The Secret to Finding Your Magic Money Number

Desirae OdjickBudgets, Emergency Fund, Lessons Learned, Saving1 Comment

How to find your magic money number

Hey friends! Since I’m still working through the Quick Budget Fix with the first round of students, today I want to introduce you to Alyssa from Mixed Up Money, AKA my internet money BFF. She is absolutely hilarious, and was kind enough to let me republish her amazing take on a different type of “emergency” savings – and how to figure it out for yourself.

Take it away, Alyssa!

Ah, your magic number. The mysterious dollar amount that keeps your savings account from turning into an “I went over budget on my entertainment spending – again” account over and over and over again.

For the past few months, I’ve been constantly on edge because I feel as though I don’t have enough of a cushion in my savings account. And sure, I bet some people would look into my bank accounts and think I’m crazy, whereas others would look at me and shout “Ooh girl, you really should be uncomfortable”.

Balancing overspending is one thing, but “over-saving” or “under-saving” issues can be much harder to adjust.

If you’re anything like me, you want to find a magic number that allows you to breath without feeling like a giant horse (idk guys) is sitting on your chest.

You want to be able to head out on a spur of the moment road trip to the mountains with your BFFs, and then complain about how much you hate mosquitos and your ability to burn in 2.6 seconds flat on the way home. Man, I miss summer.

Anyways – back to my point.

How do you know when you’ve saved enough money?

I think emergency savings accounts are boring. I avoid calling my emergency account anything similar. Instead, it’s labelled “Money to protect your other money. Oh, and also your reckless behaviour”.

Yeah, you better believe that fits on my online banking, who is now thinking “why did we ever let our clients name their own accounts?”.

Everyone knows (okay, almost everyone), that it’s recommended you save 3-6 months of your salary into a special account in case you lose your job, lose a limb, or lose your marbles.

But as someone who has saved 3 months of her salary, I find it’s not enough. It’s not enough to allow me to feel comfortable dropping an extra $100 at the grocery store of my regular budgeted income, so how can it be enough to sustain me in case I can no longer work?

I mean yes, maybe once I hit the 4-month mark, the 5-month mark, or the 6-month mark I’ll start to feel a little bit more comfortable. But what about right now? What can I do right now to help myself feel comfortable right this second?

That’s easy. By using the magic number!

In a separate account from my “Money to protect your other money. Oh, and also your reckless behaviour”, I save a smaller amount each month in an account called “Comfy Couch”.

And to find the magic number to fill my account, I did this:

AVERAGE SPEND PER MONTH ÷ SIX MONTHS = Your magic number

What’s in my “Comfy Couch” account for the months I overspend, under-save, or just plain fail at money?

$583

And that silly small number was all it took to make me feel comfortable. Whenever I need to use some of that money, I simply take it out, and refill the amount the next time I have available funds to do so.

The best part about the magic number? It’s a small milestone you can hit before you have to dive into the world of “Hey, here is 6 months of my hard earned money just sitting in an account all sad and lonely”.

If you want to figure out how much you actually need in your emergency account, Alyssa put together a handy calculator, which you can grab at the bottom of the original post here. And if you’re looking for more money hilarity in your life, you need need need Alyssa’ Youtube channel in your life.

I’ll be back next week with a giveaway to thank you guys for being so patient with me over the past few weeks! Cannot even wait!

Short-Term Financial Goals You Can Totally Crush This Year

Desirae OdjickGoals3 Comments

Short term financial goals you can still accomplish this year

Hey friends! I’m diving into the Quick Budget Fix with a group of pretty fantastic students right now, so for the next two weeks, I wanted to share some great posts from friends of mine who also happen to have blogs about money.

This week, I’m handing the mic over to Andrew from Family Money Plan – this post was originally published on his blog, but it really clicked with me, because omg, the year is more than 1/4 over!

If you’ve been looking for some financial goals you can still crush this year, here’s Andrew with a great list of ideas for ya.

If you’re like me, this year is moving pretty fast.

If you haven’t started on your money goals yet this year, maybe it’s time you set some short term money goals to get the ball rolling. Short-term money goals are any goals that can be achieved within a one year period. With a good chunk of time still left in the year, we can still set some good goals and get some momentum on our side.

