5 Ways to Get Back on Track with Your Budget

Listen, sometimes we make our budgets for the month, then life just happens. We’re so proud of ourselves for making a solid budget, then you need new tires. You’ve managed to budget in an extra debt payment to a credit card, then *BOOM* an unexpected bill pops up.

Sometimes our budget goes into the mud, and if you’re human like me, it’s very easy to just say “Oh well, I’ll try this budget thing again next month”. I will say this, you are not alone, but also, there are ways for us to get back on track after the unexpected happens. We don’t have to live in this loop! 🙂

Keep reading to learn 5 ways you can get back on track with your budget:

#1 Be Gentle with Yourself

Something that I’m working on is showing myself more grace. As I previously said, if unexpected expenses happened (especially early in the month), I would just check up the deuces and give up. I would immediately just numb myself by spending more money that I didn’t have.

After doing some inner work, and working with Raya, I realized that punishing myself with putting my budget more in the red, wasn’t benefitting my future self. I had to change my mindset and show myself some financial self-love by being gentler with myself and forgiving myself for past financial mistakes.

This meant that had to change the way that I talked to myself and not tell myself that I was always going to be bad with money, or always be in debt. I had to learn to say things like, “This month wasn’t the best, but I learned something that I needed to learn”. I only started real budgeting about a year and a half ago, and I will continue to get better at it.

#2 Immediately Stop Spending

Ok, so an unexpected expense happened, or you went over in one of your categories in your budget (and there’s still a lot of month left), what do you do now? Well, if it isn’t a bill, immediately stop spending! The only sure way to get back on track with your budget is to STOP adding to the spending damage.

#3 Consider Creating Sinking Funds or a Buffer in Your Budget

Something I had to accept was that my budget needed to have some flexibility because, again, life happens. When I say buffer in your budget, basically I mean, adding a bit more money to a certain category in your budget that may fluctuate each month. For me, I always add a bit more money to my car expenses (which include repairs) and my eating-out categories.

Also, sinking funds can be a life-saver! Of course, we here at CGS are big on saving, but a lot of people don’t utilize sinking funds in their budget. A sinking fund is basically money set aside every month to cover a future expense. I actually need to utilize these more myself, but I know a lot of people in the CGS community have several sinking funds for different things so that they are able to cover an unexpected, or expected recurring expense.

#4 Shop Your Stash

So, let’s say that you have an unexpected car repair early in the month, but you still need to buy groceries for the rest of the month. I encourage you to really see what you already have in your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry before making your shopping list. Get creative with your meals for a week, you may surprise yourself with what you create in the kitchen with the food you already have at home!

I have been doing this a lot lately! I’m also in the process of getting back on track with my savings and debt snowball plan, so not only do I shop my stash with my groceries, but also with my makeup/skincare, clothes, and toiletries. For me, this was due to my recent conversion to the minimalist-ish lifestyle that I wrote about and seeing I truly had enough.

#5 Create or Revisit Some Financial Goals

Because we’re humans, sometimes life takes us off track with whatever we’re working towards. Like wanting to lose a certain amount of weight, working towards a raise or promotion at work, or wanting to work for ourselves full-time. Whenever we get off track, what is the best thing to do? Revisit your ‘why’ and remember why you want to achieve the goal in the first place.

When it comes to getting back on track with your budget, perhaps ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do you want in savings this time next year?
  • If you didn’t have debt, what would you do?
  • What do you want your dream life to look like?
  • What can I cut back on to save $100/month?
  • Is this expense a need or an impulsive want?

I know those questions are deep, but I encourage you to journal these questions on paper to help you remember your “why” and get down to the root of your money mistakes. This way you can learn from them, and then make better choices. These questions are meant to recenter yourself and remember why you are on this financial journey in the first place.

Related: 5 Ways to Practice Financial Self-Care

I hope this article encourages you to stay the course with budgeting, saving, or whatever financial goals are helping to achieve your rich life! Remember, you’re not alone on this journey, as even the most money-savvy person has gotten off-track from time to time. We’re in this together!

If you’re a proud member of the CGS Community, drop some love and comment below! Stay connected with us via our IG @citygirlsavings and join the tight-knit online community via our City Girl Savings Facebook Group.

Love podcasts?! Listen to the City Girl Savings podcast featuring our very own Founder/CEO, Raya Reaves, as she covers topics to help us City Girls live the life that we deserve!

-Lena
The CGS Team
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