When Your Budget Plans Go Off the Rails

After a stellar January, we really blew it with our budget in February. Some of the expenditures were avoidable, some weren’t, but it’s safe to say that we blew our budget plans big time in February. Some of the “happenings” that occurred that caused us to spend more than we planned included:

  • dinner out for my mom and stepdad after we spent the day helping them following a car accident in which my mom slid off the road and into a tree (she’s fine, praise God) $43
  • An unplanned outing when my nephew called last minute (he’s 9) and asked us to attend his basketball game and join him for lunch. $47 for tickets and lunch out
  • new jeans and shirts for my two youngest girls when they went on super sale – $42.90
  • extra propane to heat the house – we had an unexpected super cold snap – $375
  • Some unexpected house repairs – $208.14

These may not seem like huge overages to some, but for those on a mission to get out of debt, this is a lot of cash.

Although we had the cash to pay for all of this stuff, it still bugs me when we go over budget, but it happens. I could justify our overages all day long, but a better idea is to make a plan for recovering from the bust. Here’s our plan to recover from the budget plans we wrecked this month.

Be Crazy Frugal in March

Yep, it’s already on the books. We WILL NOT spend unplanned in March for non-necessities. We’ll work hard to keep the grocery budget on task – even with our juicing – and avoid spontaneous purchases.

Look for Extra Income

I have come across some freelancing opportunities that I might have otherwise passed by, but because I want to make up for last month’s overages, I’ll be taking those jobs. Rick will also be working overtime whenever asked (although he pretty much does that anyway).

Forgive Ourselves

Budget busts happen. As long as you’ve got a plan for recovery and haven’t justified the overages in a way that means you’re destined to repeat them, go ahead and forgive yourself, Move on. Just do better next time.

Financial responsibility is important. Debt freedom means you have the time to do what you want to do. However, money is not the end all, be all of life. Loved ones and loving yourself in a healthy way tops money. Remember that. πŸ™‚

Make Plans to Avoid Future Budget Busts

Another great way to recover from trashed budget plans is to make plans to avoid future budget busts. In our cash, we’ll cushion our slush fund a bit more so that budget bust monies can come out of the slush fund when needed.

How do you recover when your budget goes off the rails?


25 comments on “When Your Budget Plans Go Off the Rails

  1. This is something that always bugged me. A wedding would come up or a shower or something likewise, and maybe that’s not a big deal to a lot of people, but when you’re on a tight budget like we were, it was an enormous hit. So then it’s judgment from other people that we worry about rather than our own financial well-being. Great post Laurie. Your positive kick butt attitude is inspiring. Best wishes going forward! πŸ™‚

  2. The first step is to identify and stop the behavior that causing the issue. Understanding that sometimes the unexpected is understandably going to hit you. We try and avoid letting having a bad week or month get us down or discouraged and perpetuate the behavior for a longer period of time. I love the tip about seeking out extra income. Such a great motivator. Good luck Laurie and fam.

  3. Ugh, I feel ya here. We bought a house in the fall and that meant several months of budgeting went off the rails. It’s so hard to plan, especially during tumultuous life events. We managed to recover and had a wonderful January. It sucks because once the money’s gone it’s gone. The only thing you can do is move forward and learn from it. We used our spendy months as a way to further evaluate our expenses, which helped us cut even more out of the budget.

  4. I understand the frustration! It can make you feel like you’ve gotten completely off track. It’s just a matter of getting back up, dusting yourself off and then getting back to it. And it sounds like you have a great plan for that too! I wish you the best for March!!!

  5. Whenever my budget goes off the rails, I just look at it and see if it was “me induced” or something unexpected. If i’ts “me” that’s the issue, I dial it back and quit buying stupid stuff I probably don’t need anyway until things recover. If it’s unexpected, I just roll with it and still dial things back until things swing back into my favor.

    If it’s a little of both, ugh… Regardless, it always involves dialing it back the next month like you already are planning on doing.

  6. My focus is on this line, “Although we had the cash to pay for all of this stuff . . .” Look back a few years, and tell me if you ever had cash to pay for the unexpected? Your unexpected expenses added up to over $600, and you had cash to pay for it. I call that a good sign! Still frustrating, but a sign that you should keep on sticking to the stuff you’re sticking to now – because when the unexpecteds work in your favour, you’ll zoom ahead way more than you feel you’ve fallen behind now.

    1. Great point, Ruth. Yeah, it did feel good knowing we had the cash, but we’re still looking forward to a less expensive March. πŸ™‚

  7. I agree with Ruth; the fact that you had the cash to pay for these expenditures is awesome in and of itself Laurie! πŸ™‚ Yes, in March we also will be tightening the purse strings. Solidarity my friend!

  8. Life happens, that’s for sure, and having financial stability at least allows you to weather those events without going into debt. I know it can slow down debt payoff but that is better than going into further debt. It sounds like you have a great approach for next month–spending less, earning more.

  9. You made a great point, we need to forgive ourselves and move on! God knows sometimes things just gotta get paid for. Every time we goof off, we make it a point to cut back on something next month on order to make up for the “loss.” But the great thing about it is that we don’t let it become a habit! Thanks for the post.

    1. We do that too!! I think it works well. Extra discipline to cover for prior overspending makes it up from a monetary standpoint and a disciplinary standpoint as well. Thanks for the comment!

  10. Oh a bust in the budget always makes me feel uneasy, but with my family I almost always have to factor in some sort of life event to attend. Coming from a large family, I totally understand your budget break. When it comes to your parents, nephew, and your own kids there is always extra money being spent that was not factored into the budget.

    Yes, although you broke the budget you probably all enjoyed your time at the basketball game and at lunch. I always look at the memories that were made or the good times that we had with family as a ease to the frugal soul. Good luck in March!!!

    1. So true, Addi! Yeah, I feel like some of the expenses were worth it. Taking my parents out after their accident was such a blessing to them, as was us attending my nephew’s game. Some things are worth more than money. πŸ™‚

  11. My budget’s about to go off the rails big-time due to some messed up dental care, house repairs that won’t stay repaired, a little clumsiness (I tripped and damaged our laptop), and a few other problems. Unfortunately, my first step is to get annoyed, really annoyed. Once I’m done with a brief pity party, it’s time to figure out what needs to be done first and the best way to pay for it. This will definitely put a dent in my plans, but I’m fortunate that I can find ways to cover it between savings, cutting back, and extra income.

    1. Oh no!! Gary, you can do it – I know you can. Thank God for savings, but attitude is a major part of it too. Way to go!

  12. I love that you always put family first. In the overall plan, that means paying off debt as fast as possible. But in the right here and right now, it means lunch and baseball πŸ™‚

  13. There’s small derailments & big derailments, thankfully there are more small ones than big ones. Glad to hear your mom is fine.

    Our January was unexpectedly expense, partially because we had overlooked some start of the year expenses & found some super good post-Christmas deals for things we were going to buy for full price later this year.

    We did a “no-spend” February that worked out sorta ok, but, like you, my wife & I took on additional work as short-term side hustles seems to be the most effective trick after you’ve cut your regular budget as much as possible. Thankfully we had the spare time & the availability of additional work opportunities as well. I couldn’t have found the extra work a month or two ago.

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