If you are looking for more goals to set, or you want longer term money goals you should check out this post here that covers all of the financial goals you can set and how to achieve them.

Short Term Money Goals for Saving

Saving money goals boil down to 3 main things.

  1. Pick a goal to save up for.
  2. Create a separate account to put that money in.
  3. Start saving for that goal.

If you need some ideas of things to save for, here are a few you can use.

  • Start saving for Christmas gifts – Ok I know it’s still nice out, and nicer weather is on its way, but just like Game Of Thrones, Winter. Is. Coming. Start putting away some money to save you from gift pain down the road. You can read more about it here.
  • Open a retirement account. If you haven’t opened an retirment account. You should. The process of opening one up literally takes minutes online.
  • Open up a separate savings account. I’m repeating myself for a good reason. Most of us save thinking “I’ll just keep track in my head”. That has never worked for anyone ever…. Separate your saving goals into separate accounts. The goal can be for whatever you want it to be, travel, gifts, car repairs. Start by putting some extra money away every check so that you have a buffer to help you out when there is a financial pinch.
  • Start saving up to buy a home downpayment.
  • Start saving for your emergency fund.

Short Term Saving Goal: Start putting extra money away every month for something bigger down the road.

Short Term Money
Goals for Debt

Debt is like a terrible financial Netflix. You look at this picture and have no clue where to start or how you are ever going to get through it all. With it comes indecisions and then you are likely not to do anything. With debt the best thing to do is break it down.

Here’s some great short-term debt payoff goals.

  • Pick a debt to demolish. Either the smallest one, or the one with the highest interest rate.
  • Put some extra money down on your debt.
  • Wash, rinse, repeat until that debt is gone and then pick another one.

Short Term Debt Reduction Goal: Make an extra payment on one your debts (student loan, mortgage, credit card). Then do it again if you can, over and over.

Short Term Money
Goals for Spending Money

I don’t care who you are eventually you are going to have to spend some money. When you spend money the biggest thing is to be conscious of where you are spending your money. Pay attention to what you are spending your money on. Once you do that here are some short term spending goals you can crush.

  • Cut your grocery bills (Start using coupons. Shop only from a list. Buy generic)
  • Cut your transportation costs (Think driving less, maxing points, or using a co-op to get money back at the end of the year)
  • Cut your utilities spending
  • Eliminate bank fees
  • Cut other spending

Short Term Spending Money Goal: Start taking a more active role in your spending. Don’t just blindly buy the items you normally get. Look at the prices, compare places. Take the blinders off and start paying attention to what you are spending your money on.

Short Term Money Goals For Investing

Investing is a long term goal, but it’s made up of a few short term actions. If you can nail these actions and begin to automate them you will be set up for success down the road.

  • Learn about investing
  • Decide on one type of investment (stocks, ETF, real estate, small business, etc…)
  • Open an investing account
  • Buy your first investment
  • Start an automated investing program

If you are looking to get started investing you can check out our “How to get started with Wealthsimple” guide.

Short Term Investing Goal: Start investing, if you have already started, step up the investing consistently.

Short Term Money Goals for Earning Money

I believe most people should have a side job. But I’m not talking about just any side job. I’m talking about doing something you enjoy. Something that makes you want to stay up late or get up early to work on it a bit. Whether that’s your thing or not here are a few short-term money goals you can set for earning money.

Short Term Earning Money Goal: Start looking for ways to earn extra money. Make a goal of earning extra every month.

Other Short Term Money Goals

Here are some other ones that you can set for yourself. Some of these you can start right away others you may need to make a plan and then get going with it.

If you liked this post, make sure to grab Andrew’s Ultimate Financial Goals Checklist and Worksheets download, fo’ free, ASAP. That’s it for today friends – if you want to hear more from Andrew, you can also find him on Twitter and on Pinterest!

Two Big Problems With Budgeting Advice

Desirae OdjickBudgets1 Comment

Two big problems with budgeting advice - and how to fix them

You know that feeling when you read a really great piece of advice, and you’re totally fired up to put it into action and Change Your Life…

…and then by the end of the week, everything’s exactly the same as it was before?

