We’ve all done it. We decide we’ve had enough, we are sick of being in debt and we vow this is the FINAL time. No more! You are ready to get out of debt, craft the “perfect” budget that gives you a room to have fun but still cut back and you get to work. Things go well for a few months and then the budgeting part gets a little old.
You decide to let it slip a little here and a little there and before you know it you’ve overspent in a few categories or spent too much on the credit cards and you’ve blown your budget. Getting off track can be discouraging and also make you want to give up and just say forget it! You might have made a little progress but don’t feel you’ve done enough so what’s the point?
Let me be clear when I say this: SOME PROGRESS IS BETTER THAN NO PROGRESS! If you are feeling discouraged with your finances right now, don’t give up. I have found that the biggest change happens in the small daily activity instead of trying to incorporate huge sweeping changes.
If the world was a formula that those of us with a budget could follow, we wouldn’t have any issues. Unfortunately that is not the case. Life happens, things are up and then they come down but that is no reason to give up on your goals!
If you’ve over spent and are trying to get back on track one more time, here are some ideas to help.
Stop the slow leak
Benjamin Franklin once said “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship”. What does that mean exactly? That means that the small amounts we spend here and there over time usually add up to be the most disastrous. Why? Because we don’t even notice them as being significant enough to cause any damage! When we don’t notice them, it’s hard to stop them and it may seem like the situation is hopeless or there is nothing we can do to stop it. But that is not the case!
Take a look at where you spend your money. Do you find yourself saying “it’s only” a lot? If so, those are the expenses you want to watch out for first and try to stop.
The Credit Card game can get you in trouble
I’ve fallen for this trap many times (and actually just recently I tried it again and failed yet again). I was using a few credit cards to rack up the points so I could earn the points/miles for some upcoming vacations. While I absolutely love this strategy, you can not get lazy with it and spend more than you have available to pay off. Let me give you an example of how I failed miserably at this.
I have a certain amount of money set aside each month for fun activities (going out, concerts, clothes, makeup, etc.) and I started using my credit card to pay for these activities. At first it was no big deal, because I could easily see where I was at with my spending but then I got lazy. I wasn’t using an online budget tracker to keep up with my spending.
As the weeks went on, it was hard to tell when I looked at my credit card balance how much I owed. I knew some of the balance was part of the previous month I was getting ready to pay off and some was my current spending. It got confusing. And then guess what happened? I was overspending with out noticing! How did I fix it? I stopped using my credit cards for my activities and went back to my using spending account to make sure I could only spend what I had allotted for myself. Works much better now and I know I’m always within my budget.
Do Not Quit
It’s very easy just to give up with your finances when things aren’t going right. We can easily slide back into our old ways and undo any forward momentum we have made. This is a HUGE mistake. I’ve often compared getting out of debt to weight loss. A lot of the same principles apply:
Spend more than you earn – you will have debt
Eat more calories than you burn – you will gain weight
Do not let a few bad days undo months or even years of hard work! Every day is a new opportunity to get back on track. Never underestimate the power of small steps each day. Looking back, you will be surprised at how far you’ve come!
Looking for some help with getting your finances in order? Check out my new course: Tame Your Finances & Save $5,000 in the Process to learn more.
What steps have you taken to get back on track when you’ve strayed from your budget? Leave a comment and let me know what has worked for you!