What should you do when you give into an impulse purchase, overspend, and break your budget? It doesn’t have to be the end of the world (or your finances.) In fact, if you get back on track quickly, it won’t be too hard for you to fix this. In this post I’m going to show you how to get back on track after you break your budget.
HOW TO GET BACK ON TRACK AFTER YOU BREAK YOUR BUDGET
Usually when we make one money mistake it leads to another and another. We feel bad about overspending the first time, and we don’t want to think about it. So, we keep doing it until we feel numb to it.
Soon we’ve spent a lot and created a huge mess to clean up. This post is intended to help you prevent the huge mess. I want to help you clean up your financial mistake while it’s still small enough to handle easily.
Let’s talk about how to get back on track after you break your budget.
REMEMBER YOUR GOALS
Having a financial goal you are working toward is absolutely essential to saving money.
Your goal is the thing that stops you from buying everything you want whenever you want it.
It keeps you motivated and boosts your self-control when you’re tempted.
If you’ve made a financial mistake, it is probably because you’ve lost sight of your goal.
Or if you’re making a lot of financial mistakes, it could be that you don’t have a solid goal in place.
Revisit your goal. Remind yourself what you’re working for. Get excited about reaching it.
If your goal isn’t exciting enough, tweak it until it is.
Then, put it everywhere.
Write it down on Post-it notes and stick it all over the place – in your wallet, on your fridge, on your bathroom mirror, on your computer.
You want it to be in your face several times a day.
Remembering your goal and feeling motivated to achieve it is the first step to getting back on track.
DO A SPENDING FREEZE
Maybe this sounds a little extreme, but I want you to make up for the money you spent and get back on track quickly. A spending freeze is the easiest and fastest way to do that.
A spending freeze is just a period of time in which you don’t spend any money.
You can make your own rules. It can be as long as a month or as short as one week. You can stop buying anything at all, or you can continue to buy basic food staples.
Read How to do a Spending Freeze to get all the details.
Here’s the important thing about doing a spending freeze to get back on track. Make sure the money you save during your freeze goes to make up for the way you overspent.
So, if you put your impulse purchase on a credit card, use this money to pay it off. If you borrowed from another area in your budget to overspend, make sure you use the spending freeze money to correct it.
It may seem challenging at first, especially if you’ve never done a spending freeze before. But I promise it’s not that hard, and it’s really the fastest way to save money.
- Related: How to do a No Spend Month
Saving money is so much harder when you’re doing it all by yourself.
Find someone in your life (a close friend, a spouse, a sibling) that can be your accountability partner.
You want this to be someone who also cares about saving money and is going to help keep you in check.
And you want this to be someone you’re close enough with that you can talk to them about the tough stuff. Money is personal. You need someone you’re already comfortable with.
It may feel a little funny to reach out to a friend and say “hey, want to hold me back when I’m tempted to buy a new purse?” So, don’t jump to that at first.
A great way to start is by telling a few people about your spending freeze. Look for someone who gets excited about it. Maybe they want to join in too. This is the perfect way to spark an accountability relationship.
And of course it goes both ways. You need to help them by acting as their accountability too.
Once this relationship is in place, you should be able to text them from a store with a picture of something you’re tempted to buy and ask them if you should buy it. 9 times out of 10, your answer should be a resounding NO.
PUT SAFETY MEASURES IN PLACE
The last step to getting back on track after you break your budget is to put safety measures in place to prevent mistakes like this in the future.
We’ve actually been working on this all along because having a solid goal and finding an accountability partner are two very important safety measures.
But what else could you do?
Brainstorm ways to avoid your specific problem in the future.
Maybe you need to stay out of Target. Maybe you need to drive a different home from work so you’re not going right by Loft. Or maybe you need to do my lazy girl’s meal plan so you aren’t buying take-out 5 nights a week.
Figure out your own weak spots and look for ways to avoid them.
The more safety measures you can put in place for yourself, the better!
GET BACK ON TRACK
You made a mistake with spending, but now you know you to get back on track.
Start with remembering your goal so you know what you’re working for. Do a spending freeze and make up the money quickly. Find an accountability so you have someone in your life to turn to when you’re tempted. Then, put as many safety measures in place as you can to prevent the same problem from happening again in the future.
Stop beating yourself up and start fixing the problem. You can totally do this!
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