must go through your budget again and see what you can save or change so it gives good results and get back on budget.

  • dojo says:

    He he, this hits home. We clearly blew our budget, well, I didn’t even have time to work on the budget in the past 2 months, with a newborn, so we’ll need to get back on our feet. Excellent advice.

    • David Ning says:

      Congrats on the newborn! With a new member in the family, you will need updated numbers on your budget anyway so this is the perfect time to get back into the groove.

  • Lauren says:

    I hate when this happens, and I tend to beat myself up over it. We had some busy days this month and ended up ordering pizza quite a bit. Hopefully April will be better and we’ll be able to reduce spending to make up for it.

  • I needed this. We blew the budget – at least so far for March – and I have been struggling with getting my mindset back where it needs to be. We are doing 6 no-spend days until the end of the month. We figure that is about as much as we can do to get back on track.

  • Alex says:

    A very truthful account of what we most go through, at least at some point. I’ve been guilty of ducking in and out and a budget and doing little but panic about getting back on track.
    A ‘no spending’ day is always a good one. I’ve done this on a few occasions as a semi-punishment, not too harshly though.

  • David Ning says:

    It’s okay for me to spend more in some months because I always make sure I don’t spend right up to the limit in most months.

    Think of spending as water in a bucket. If you always fill it right up to the maximum of what the bucket could hold, then even an additional drop of water is going to make a spill.

    Consider instead with leaving some room in your bucket every month. This way, a bit more water in the bucket becomes a non-event!

  • Eating out is one of the most expensive “activities” that sometimes blew my budget off. I usually get back on track by cooking more and eating at home.

  • We’ve had this happen a number of times and always seems to go back to when you’re just crazy busy. We intend to stay on budget, but we allow things to get in the way. We usually get back on track by cutting some expenses and committing to stopping whatever activities seem to be the worst.

    • David Ning says:

      How about not compromising and always allowing time to prepare lunches/dinners ahead of time? I am by no means immune, as I tend to spend more when I’m busy/stressed out too, but you wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth just because you are busy right?

      It’s all about priorities!

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