So You Failed in Your Monthly Budget, Now What?

We’ve come into the beginning of April and it’s easy to see some of those goals that we made back in January fall to the wayside as we push toward summer. For those of us who are still working hard at our goals, it’s becoming a bigger struggle to stick to what we know is right with all of the temptations around us.

Or maybe it’s just me?

Based on conversations I’ve had recently, though, I don’t think so. My guess is that if I got the opportunity to sit down with you right now you’d say that last month was hard, especially when it came to whatever financial goal you are working toward.

So You Failed in Your Monthly Budget, Now What?

Today I’m going to spend some time talking about failure. Even if you haven’t dealt with that feeling of failure yet in the pursuit of your current goal, you will at some point in time and it’s important to know what to do and how to move forward in that situation.

Give Yourself Some Grace

Okay, you failed.

You didn’t meet your savings amount for the month, pay off the right amount of debt, overspent on your grocery budget, or just simply didn’t meal plan at all.

Or maybe, you missed a payment and ended up with a late fee, or overdrafted your bank account.

It doesn’t feel good, right?

When Justin and I were newly married, this was par for the course each and every month. After finding out that we’d overdrafted our account, I’d lie awake at night feeling guilty for not being better with our finances and feeling like I’d failed our family.

It was a terrible feeling, but one I knew well.

If you’ve failed in your budget and are feeling guilty – step 1 to making it better is giving yourself some grace.

Remember: it’s a learning process. Just like a toddler taking their first steps, you are also taking your first steps toward a better financial life for you and your family. It won’t happen perfectly, you’ll make mistakes along the way, but it’s what you do after those mistakes that really matters.

and you can’t have a successful “after” until you’ve chosen to forgive yourself.

Determine Why

The “why” of it all is a critical part of ensuring success in the future.

  • Did you overspend your budget because a family member unexpectedly moved in with you?
  • Were you tempted to eat out because you were feeling sad, lonely, or tired of cooking?
  • Did a family member end up in the hospital and exceed the amount you had set aside for medical expenses?

Take the time to look back through your finances and determine what went wrong. Once you’ve done that, decide how you will prevent that from happening in the future.

  • Will you add more money to your medical expense fund each month?
  • Are you going to be more careful to set terms when someone moves in with you?
  • Could you put together some “pre-cooked” meals so that you don’t have to prepare dinner each and every night?

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that will keep you from encountering this same issue again and again. As Albert Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Don’t be insane.

Pick Up the Pieces

After you’ve forgiven yourself and determined why your budget failed, the next step is to pick up the pieces.

I know, I know. You want to let last month go to the wayside and just start fresh, but if you have lingering charges on your bank account, additional fees due for unpaid debts, or money added to a credit card, you need to figure out how you will take care of those issues.

Consider the ways you can do this. For example, if you overspent your grocery budget last month and had to put the additional expenses on credit cards, then you might need to figure out how to eat out of your pantry and refrigerator for a week or two to recoup that money. Sure, it might not feel ideal at the time, but by taking immediate action to fix the problem you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration in the long-term.

In the case of additional fees due to your bank or with a debt payment, it might be time to consider eliminating your spending money or some other non-essential for the following month in order to get back on track. In our case, I’d probably eliminate our eating out budget, take some money back from our spending allotments, or place a hold on any and all outings with friends.

Once again, it might not seem like fun at this moment but, like we tell our kids, every action results in a consequence. The sooner you get yours out of the way, the sooner you can begin moving toward your goal once again.

Review Your Goals

Make sure to take the time to review your goals again. Personally, I write mine down at the beginning of each month so that I can see them and the progress I’ve made to date. If you are really struggling to stay on point with your own goal, you might decide to write it down in a journal each and every day.

When you look at that goal you created for yourself, if you don’t feel great excitement or have a “why” for achieving it, it might not be the goal for you. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate and put yourself on a different track toward success that matters to you.

Keep in mind that, just because the journey gets hard, doesn’t mean the goal you’ve set is the wrong one. Consider the “why” you started out with and determine if it’s still valid.

If it is, rewrite that goal and get back to work.

Additional Resources

FREE 5-Part Achieve Your Goals Course

Setting Goals for Financial Success

Move Forward Confidently

You’ve put the pieces back in place and determined the goal you set is still the one for you, so it’s time now to move forward and do so confidently. This is where a lot of people fail, but you won’t be one of them. You won’t allow yourself to get stuck in the “I can’t do it” mentality, but rather, to know that you’ve learned from a simple failure and have been able to move past it.

  • Be confident.
  • Create action steps to get the momentum going again.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Be confident.

The truth of the matter is, if you really want that goal (which I know you do!), you’ll take this as a learning experience and push forward toward your goal with even more excitement than before.

Tip: If you are finding your budget is consistently failing each and every month, it might be time to reevaluate it. Personally, I’m loving my Blessed Budget Planner for that purpose.