Yeah, it’s not just for fad diets and fitness trends. It happens with budgeting too, and I know this from deeply personal experience.

The amount of times I would go into Mint, or pop open an Excel spreadsheet, and “plan my budget” based on an inspiring blog post or some bracing real-life money advice from a blogger, is too high to even admit.

Every time, like clockwork, I’d be inspired for about a week, but by the end of the month, my money situation was right back to normal.

I hadn’t saved more money.

I hadn’t cut my spending.

I was still buying lattes.

It turns out, the problem wasn’t (all) me. It was part of a bigger problem with budgeting advice.

Problem #1: It’s not personalized

Most budgeting advice is general, because it has to be. I’m as guilty of this as the next person, which you’ll know if you’ve used the One Minute Budget.

It’s literally a calculator to tell you what your budget should be, based on generally accepted numbers. It couldn’t be more general if it tried. (It tried really hard tbh.)

And don’t get me wrong, those generalizations are a great place to start, but unless you’re Suzy Normal, your spending, your likes, your dislikes and your goals aren’t going to be Perfectly Average.

You’ll have to do some tweaking – and yes, some work – to take those generalizations, figure out which ones fit for you and which ones don’t, and how you’re going to make all of the things you want to do fit into your monthly money situation.

It’s kind of like Tetris, but with dollars. And as we all know, Tetris is a game you lose pretty quickly if you do it on autopilot.

Problem #2: It’s not action-oriented

So if the generalizations aren’t going to work, and you need to take action to make your budget your own…

How do you do that? What’s the first step?

I remember this one assignment, back in university, that just baffled me.

I was totally lost in the class, to the point where when I sat down to try the first question in the assignment, I didn’t even know which part of the textbook to read first.

I was so confused by the whole thing, if we’re being perfectly honest, I dropped the class.

The same option isn’t really viable for your budget, since you can’t really drop “money” in your day-to-day life (and it would have some pretty major consequences if you did.)

But a lot of budgeting advice, especially in books and blogs, is focused on concepts and ideas – not concrete action steps. And when you do find concrete steps, like “how to start online banking” or “how to handle not hitting your money goals,” it’s usually not answers to “but how do I start budgeting though.”

And fun story: when you’re starting to build a budget that’s right for you, you shouldn’t start with the numbers anyways.

So if you’re wondering why budgeting has never really made a huge difference in your behaviour? These two reasons probably have a lot to do with it.

And if you’re (reasonably) wondering why you would even care about budgeting if there are so many issues with it, here’s why.

Budgeting is just making a plan for your money

Budgeting gets a pretty horrible rap, and deservedly, thanks to those two main factors. But at the end of the day, making a budget is just like planning out how you want to spend your time.

Sure, that probably includes things like commuting, and going to meetings you’d rather skip out on, but it also includes training for that half marathon, and planning a birthday lunch with a friend, and snuggling up with a good book once in a while.

As long as you have a plan to fit all those things into your schedule, you can make sure to balance the things you have to do with the things you really want to do.

And the same goes for budgeting.

It’s not some horrible ploy to make you give up the stuff you love to do, like your fancy gym membership or your books.

It’s just a step-by-step process to help you make sure you’re using your money to do as much of the things you want to do – short and long term – as you can, while still being all responsible and whatnot.

And that plan is what’s going to help you achieve all of your big goals.

Budgeting can help you afford that goal, too

You know, the one you think is wayyyy unattainable? Whether it’s a house, or an emergency fund, or a year off of work to travel the world, the first step to making it a reality is getting a handle on your money.

That’s what I built the Quick Budget Fix to help you do. (Yes, you.)

If you have a plan in place to spend your money in line with the things you really want, that goal all of a sudden starts to become possible – and your plan should give you a pretty clear view of when it’ll be possible for you, too.

And there’s no one with as much experience and knowledge about what you want than you – so you have everything you need to do this, even if you think you’re “bad at money.”

You’re not bad at money.

Just like I’m not inherently bad at making macarons – I just needed a bit of help actually implementing the recipe.

So if you think you might want a bit of help building that ideal money plan, to help you achieve your goals?

Check out the Quick Budget Fix checklist.

