If you have ever had a budget, you have probably gone over budget at one time or another. It's hard, things often happen and the budget spirals out of control. When our dog was sick a couple of years ago we had some high vet bills. The vet bills on their own would have been okay, however we were trying to ignore the fact our dog was sick and pretty much spent like crazy for a couple of weeks. By the end of the month we realized we had completely gotten off track.
So what to do when you go over budget? First of all, realize that it is okay. Budgets don't work perfectly 100% of the time. They often need adjusted and changed. Beating yourself up over it isn't going to help things. Then, sit down and take a look at your budget to see how you can fix it.
Whatever you do, don't bury your head in the sand about going over budget. I have done it plenty of times and trust me it doesn't work. Until you get back on budget stop spending money on anything that isn't a necessity. Food yes, that's a necessity. New fire pit? No, it's not. Yup, I actually bought a fire pit one time when I knew we were over budget. Crazy!
Borrow From Another Area
If you are just off track in one area, one of the easiest things to do is borrow from another. As long as the other category will be okay with less money this will work well. I do this all the time when we travel. I use grocery money for dining out. Because we aren't at home, the grocery money won't be used and can help out with the dining out expenses. Check out all of your different categories to see where you can take from to get back on budget.
Slash Your Grocery Budget
The grocery budget is a really easy place to cut back. Skip meats for a week and eat beans and rice. We once did potatoes for a week. It's not the healthiest, but for one week it probably won't kill you. 😉 I have a friend who cooks an egg with her ramen for a protein filled cheap meal.
Selling things is a great way to make money fast. Go through your house to see what you aren't using anymore. I am amazed with what I can come up with to sell. I like to sell clothes at resale shops, larger items on craigslist, and I even found a Facebook page in my area for small household items. Get rid of that bread machine you haven't used in two years and make some cash from it.
Evaluate to see if you need to adjust your budget. Was this a one time deal that won't happen again or are you going over budget month after month? I struggled with my grocery budget until I finally learned I needed to adjust it permanently. By evaluating and adjusting you can keep yourself from going over budget month after month.
Having a budget and sticking to it is a great way to reach your goals. However, there will be times that you will go over your budget. Finding the problem and fixing it will help get you back on track faster. What do you do when you go over budget?
Erin @ Stay At Home Yogi says
I feel like this happens almost every month lately! We do just about everything you have outlined here.
I love that you advised us to take a deep breath and chill out! This used to happen all the time at our house. We'd go over budget all winter long and then "catch back up" our savings when my husband got summer overtime. The biggest change that helped us was to do as you advise in your last point and admit that we needed to allocate more to groceries and take it away from somewhere else in the budget. We felt so much better when we weren't "failing" each month, and it wasn't hard to come up with cash from another area in the budget.
It's so easy to go over budget these days. We often sell stuff and stop spending. Our son isn't as into LEGOS anymore and wants to sell a bunch of them. We negotiated a split in profit if I do the listings and take the time to put complete sets together. Oh my! What have I gotten myself into?
We have so many lego sets my son doesn't use anymore. I know I need to go through and put together the sets, but it will be so time-consuming. Let me know if you figure out any secrets to make it go quicker.
Oh my! It's going to be a long, slow process! One set listed so far! I wish we had secrets!