Start with a regular budget 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 never go over budget is probably lying. If you've ever had an expensive day or weekend off budget, here are some tips to help you get back on track.
Nobody is perfect
The first thing to remember is that nobody is perfect. Again, there is probably no one in the world who sticks to their budget 100%. When having an expensive weekend, the thing to remember is that the worst thing you can do is take as an excuse to completely scrap your budget and just give it a boost.
Instead, it's best to take a deep breath, realize what happened, and start over. Depending on how much you've taken out of your budget, it may make sense to either try to adjust / take it into account or just acknowledge it and move on with a clean sheet of paper.
Correct the cause or causes
There could be several reasons your budget got blown up:
A weekend eating or drinking with friends
Extra money for gasoline or hotels from a road trip
Spend more on vacation than expected
If you only go over your budget once or twice it's no big deal. If you find this happening more often, it might be useful to take a look and see if you can figure out one of the root causes of your behavior.
Do you spend time in certain places or with certain people, do you spend more than you want? Or is there another common scenario that you can identify? If so, you should adjust your behavior accordingly. It's much easier to overrun your budget in the heat of the moment than making plans to stay out of tempting situations.
A few helpful tips to get you back on track
The decision on how you want to get back on track depends on the situation and how far you are over budget. If you're spending a $ 500 suit on your $ 50 / month clothing budget, it probably doesn't make sense to go without clothing for the next nine months to make up for that. That could be a situation where you're borrowing a bit from other categories like restaurants and entertainment to get back into a good situation.
If it's a minor issue that you've spent just a little more than you intended, you should make a few small adjustments in your life by next month or your next paycheck. Things like preparing meals at home, biking or using public transit instead of driving, returning packages you've put off, or selling unused items can add some extra cash and energy to your budget.
Pro tip: keep your financial goals in mind. Set goals in the Mint app so you can track your progress and stay up to date.
Remember – it's a marathon, not a sprint
Most importantly, remember that your path to financial freedom and stability is a marathon, not a sprint. Whether you're trying to get rid of debt, build savings, or prepare for retirement, your overall success won't be hurt by the results of a week, month, or even year.
Instead, it will be the small changes in behavior that have intensified over the decades that will make a difference. It's a bit of a cliché to talk about it cut out your daily coffee will turn into thousands of dollars in the future, but there is some truth to it. Take the long look and see how you can make some of these small, simple changes. Simple changes in behavior that already fit into your daily routine are much more likely to get stuck.
The bottom line
We all make mistakes and spending within your budget is no different. No matter how long you stick to a budget, you will likely find yourself (intentionally or not) breaking the bank. In this case, it's a good idea to think long-term and re-commit to sticking to your budget. Tomorrow is another day and another chance to take a step towards a life of financial freedom and stability.
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Dan Miller (73 posts)
Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a website that helps families travel for free / cheaply. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 children.