The course itself is closed (for now!) but you can still download the full checklist of steps you need to take to build a budget that works for you.

 

How To Build a Budget (Plus, Cookies!)

Desirae OdjickBudgets0 Comments

How to build a budget that actually works

I want to talk to you guys about how to build a budget, but first, I want to talk to you about cookies.

And trust me, it’s definitely about money, because these weren’t just any cookies.

They were maracons.

Yes, the fancy gorgeous ones that cost like $4 at the bakery. Each. 

How to build a budget, using cookies as the example.

There’s a hella good reason they cost so much money, too: They’re a combination of insanely finicky to make, and the main ingredient in the cookie is basically gold flakes ground almonds.

Which cost almost as much as gold flakes, if we’re comparison shopping here.

So anyways, I went through a phase a while back where I thought I was going to be the next Martha Stewart, so I took everyone’s warnings about how finicky maracons were to make with a hefty grain of salt, and a heaping cup of overconfidence.

“How hard could they really be?” I asked myself, having no respect for the bakers who had gone before me.

“It’s just following instructions!”

Which yes, it was.

It was just taking a list of steps (like this one that I put together for you, to help you build a budget) and implementing them, in the right order, at the right time.

So I went out, bought $30 worth of ground almonds (I WISH I WAS EXAGGERATING) and got to it.

Everything was going so well… until the cookies came out of the oven looking like they had suffered some kind of horrible indignity, and not like the smooth, glossy cookies of my Pinterest dreams.

So I re-read the instructions, reassured myself that this was a wholly surmountable obstacle, and tried again. (And you know I snacked on the ugly cookies so hard while I was at it. That was like $10 worth of almonds, you guys.)

And… drumroll please…

The same exact thing happened again.

It wasn’t until I had all but ruined $20 worth of perfectly good, and perfectly expensive, almond flour that I realized that I had skipped one crucial step.

See, when you make macarons, you need to let them sit out for 15 minutes after piping them onto the cookie sheets, so they can form a film on top. It sounds gross, but that’s what makes them come out glossy and Pinterest-perfect, and not cracked beyond all recognition.

That was the step I kept skipping, and that’s what was ruining all of my precious, precious almond flour.

I mean… cookies.

That’s the thing about recipes

It’s so easy to look at a list of instructions, and think that you’ll have no problem implementing them on your own. Hi, it’s like, how I lived my life for a very long time, and it (eventually) got me to some pretty impressive cookies.

But if I had just taken a baking class to begin with, some wise old French human in a white coat could have impressed upon me the importance of letting the dang cookies sit out to form a film.

It was not, surprisingly enough, an optional step.

And skipping over it again and again was a sure-fire way to not get the results I wanted, which in this case, was for everyone to admire what an effortless baker I was and how amazing my cookies were, while I smiled demurely and said “Oh, it was nothing.”

JK, I always admit when things were really hard to make.

The same thing applies to budgeting

Unsurprisingly enough, a lot of us do the same thing with money.

You might read a ton of money blogs, and books, and Twitter feeds, but implementing it?

Actually following the steps and getting them to work, without accidentally skipping the most important ones for you?

Well. That’s a different story altogether.

And that’s what the Quick Budget Fix is here to help you do, once and for all.

It’s the recipe (plus the the live, day-by-day support) you need to actually, once and for all, build a money plan that works for your life and your goals.

If you need to find extra money in your budget to fund your big goals, and you want to do that without going cold turkey on the stuff you like to do or buy?

Or you want a monthly spending-and-saving plan that lets you feel hella confident about where your money is going?

This is the step-by-step plan you need to make it happen.

How does the Quick Budget Fix work, exactly?

Excellent question, friend!

The Quick Budget Fix is a 20-day email course that starts on Monday, April 17th and ends on May 12th.

That’s right, you get weekends off.

Your Quick Budget Fix timeline to help you build a budget

Every day, you’ll spend between 10 and 20 minutes implementing a totally-doable next step in the budgeting process, using done-for-you worksheets and a spreadsheet that does all the math-related heavy lifting for you.

All you need to know is what you want to do with your money in an ideal world, and the course takes you through how to apply that to your real-life numbers and shape them into a plan that actually fits your life.

