Confession: we went over budget in June.
In my first post , I promised to be honest — and it doesn’t get much more transparent than this.
Staying on budget is not something we struggle with most months, but this month was different.
Needless to say, it’s not something we want to repeat. With July around the corner, here’s what we’re doing to make sure next month is more successful.
Why we went over budget in June 2019
There were three key reasons we went over budget in June.
Unusually high spending on clothing
We don’t keep a sinking fund for clothing, but boy, would that have come in handy this month! In June, we dropped a fair bit of cash on clothing — specifically, summer wear.
This is not a normal thing for us. New clothes is one area I cut back on when we got serious about paying off our debt and Jeff isn’t really a big clothes shopper.
Which is why we had to make a few purchases this month. His office is not air conditioned — and he didn’t have any work-appropriate shorts.
We ended up spending a little under $200 on some basic pieces he can mix and match. Could we have done this cheaper? Sure. But I suck at thrifting and if I’m being honest, work clothes is one thing I am willing to spend on.
Slack meal prep
Weekly meal prep was very hit or miss in June. Some weeks, we did a great job! Other weeks…not so much.
Failing to be consistent about preparing meals in advance meant more fast food, more grabbing additional snacks to supplement lunch (I’m looking at you, bagels and donuts from Tims!), and more mid-week runs to the grocery store.
I’ll keep it real: June was a budget-buster because of poor planning.
Better meal planning would have resulted in less money spent on food. And on the clothing front, neither the lack of air conditioning and the limitations of Jeff’s wardrobe to accommodate for that were surprises.
Even just a little bit of planning would have made a difference to our bottom line in June.
How to bounce back when you go over budget
So…yeah. June wasn’t a great month for our budget. I recapped what happened for the sake of transparency, but that’s not why I wanted to write about it.
I wanted to write about it to address a more big picture question.
How do you stop one bad month from carrying over to the next?
I often say the debt-free journey is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m not a runner, but June felt like what I imagine hitting a wall on the marathon course would feel like.
Even though June was tough, I’m not throwing in the towel. Instead, with July just a few days away, I’m focused on getting our budget back on track.
Here are the three steps I’m taking to bounce back after going over budget in June.
Reflect on the past
Assessing what worked and what didn’t has always been a part of my budget process. Where we went over budget in June, it’s particularly important to spend some time on this step.
It’s not about dwelling on the problem or assigning blame. The reflection stage is about stepping back to consider the whole picture and make decisions about how to move forward based on that.
If you’re ending your month over budget, take a few minutes to consider what happened before diving into a plan to address it.
Plan for the present
Once you have a handle on what happened, it’s time to figure out the short-term fix.
In our case, going over budget in June means making adjustments to planned spending in July. Because we keep a $5K emergency fund, I’ve already paid the credit cards off (yes, we use credit cards. More on that here). That means the redistributed cash will be going back into that fund to top it up.
Using our emergency fund wasn’t the only option. We went that route because we could, otherwise we would have adjusted our July budget to pay the bill slowly throughout the month.
Whatever the case, coming up with a plan to deal with the overspend in the short-term is important.
Adjust for the future
You know what went wrong. You’ve taken steps to fix the immediate problem. Now it’s time to think about what you can do to stop it from happening again.
Maybe that means creating a sinking fund or pulling back on savings to allow more flexibility in your day to day budget. This step required a lot of honesty and a willingness to do what needs to be done.
I’ll be honest: I’m still trying to figure out the long-term solution for our budget.
A big thing holding me back right now is the fact that our budget is going to change at the end of August when Jeff’s pension and benefits kick in. I have a rough idea of what to expect, but I’m putting off finalizing the budget until I know for sure.
Once I have a better idea, I’ll be considering some options for how to add a little more flexibility to our budget to handle these situations.
Going over budget sucks, but it happens. The important thing is to not let it become a habit.
By reflecting on what happened, making a plan to address the problems in the short term and making adjustments for the future, you can bounce back from an over budget month.
Have you ever gone over budget? What are you biggest budget busters?
Those months where expenses are higher than income are really discouraging. (I’m looking at you, camp fees!) But you’re absolutely right – you need to figure out why it happened, and plan for the future.
Right?! I did a little informal poll on Insta and it looks like a LOT of people were feeling like this in June. Summer, eh? At least it’s a little nicer outside!