Who hasn’t gone off-budget once or twice in their lives? It can happen for a variety of reasons – from unexpected medical expenses to overspending on a vacation, to sudden unemployment, to simple carelessness. A busted budget can truly happen to anyone. But if it does happen to you, it’s important to get it back on track before the impact causes you serious money problems. Here are a few ways to right the ship:
When you realize you’ve busted your budget, the very first thing you need to do is stop spending on anything that isn’t essential. Stop the bleeding until you can figure out how to get things on track again. Start by looking for ways to cut back so you can replenish the funds you lost. Low-hanging fruit like cable TV costs and going out to eat with friends should be the first things to cut out. If you have issues with self-control, consider asking someone to serve as an accountability partner, and hold you to a strict spending regimen.
Revise Your Monthly Budget
If you’ve gone over budget for anything other than an emergency, spend some time reevaluating your income and expenses. A budget is designed to keep your money on track, so if you’re busting it, there’s something off with your calculations. Take a look at your budget and see if you can move some funds around to cover areas of overspending. Check to see if you are underspending in another category because you may be able to repurpose those funds. You also need to be realistic. If you continually go over your budget on groceries, for example, you may need to increase that budget and cut back somewhere else.
Earn Some Extra Money
A great way to bounce back from a broken budget is to make additional money. Consider taking on a part-time job, or getting a side gig to earn some extra cash. Many people are even able to turn a simple side hustle or hobby into a business that can be run out of your own home.
Save for Emergencies
To help prevent budget-busting in the future, it’s a good idea to set up an emergency fund. Most experts suggest you keep at least three to six months of expenses in an account but start by adding whatever you can afford. Create a savings goal each month to get you into the habit. Try setting up an automatic payment to your savings account when you get paid to make it easier. And remember, it’s vital that you don’t dip into the fund unless you have a true emergency.
Use Targeted Savings Accounts
Many people put all their money into a single savings account, which can make it harder to figure out how much you have saved for each financial goal. Opening targeted savings accounts is a smart way to split your money for specific objectives, such as vacations, home repairs, car repairs, medical bills, etc. Organizing your accounts this way can serve as a good motivator for saving and budgeting. You’ll be able to prioritize your goals. For example, if you plan to go on a big trip this fall, you might stop putting money away into your car repair fund and put more into your vacation fund. With targeted savings accounts you’ll also be able to visualize your savings better and have a clearer picture of when your budget may be in trouble.
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