It goes day-by-day through things like figuring out all the big things you want to save for, to finding places to cut down your spending that you won’t actually miss.

Every step of the way, you’ll also have full support in our course Facebook group, where I’ll be available to answer any questions, and provide any extra materials, you end up needing during the course.

But… it’s closed (for now!)

 

Sadness factory: the Quick Budget Fix is closed for enrollment while I work through the lessons day-by-day with the students in this round of the course. Remember like three sentences ago, where I said I’d be available in the Facebook group to work through everything with people? That’s what I’m focused on for now, and then I’ll be revamping the course and updating it before the next launch.

But happiness factory: there will totally be a next launch!

In the meantime, grab a copy of the Quick Budget Fix checklist, which gives you every step you’ll need to take to build a budget that works for you. If you find you want a bit more support and accountability, plus all the tools you need to make it easy-peasy? You’ll be the first to hear when the next launch happens!

Can’t wait to budget with you guys! (I know, that may be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said, but it’s also true.)

Or, And, If: Three Magic Words for Your Budget

Desirae OdjickBudgets16 Comments

Or, and, if: Three magic words for your budget

Of all the things in the financial world that get a bad rap, budgeting is pretty far up there. Collectively, we’ve got some pretty skewed ideas of what budgeting is and isn’t.

Budgeting is restrictive.
Budgeting is about cutting back.

Budgeting isn’t going to let me drink lattes.
Budgeting isn’t going to be fun.
Budgeting isn’t going to work.

And like, *raises hand*, I have been there too, friends. My biggest budgeting misconception to date – and I’ve had to challenge it multiple times over the past two years, because it’s been so ingrained into how I think about money – is that budgeting is about “or.”

OK, explain yourself – what does that even mean?

When I talk about “or”, I’m talking about the ultimatums we give ourselves. Like,

“I can buy the latte OR I can be good at money.”
“I can keep my fancy gym membership OR I can be responsible.”

Basically, insert anything that you’ve wanted to do, and then end it with “or I can be A+ at money.” That’s a pretty normal reaction when it comes to thinking about your money and your monthly budget.

But it’s also the kind of thing that budgeting can totally debunk for you.

Here’s why we go directly to “or”

Money is this weird thing, because on a monthly basis, there really is only so much of it.

That limit – the amount of money you have to allocate to all the things you want – can change over time, but if you’re literally looking at “how much I have in my account to make it through this month,” it’s a fairly fixed number most of the time.

That means that yes, in some situations, there will be real “or” choices you have to make.

“Oh, I can literally afford car insurance OR a car payment, but not both? Guess I’m buying my car in cash then.”

But the amount of “or” choices that are truly based on the limitations of our monthly money situation are few and far between.

And there are way more “and” conversations that you can have if you’re clear on your budget.

OK, so what’s “and” all about?

Let’s flip some of those pesky “or” statements around, and look at how much better they sound.

“I can drink my latte AND be great at money.”
“I can keep my fancy gym membership AND be responsible.”

And let’s go even further with it.

“I can save for retirement AND take my dream vacation.”
“I can buy a house AND build a business.”
“I can save up an emergency fund AND keep drinking my lattes.”

Whoa whoa whoaaaaaa. Is this just me getting crazy? No.

This is what happens when you get crystal clear on your budget, and have a rock-solid plan in place for how you want to spend your money in a given month.

Stop giving yourself ultimatums

One of the biggest reasons I hear about why people don’t want to build a monthly plan for their money (ahem, a budget) is that they’re stuck in the “or” mentality.

They don’t want to sit down and take a hard look at how they’re spending and saving their money, because if they did, they’d find a whole pile of “or” statements that they’d really rather not deal with.

But if you go in, fully prepared to figure out how to replace your “or” statements with “and” statements, even if you’re not entirely sure how you’ll be able to do it just yet?

Well. That’s a different experience altogether.

What you really need to find are the “if”s

Oh my god Desirae, can you be done with the weird word things already?

Nope. Can’t stop me, this is my blog.

So with all of this lovely-dovey mindset talk, you might be sitting there like, “AHA! I’ve found the flaw in this wordplay – there’s no way I can afford the Maserati AND the Louboutins!”

