COLLECTION: BUDGETING & SPENDING

How to recover from a blown budget

Personal budgeting allows you to make smart financial decisions. Read tips on how to recover from a blown budget.

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Have you ever had a week (or maybe 2) when your spending got out of hand? My last 2 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 it overwhelm me, 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:

1. Stop dwelling

I ate out almost every night for the past 2 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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Article copyright 2018 by MoneyNing. Reprinted from the December 6, 2018 issue with permission from MoneyNing.
The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Fidelity Investments cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any statements or data.
This reprint is supplied by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC.
The third-party provider of the reprint permission and Fidelity Investments are independent entities and are not legally affiliated.

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