Friday, January 31, 2014

Budgeting: When Things Go Wrong

So, you all know how much I love talking about budgeting and living within your means. And I think you like reading about it too! Which makes me really excited to keep talking about it. But I have a confession.

For the past three months, I have failed to follow my budget.

Gasp! Choke/Cough. Yikes! Eek! WHAT?? Not YOU.

I know. Let me explain.

It's in just one area of our finances. Can you guess? It's groceries. I have failed month after month to keep our grocery bill within my allotted amount. I mean, I've gone over it on a regular bases by not just $5 or $10 but by $50 to $150 . . . every month. I'm not even kidding.

"How is this possible?" you ask. I started using our credit card instead of just the cash in my wallet. And, I've been home a lot more with my darling little baby boy . . . eating a ton more than I used to (yes, breastfeeding is worse than pregnancy when calories are concerned). It also took me a while to get back into the grove of weekly menu planning and list making according to sales and coupons.

And it all adds up fast. There was the gluten free snacks, the cereal sale I stocked up on, the trail mix and nuts that we've added to our yogurt since I haven't been making my granola lately . . . the list goes on. Don't forget wine and beer, too!

Now, before you go off and mail me money, let me tell you that we're okay. We just had to dip into our savings a little bit. We are sad to do this as it was not how we initially planned to spend our money. But tomorrow when we sit down to do our February budget, we'll recalculate just how much we need to spend on groceries, and stick to it! We need it to be realistic, and face the fact that our needs have changed.

And that is the important part! That you adjust your budget to be realistic and accurate. Regularly. A budget is worthless if you continue to ignore the red. But if you keep your eye on things and recalculate and reallocate your funds when necessary you'll continue to be in control of your money (and your money won't control you).

When things go wrong (you overspent, or had a life change or an emergency. . . or had a spontaneous vacation in Hawaii), don't let it stop you from financial success. Sit down, look at the numbers and make cuts or additions as needed. The sooner you make the changes the better.

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