Which like, are two very differently priced items, but I don’t know many luxury brands, OK?

But in theory, you’re right.

If you only have so much money to work with in a month, you can’t “and” your way into a lifestyle that’s way beyond your means. Anyone who tells you differently has gone off the deep end, and you should kindly gift them a calculator sometime.

The “and” approach works when it’s focused on making sure that you’re not eliminating something you really want from your life, in the name of money.

You can definitely afford your priorities, and the best way to make sure you can is by harnessing the last magic word: “if”.

“I can save for retirement AND take a dream vacation IF…”

What that “if” will be looks very different depending on who you are, how much money you need to find to make it happen, and what you care most about.

It could be…

“…IF I compare my car insurance rates and save $40 a month without even trying.”
“…IF I sign up for a travel rewards credit card and can use the miles to cover the flight.”
“…IF I scale back to two pub nights a month, not ten.”

No one can decide your “and”s and “if”s for you

If you’re up in arms right now, shaking your fist at the screen that I DARE suggest you scale back on your beloved pub nights…

Well, that’s exactly why I can’t budget for you.

For all the experts in the world, who have all kinds of expert advice on how to do money (ahem, guilty) there’s only one person who’s an expert in what you want to do with your money.

It’s you.

On the plus side, that means you know everything you need to know to build a monthly money plan that works for your life, “and”s very much included.

On the down side, it means that no one else can really do the work for you.

So where should I start?

Listen, there are no magic bullets here (magic words, sure, but those don’t usually kill people) but I do have a good place you could start.

Next week, I’m going to be launching a budgeting course called the Quick Budget Fix.

It might be right for you! And it might be totally wrong for you! But there’s a quick way you can find out.

I’ve made the entire course outline, and all 20 steps we’ll walk through during the course, into a one-page checklist of the steps I recommend you take to figure out a monthly money plan that works for you.

And you can get it for free, right now.

Magic words for your budget

The course is currently closed for enrollment, but if you want to take the checklist and run with it? Nothing would make me happier. Go build your best budget, boo.

If you think you might want a bit more support actually Doing The Things, with spreadsheets and worksheets and a whole community full of people (plus meeeeee) to support you through the process?

You’ll be the first to find out when the course opens again for another round of budgeting awesomeness!

Cheers to budgeting for “and,” not just “or,” friends! *literally sips latte*

I Went Over Budget This Month (And What To Do If You Did, Too)

Desirae OdjickBudgets, Spending24 Comments

If you went over budget this month, here's how to handle it.

Well, as you probably guessed from the title, I went over budget this month. Like… way over budget.

Like over-$800-in-two-budget-categories over budget. Surprise!

Went over budget this month? Here's what to do about it.

I’d like to thank the academy, buying a house, and purchasing my ticket to Fincon 17 plus my plane ticket to and from Dallas.

In all seriousness, the only two budget categories I went over in were actually “House Stuff” and “The Blog,” so it really was just those two things.

Luckily (I guess?) they both happened early on in the month. I say luckily, because it gave me plenty of time to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to hit my savings goal this month, and plenty of time to figure out how I was going to make this absurdly spendy month work.

If you’re staring down – or wrapping up! – a spendy month of your own, here’s exactly what I did to make it through the month relatively unscathed, and on track to still save ~40% of my income.

Sure, it’s not 50%, but it’s still 40% get off my lawn.

I had a budget in the first place

I was the most resistant budgeter, you guys. I bought into every argument you can think of against budgeting, including the fact that as long as you track your spending, you don’t really need a budget.

Except.

Ahem.

I’m going to have to claim defeat on this one, because having a budget – aka a plan for how I want to spend and save my money every month – is the only reason I didn’t go even further over my budget this month.

See, when you know that you can spend $100 guilt-free on house stuff every month, you also know that spending $900 on house stuff alone is going to seriously eff up your monthly money plan. Those are both good things, by the way, but they’re not things I would have known if I didn’t have that ballpark number in the first place.

Plus, back to the guilt-free thing for a hot second: Being able to spend money guilt-free because you’ve planned for it is basically the best thing in the whole wide world, I highly recommend it.

