Nothing keeps you up at night like knowing you’ve tanked your budget for the month (or more) and set your cash flow back. I’m here to tell you from experience that going over budget happens to the best of us, and that life goes on. I’m a better man today because I survived to tell the tale.
Whether you treated yourself to some irresistible shiny objects, got duped into overpaying for something you didn’t need, or just had a run-of-the-mill emergency that cost you an arm and a leg, we’ve all been there. The trick is to not get down on yourself about it, learn from the situation, and make a plan to do better next time.
Here are three steps to bouncing back after you’ve tanked your budget and are feeling like you’ll never recoup your losses.
1. Beating Yourself Up Won’t Help
Even if this setback was 100% your fault and could have been avoided, it won’t do any good to beat yourself up about it. I know that’s a tall order for most of us hardworking folks, but it’s true. Actually, psychology and most religions tell us that the opposite is true: when we are kind to ourselves about our mistakes, we are able to fix the situation easier than when we’re not.
This is easier said than done. We all have a predisposition to criticizing ourselves because we humans need to learn from our mistakes in order to survive, but now that dangers are relatively minimal, the inner critic has become a bit overbearing. The more we recognize our inner critic’s voice, the easier it is to flip the conversation. Sometimes it helps to name your inner critic so you can tell it to be quiet. It also helps to start your day with a list of things you appreciate about yourself and/or a list of your accomplishments.
Que Sera Sera: whatever will be will be! And the sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you can get back up on your horse and keep working toward your goals.
2. Making a Plan and Having Goals Will Help
If you’ve recognized that you blew your budget, chances are that you had a plan at some point and things just didn’t go according to it. So, it’s probably time to reassess. What happened that led to the blown budget? Is there anything you can do to avoid that in the future? (Like having the right insurance policies in place!) How much did you blow your budget by? Did you have to borrow or use credit? Do you need to adjust your budget going forward?
Then figure out how much more money it will take per month for how many months in order to get yourself back to where you started. Are there ways you can reduce your spending in the meantime? Or earn extra money somehow? Can you have a barn sale or put up a produce stand on the side of the road? Can you sell off a part of your business that doesn’t make much money and takes a whole bunch of your time and energy? Host a plough wash? Enter a baking or eating contest or throw one yourself?
Get creative! Ask your friends and family for ideas or host a brainstorm. I bet you end up with some great ideas.
3. Commit to Your Plan 100%
You’ve heard the old adage, “anything worth doing is worth giving 100%.” It doesn’t have to be forever, but if you can commit yourself to just 30 days of radical frugality, you’ll be surprised how much of a dent you can make in that debt. Maybe it’ll take 60 or 90 days. Whatever is needed, resolve yourself to stick it out.
Hold yourself accountable by sharing your plan with a trusted advisor, whoever that may be, and check in with them on your progress. Challenge a colleague to a savings contest to motivate yourself even further. Keep track of your progress, no matter how small it may seem. Again, this may be a lot harder than it sounds, but if you have faith in yourself and you rally your closest confidants to cheer you on and help you out, you can get through it.
The bottom line is: don’t let your financial failure get you down. It’s only temporary and I believe everything happens for a reason. You may not understand the reason until decades later, but I bet you will be thankful for this experience someday.