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!
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.
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.)