PS. If you know you need a budget, but you hate the idea of cutting out all the stuff you love to do? I’m working on something behind the scenes that you are going to l-o-v-e. I’m just saying. 

I knew I went over budget

So yes, sadness factory, budgeting isn’t the only thing you need to do. Welcome to adulting, where there’s never just one easy step, right?

After getting the whole “here’s where my money is going to go” plan in place, I made sure I kept tabs on where my money was actually going. That’s right, I tracked my spending, just like I’ve been doing for the past 18 months.

It sounds horrible until you get used to it, I know, but here’s everything you need to know to get started, and also it’s really not that bad.

So anyways, that’s how I knew I had gone so drastically into the deep end of over-my-budget, so early in the month. That knowledge – literally just “Oh shoot, this is definitely happening and it’s not looking good” – was incredibly helpful.

I figured out if it was going to be a regular thing

There are some categories of your budget that are going to feel almost eerily consistent and immovable. For me, that’s my food budget. Try as hard as I might, I’m just too stuck in my routine, the recipes I like to make and the stores I shop at to meaningfully move the needle on our monthly food budget. At most, I can shave like… $50 off of it, tops.

So if you’re going over budget in a category like that, whatever it is for you, you’ll need to consider that maybe – just maybe! – the problem isn’t your spending, it’s your plan. You might just need to plan on spending more money on that thing.

However, if your month was anything like mine, you might have spent $538 on a home inspection that you hope never to repeat! That right there is an expense you do not need to factor into your budget.

But if you bought something like a plane ticket to Fincon, and you hope to make that a regular annual thing? That should end up worked into your budget as an irregular expense you save for.

… *literally opens up spreadsheet to adjust things as I am writing this*

I scaled back on other purchases and categories

I’ve got another few days to go with this month’s budget tracking spreadsheet, but when I look at it right now, I can easily see that as a grand total, I’ve gone over budget by $1620.20 if you look at my housing and blog expenses. (Omg.)

But if you look beyond the glaring red auto-highlights of those two sections (thanks Google Sheets, ily too) I can also see that I’m a whopping $692.69 under budget in all my other budget categories.

This is one of those “ugh, of course” moments, but for real: If you have the information that you’re going to go over budget this month, it becomes a lot easier to make decisions that will keep you under budget in categories you can control.

Sure, it’s the least fun option of all of these actions steps (and you thought tracking your spending was no fun) but scaling back to accommodate going over budget in a specific category is an awesome way to avoid total financial catastrophe.

I told my peeps that I needed to scale back

Being able to say “I’m way over budget this month, and it’s stressing me out a little bit” isn’t easy for everyone, unless you’re as awkwardly open about money as I am. (If you are, let’s hang out. Can you imagine the shenanigans? Actually, I guess that’s literally Fincon in a nutshell.)

When I realized that I was subconsciously holding my breath every time I looked at my budget, and was eyeing every new purchase warily, I told people about it. Specifically, my people, aka my boyfriend and my friends. I let them know that I was feeling a bit iffy about my budget this month, thanks to some major expenses, and where possible, would love to opt for experiences and hang-outs that cost somewhere in the realm of nothing.

And, in news that will surprise maybe no one, they were so cool about it. Seriously, as tough and awkward as it can feel in your head to own up to wanting to save some money and be a bit more frugal for a while, people are not going to be internet trolls to your face! Especially not your people.

They love you, and they will continue to do so even if you can’t get the latte with the gold flakes on top of it. (That’s not a thing but like, what do people eat that’s expensive these days? My favourite restaurant is a pho place you guys. I’ve got nothing.)

So if you’re staring at your end-of-month spreadsheet or budget tracking app, literally counting the minutes until you can put this garbage-budget month behind you? I’m right there with you friend.

Until then, let’s all remember that…

  • we’re ahead of the game if we even have a budget in the first place,
  • we can’t go too far off the deep end if we’re tracking our spending,
  • we’ve got a plan to handle this if it’s going to be a regular thing,
  • we’ve scaled way the eff back on non-necessities, and
  • we talked to our people about all of this.

(And if you haven’t done those things, most of them will make getting to the end of the month without burning your spreadsheet to the ground way easier.)