How to get back on the (budgeting) wagon
So, you fell off the wagon. You were doing good for a little while - you’d started managing your money differently. Maybe you were keeping track of your expenses, keeping your awareness around your spending high. You had stopped using your credit cards, maybe even started putting money away for emergency savings, you’d made a plan and had been chugging away at it. Things were going well, if slowly.
And then, something happened. Life rose up and ate your brain a little. You had a baby, a job change, a hyperbusy period, you moved, maybe you just got a bad cold - whatever it was, it was more urgent and brain-consuming than dealing with your money. So you didn’t, not really. You didn’t get wild or anything, but you started saying things like “we’ll figure it out” and “I’ll deal with this next week when things aren’t so crazy.”
And then, you looked up and it had been three weeks. Or...three months? It’s fuzzy. All you know is that things feel notably less in your control. You don’t feel intentional anymore, you feel frazzled. Your budget hasn’t been updated. Your credit cards are definitely back in your wallet, and the balances have slowly but surely started to sneak back up.
What’s a gal to do?
It’s that simple, and that hard. I’m sure you’ve experienced this in other parts of your life, this feeling of overwhelm and frayed-ness. In most parts of your life, you don’t have the luxury of simply throwing up your hands and saying, “forget everything that’s happened, let’s call it over and start again!” Wouldn’t that be nice, sometimes? Make a mistake at work? “Ugh, that was a mistake. Let’s start over. Hi, I’m Wendy, today’s my first day.”
But with these systems you’ve started to implement in your life, this budget, you can. What a wonderful thing! You can simply and literally just throw out your old budget and begin again. If you’re following along at home and using You Need a Budget (YNAB), do a Fresh Start - your category structure and bank balances will remain the same, but all your transaction history will be wiped out. A copy of everything as it is right now will be saved into a new budget in your account. If you’ve been using a different system (whether that be Mint, an Excel spreadsheet, or something else entirely), just save a new copy and begin again. Sign up again with a new email address. Whatever.
First step: give yourself permission to be who you are, and to need a second (or third, or fourth) chance.
Next step: breathe a sigh of relief.
And then, begin again. Start today. And start to make a plan for how to avoid this happening again next time. Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, there will be a next time. Life’s like that.
P.S. For those of you reading along who are saying “You can’t fall off the wagon if you never got on in the first place”, you’re in the right place. Check out my free 5-day challenge made just for you!