Depending on the type of month you’re having, you’re probably in one of two situations.
If you’ve had a super-frugal (or even just super-well-budgeted) month so far, you’re probably a happy camper! You’re on target to hit your goals, opening your spreadsheet feels like no big deal, and you’re ready to keep on rocking your month-long challenge.
That’s not exactly in line with how you feel right now?
Me neither guys, don’t worry.
(If that is your experience, let me just sidebar and say WOOHOO and also I am so excited for you!)
I remember my first month tracking my spending, and it was right about this time of the month that I would have done anything to avoid continuing to track my spending for the rest of the month.
There were so many unexpected expenses in the first half of the month that by my second paycheque, I could see my hopes of hitting my savings goal waving goodbye as they frolicked off into the sunset along with my carefully planned budget.
That said, after going through this again and again and again, with unexpected expenses ranging from a $458 parking ticket to my snap decision to renew The Dog’s insurance, I’ve picked up a few different ways to handle the mid-month “Oh my god please don’t make me look at my spreadsheet” blues.
If you’re having them too, here they are. (Again, if you’re not – SO MANY KUDOS.)
#1. Don’t panic.
My first month tracking my spending, I was all
“How does anyone afford to live? How do I afford to live? I need to go get five side jobs yesterday.”
You totally don’t, especially if this is your first month tracking your spending. The only thing you should seriously worry about at this point in the month is making sure you’re keeping accurate records – put off any major decisions about changing your spending or your income for next month once you’ve had a bit of time to process.
#2. Adjust your goals.
There have been a few months where, near the end of the month, I’ve had to pull money out of savings that I had just contributed earlier that month. It sucked, I’m not going to lie, especially as I saw my savings percentage tick down even further away from my goal.
That said, it was the difference between running a credit card balance or ending the month with a balanced budget, so I adjusted and it was all good.
Even if you’re starting to see your goals slip away near the end of the month, it’s OK. You can and should give yourself permission to be flexible when life happens, and you can adjust the goals you set at the beginning of the month!
#3. Be OK with saying no.
There’s this thing that happens, especially in the last week of the month, when you’re tracking your spending.
You can so clearly see how much you’ve spent and how much you’ve saved, and the “leftover” amount is staring you in the face. Thanks to my aggressive savings goals, that leftover amount is never huge, especially as the days tick down towards the end of the month.
Having that kind of clarity has helped me say no to certain things and certain purchases, even in some cases where I might have wanted to say yes – an extra drink at the pub, etc.
But being OK with passing on those things might be the difference between withdrawing money from savings or not – so I did it, and you can too.
#4. Remind yourself of the good stuff you spent money on.
When you’re looking back at your spending, it’s easy to get caught up in “I shouldn’t have bought that latte” or “I really should have cooked at home instead of getting pizza.”
My biggest, best strategy for dealing with that kind of thinking is to focus on the wins. What was the best thing you spent money on? How did it make you feel? Did you value the experience or the need it satisfied? In the case of my $458 ticket (I’ll never be over it oh my god it was so expensive), did I learn a lesson from it?
Focus on the positive, and on the experiences and happiness your spending brought you. It’ll brighten up any spreadsheet, guaranteed.
That’s it for today, friends! I hope you’re having a killer Wednesday and that you’re totally over the time change havoc (I can’t be the only person who STRUGGLED to get up on Monday morning, right?)