Avoiding Budget Buster Moments

Blocks Spelling Budget Falling Over As Symbol for Spending And BusinessWe’ve all had them: everything’s humming along fine with our craft and then there’s a special trip that “everyone else is going on.” Suddenly you’re spending money like a half-crazed couponer at a going out of business sale.

We call it the “budget buster” moment.

What is a budget buster moment? It’s when you’ve been a good saver for a long time and then feel like you deserve a treat.

Maybe you’ve worked on your craft harder than ever before.

Maybe you’ve kept a tight lid on your spending.

Maybe you’ve worked out and lost ten pounds.

Whatever the reason, you decide it’s time to celebrate. The budget goes out the window and you’re a money-spending, budget-busting fun person to hang out with…

Those Days Always End In Misery.

I’ve felt it. You may have felt it. …the regret that comes with overspending is horrible. You can’t stop the pit in your stomach from growing. You know that you just blew the budget (and your budget for the next few months) and you’re wondering what you’ll have to do to get whole again.

There’s nothing wrong with failing at your budget, as long as you’re willing to get back on the horse again.

Here’s How To Avoid Budget Busters

1)   Loosen the belt. Sure, you’re excited about your budget now, but after the newness wears off, living on ramen and wheat bread is likely to trigger a violent spending reaction down the line. Instead, think about balance: I want some fun today but I also need to save enough to have fun tomorrow.

2)   Give yourself an allowance. While you might have a strict grocery or clothing allowance, give yourself a small amount to spend each week on stuff you won’t track. If you want more expensive items that you’d feel guilty about purchasing, force yourself to save these little allowance dollars. Big ticket trinkets or experiences and no guilt because you stuck to the budget!

3)   Talk about your money. People spend for lots of reasons, including buying addiction and feelings of helplessness in other areas of their lives. Without going into the psychology of why YOU might be overspending, I’ve always found that by talking about your spending with close friends you’ll hold yourself to a different standard.

4)   Keep money out of your hands. I’ve mentioned this often, but the reason I spend money is because it’s available. By keeping money in spots that I can’t spend, I’m able to save automatically!

5)   Keep your big goals in front of you. People who succeed do it because they know what they want. You’ve seen this with top artists. Once they decide that they’re going to create, it’s magic. You can do the same with your spending habit. Keep your long term goals in places that you can see them. One client had a photo of her dream home on her bathroom mirror. Every time she brushed her teeth she remembered why she was working so hard. Seven years later, she was in a gorgeous new home!

6)   Stay away from clusters of misery. I’ve written an entire blog post on this topic in the past. By keeping yourself around positive people and positive messages, you’ll avoid many money mistakes.

7)   Keep financial media in front of you. Read this blog! Read other money blogs. Listen to financial podcasts. By keeping finance in your daily vocabulary, you’ll be less likely to make horrible decisions with your money.

A friend of mine is a golfer. He said that the very first lesson he needed to learn to play better golf was to avoid “trouble” on the course. Trouble meant hitting the ball into bunkers or behind trees. Often he found himself “in trouble” because he’d try to (in his words) “get cute” with his shots. Instead, he needed to stay calm and play for the long term. When he got into trouble, he needed to focus on getting back out of trouble quickly, rather than panicking and compounding the error.

Whether you’re a golfer or not, I think this is a good lesson. By avoiding panic when you bust the budget, you’re better able to make tweaks to get the budget back in line. Learn from each mistake. That way, you’ll be back on track toward your goals in no time!