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

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.)

Desirae is on a mission to demystify and un-boring financial info for millennials, so that we can all save more money, spend on stuff that matters to us, and still have a latte or two along the way. Money is literally why we can have nice things, and Desirae is committed to helping make sure you know just enough to make the right calls for you. (She’s also committed to her expensive dog, her side hustle, and her retirement fund.)

24 Comments on “I Went Over Budget This Month (And What To Do If You Did, Too)”

  1. Colin @rebelwithaplan

    The cost of the inspection isn’t as bad as I would have thought. When my mom and her husband bought their new house, they had to spend almost $900 on an inspection.

    I’m so pumped for FinCon17, in my home state of Texas! Are you staying at the conference hotel or somewhere else?

    1. Desirae

      !!!! $900? I would have passed out.

      And staying at the hotel with some amazing roommates! (Speaking of, I need to book that in April, lol.) How about you?

      1. Colin @rebelwithaplan

        Debating whether or not to stay at the conference hotel. I didn’t stay in it last year since I didn’t decide to go to FinCon until 3 weeks before it started, haha.

        This year I think I will!

  2. Casey

    I think you are too hard on yourself and youre too fixated on 50%. Im sure if you average out your savings over a year you are much closer.

    Plus money is a tool meant to be spent. You work hard so you can afford things like FinCon and a home inspection without breaking into a cold sweat over paying bills!

    1. Desirae

      Hahaha oh Casey, thank you so much, because 100% yes – I am those things (too hard on myself and too fixated on a monthly number.) It probably doesn’t help that I’m more stressed out right now than I think I may ever have been in my life thanks to the house stuff (not living at home + waiting on it to sell is seriously unsettling!) So you’re right – totally could be a bit more gentle to myself.

  3. Robb Engen

    I find it more useful to budget (or forecast spending) on an annual basis rather than a monthly basis. This way when those one-off major expenses (travel, house insurance, Xmas gifts) happen I can keep an eye on the bigger picture (annual goals) and know that I’ll make up for it in other months. Sort of like amortizing that payment over 12 months instead of freaking out in the month that the expense occurs.

    1. Desirae

      Honestly, I think I need to start doing that! Because you’re exactly right – there will be some super-chill months and some spendy months, but it will all balance out in the end. I think I’ll probably stick to monthly for now and work on an annual budget for next year! (Especially once we get a better sense of house costs!)

      You know, you’ve got pretty good advice Robb. You should like blog about money or something 😉

      1. AB

        This is how I do it. It gives me some peace of mind – even if I have a big expense in one category one month, I know it’ll even out over the year. It’s more rooted in tracking my spending (and using those past trends to project future spending) than divvying up the pie each month (because omg no). This year I’ve more proactively saved the leftover in specific categories – e.g. I didn’t spend a tonne on house and garden this month, so I’ll allocate some savings to that category as I know I’ll be buying seeds and seedlings soon enough!

  4. Megan

    I also went way over budget this month, because I went cross country for a week and visited my parents for the first time since I moved away (almost 8 months ago). Between not working for a week and eating out almost every meal, it hurt my budget a bit. But I’ve gotten back on track during the last half of the month and I don’t regret enjoy my “vacation.”

    1. Desirae

      Oh my gosh yes! Of course you should feel fantastic about your vacation, that sounds amazing – I did something similar last August and it was money well, well, well spent!

  5. OIivia

    Ahh I did the same thing! Between starting therapy again (which is out of my health insurance network), having to purchase kitchen supplies of my own after finding out my roommate is relocating, and feeling ~spendy~ at the bars on St. Patricks, I SCREWED myself this month. I’m trying to not feel too guilty because 2/3 are necessary costs I didn’t think I would have to budget for, but it’s still stressful.

    1. Desirae

      I’ll echo some of the things people have said to me in saying this, but those sound like totally reasonable expenses! (And honestly, I’d cut yourself some slack for St. Paddy’s too, haha). It is definitely stressful, especially adding the last few days of expenses as we wrap up the month (cereal costs FIVE DOLLARS?!) but I think we both did the best we could with the month we had 🙂

      Also, April is happening SO SOON! As great as annual budgeting can be, I love me a fresh start.

  6. Michelle

    You may be a bit hard on yourself! I’ve put myself on a fairly restrictive budget with the end goal of a house downpayment (in Metro Vancouver…) and a wedding. My eating out budget has been shaved down to a mere $100/mo because I’d much rather cook at home where my food costs are cheaper, but I blew that out of the water for March because I forgot about a couple birthdays, so I adjusted. I find that budgeting allows me to be more flexible while being more responsible. I use YNAB for my budgeting, it helps a lot.

