Are you struggling to get back on your budget after a period of overspending?
Have you ever had a “bad” budgeting month where your spending didn’t align with your budget?
You are not alone. But that doesn’t mean you’re a budgeting failure or that you’re bad with money. All it means is that you had one bad month.
So how do we recover from a spending spree and get back to feeling good about our budget and spending?
Maybe try and use that experience with your “bad” spending period as an opportunity to learn and refocus.
This post is all about the strategies you can use after a streak of unintentional spending.
But before we get into the details, let me tell you a little bit more about my own struggles with having a not so “good” budgeting month.
Every Budgeter Has a “Bad” Month or two (or three or four…)
Even though I’ve been budgeting for years and feel like I have a good handle on my spending, there are times where I simply find myself spending like I have no budget at all.
And when this happens, I feel like I no longer have control of my money.
I don’t like this feeling.
Feeling in control of my money is why I budget. Therefore, when more than a little overspending happens, I know I need to figure out how to gain back control.
After a tough month where we were dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions – the passing of our beloved dog friend and the excitement of picking up our converted campervan – I noticed that our spending was pretty haphazard.
We went out to eat and got takeout more than normal. And our excitement for the van had us frequenting Amazon for all the stuff we wanted to customize the van to our liking.
We were not thinking about our budget before making our spending choices, and this had me feeling a little bit anxious at the end of the month.
So for my own well-being, we had to find a way to get back to being intentional with our spending choices and get back on the budgeting train.
Here are the steps I took to get back to feeling good about our spending.
Tips to Help You Bounce Back From a Streak of Overspending
Forgive Yourself for Overspending
The first step to bouncing back from a period of unintentional spending is to accept what happened and then let that shit go. Life happens.
In the past, when I realized I overspent I would tell myself that I was simply bad with money and that budgeting was not going to work for me. I then gave up on budgeting all together only to try it again a few months later.
To get past this, I finally realized that one month of overspending did not mean I was not meant to be a budgeter. It meant that I simply needed to forgive myself and learn from what happened.
You can’t change the past. All you can do is learn from it. Therefore, don’t beat yourself up for having a bad budgeting month or two. It happens to all of us.
Reflect on What Happened
Take time to think about what happened or triggered the spending outside of your budget.
Did an unexpected expense pop up? Was it a particularly stressful month? Or did you simply spend more in one or more areas of your budget?
There are many reasons why we find ourselves spending outside of our budget. Acknowledging those reasons and taking the time to understand them will both help us forgive ourselves and, if necessary, figure out ways to prevent overspending in the future.
Reevaluate Your Budget
Sometimes when we find ourselves consistently overspending, all it means is that we need to take the time to reevaluate our budgets.
Maybe your priorities for your money changed and your budget no longer reflects those priorities.
For example, I often find myself overspending in categories such as clothing, but then also find that I have excess money in my household goods budget category.
When I take the time to look back at my spending habits over the past few months, I can see that maybe I am not allocating enough money for clothes and I may be allocated too much money for household goods.
After a period of overspending, take the time to look at your budget to make sure it’s still in line with your needs and goals for your money. Our lives are constantly in flux, so being flexible with your budget is key to managing this constant change.
Remember (or Find) Your “Why” for Budgeting
Why did you start budgeting in the first place?
Did you want to be debt-free? Did you want to save up for a vacation? Or did you want to feel in control of your money?
If you had a vision that motivated you to start budgeting, go back to that vision. Sit with it. Let that vision be your motivation to start spending intentionally again.
If you didn’t have a vision for what you wanted your life to look and feel like before you started budgeting, take time to do that now.
Having that vision will help you get back on the budgeting train.
If you need help figuring out your vision, check out this fun post on The TACO method! It’s a great guide to help you find your vision and priorites
Commit to Sticking to Your Budget
Budgeting is like forming any habit. It takes both inspiration and commitment to get it to stick.
Once you find your inspiration again through your vision, you then have to commit to that vision.
The commitment is the hard part. But without commitment to achieving that vision, getting back to intentional spending will be difficult.
So go ahead and recommit yourself to your vision and start feeling good about your budget again.
You Got This
Every budgeter has those months where budgeting is thrown to the wayside.
Life can take over and focusing on your budget simply doesn’t feel important. It’s easy to slip into old spending habits.
And that is ok.
Having a “bad” month or two (or three or four) doesn’t mean we failed as budgeters. It simply means we need to acknowledge what happened, learn from it, and recommit ourselves to our goals.
So get after it.
Use the steps above to help you get back on the budgeting train and take back control of your money.