    1. Desirae

      Hahaha honestly, I hadn’t even realized how hard I was being on myself until other people read this! But yes, definitely – it’s been a good wakeup call for sure, and I definitely am being a bit too rough! (And omg forgotten end-of-month birthdays are my nemesis! Especially since I’m not ever going to NOT celebrate a birthday because of hitting some arbitrary number – that’s too far, even for me, lol.)

  7. Kira

    I feel like this is just what I needed to read today 🙂 Lately it feels like most months are like this – I’m getting married in July and although we have a separate fund for wedding related expenses it always seems like something unforeseen pops up… I think the hardest part for me was talking to my peeps about money (or the lack there of) but, like you said, once I did they were totally understanding. Especially considering the wedding coming up right away.
    I am still working on scaling back spending where I can (so hard when my NHL team is about to make the playoffs, yay!) but, I’ve resigned to allowing myself a few breaks here and there as long as the big yearly picture is on track.
    Still, as always, I am in awe of your savings and hope to be there one day 🙂

    1. Desirae

      Awww Kira thank you so much for the kind words, and I’m so glad to hear it was a helpful read! Honestly, sometimes there are just a string of months in which life just. keeps. happening. and all you can really do is be aware, mindful and accept that if your expenses really just are that high, that it’s a season and in line with where you want your money to be going! Not going to lie, I can picture a zillion different futures in which I either have lower income or different priorities where my savings percentage will take a nosedive… but as long as that’s what I plan to be doing with my money, that’s cool beans with me. A wedding seems to fall squarely into the cool-beans category – congratulations!!

  8. Leigh

    I budget annually which means I don’t worry about it if one month is more expensive than others, so long as each category is tracking okay for the year. We are doing pretty well with our joint budget, but I’m pretty sure my share of the wedding costs is leaving me with not enough cash flow to pay for my necessary discretionary expenses, like barre classes, running shoes when they wear out, etc. So one of my projects right now is figuring out whether my budget is too small (aka unrealistic) and I should figure out how to allow myself to sell *some* investments or if I am really capable of sticking to the budget. It’s been a good experiment no matter which of those directions it ends up going though.

    I really recommend the annual budget! It is a huge, huge help. We have one month’s expenses in checking to help as a buffer if you have a lot of expenses at the beginning of the year and otherwise, it’s great. Property taxes, travel, insurance, and house maintenance are all fixed but lumpy expenses, which an annual budget is SO helpful with!

    1. Desirae

      I definitely need to try it – it’s funny, on one hand the monthly budgeting can stress me out, but on the other… I get a fresh start 12 times a year! Do you have any advice on staying on track over the 12 month period? Like… what if you spend your budgeted amount on a hobby by month 8 and then something comes up? (I guess it’s the same adjustment as monthly, but I don’t know, something about annual feels “bigger” in some way? Like you can’t move stuff around as much? Whatever, I’ll definitely try it, lol.)

      1. Katelynne

        This is my biggest question on the annual budget too. I’m in the same boat as you Des – March was a mess. Not like “just bought a house” mess but I feel like if I had to continue after the way March went I would be *SO* defeated. Like April 1st! I get to restart! And in my mind that makes things so much better.

        Leigh, how do you end up adjusting from a particularly spendy month (or season or whatever) when things you predicted are over or things come up that you don’t forsee with an annual budget? I just got used to leaving myself a big enough buffer in my budget MONTHLY – I can’t imagine doing it annually though I think it would be more productive. I get annual goals but I don’t understand operating an annual budget for non-house expenses (because those seem to be on autopilot thankfully) – any advice?

  9. Sarah @ Smile & Conquer

    I’m not sure how many times I blew our ‘house’ budget after we first bought our place but I can guarantee it was more than once. Who am I kidding…we’ve been in our place for almost 7 years and it still happens! Being able to cut back in other areas is key, and sometimes you just have to let things slide and think of how awesome you’ve been in other months.

    1. Desirae Odjick

      Hahaha yup, even just watching my poor boyfriend be like welp, the air conditioner needs to be replaced, bye $3000, has helped me realize that house spending budgets are more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast category, lol. I’m going into it fully prepared that for a while, it might be the death of my savings rate – but honestly, a big part of the savings was to work towards exactly this outcome, so I’m cool with it!

  10. Brittney @ Britt & the Benjamins

    I agree with Sarah – I’ve blown my house budget more times than I can count. Like that one time my lawn mower got stolen. Or when my entire HVAC decided to die a quick death.

    I think as long as you’re aware and can adjust your other expense categories like you did, it’s absolutely fine to get away from your budget every once in awhile. I always say that if all it sets me back is one month to getting to my goal, it’s worth it. As long as those one month increments don’t add up to 12 😉

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