6 Ways to Manage Money After Your Epic Budgeting Fail

manage money

Do you ever completely screw up your budget? You have a few days or weeks when you manage money perfectly and then all of a sudden you just massively blow it out of the water?

This happens to everyone at least once. Even the most perfect of budgeters have a moment where they flat-out don’t manage money well.

And the aftermath is the worst part. Especially since the emotional repercussions of a blown budget can create an uphill climb.

Luckily, a blown budget isn’t the end of the world. These tips will help you manage money like a pro, even when the circumstances are not what you intended.

3 ways to manage money after a budgeting mishap

1. Return it if you regret it

If you regret the purchase and are able to return it, do it. This is the easiest way to erase the thing you now believe to be a mistake.

Be careful. Returning it in person means you have to go back to the scene of the crime. And stepping foot in the store again could lead to more unplanned purchases.

Even worse, if you only get a store credit in return, you might feel obligated to immediately use the credit. In that case, you might be better off keeping what you bought.

Also, keep in mind that buying, regretting, and returning can become a vicious cycle. Be careful not to view returning things all the time as a real solution to the problem.

2. “Borrow” from other budgeting categories to come out even

If you’re sticking with whatever you spent the money on – or if it’s not a thing that can be returned (such as a dinner out) – “borrow” from another area of your budget. Then you can come out even at the end of the month.

For example, say you overspent on groceries but underspent on entertainment. Remove the difference from your entertainment budget to break even on the overall budget.

You can do this literally if you’re on the envelope budgeting system. Or you can make these adjustments on whatever app, document, or spreadsheet you use to manage your money.

Don’t have any tools to manage your money? Remember: you make what you measure. Start tracking your spending now.

Borrowing from other categories is a great way to find flexibility in how you manage money. However, it can become a crutch if you’re not careful. If you find yourself doing this every month consecutively, re-do your spending plan.

3. Go on a no-spend week to get ahead

If you don’t have any flexibility in your budget to borrow from other areas, create it. The best way to do that is to go on a no-spend week. This can help you break even or can be used in addition to the tip above to get ahead.

Here’s how it works: If you have a certain amount of money budgeted for coffee or lunches out, then forego both for one week and make your coffee and lunch at home. Or, if you had money planned out for a night with friends, turn it into a night in.

Seven days of not spending a dime, even when it’s money you had budgeted for spending, can make up for money management mishaps.

You might even find that you enjoy your no-spend week and make it a reoccurring event. Some people do this once a month or quarter for practice (and the quick and easy boost to their savings).

Once you’ve stopped the bleeding, it’s time to dig deep

Once you’ve used these quick fix strategies to get your budget under control, it’s time to dig deep to find out why it happened.

You may not be able to stop the past, but you can learn from it. And even though everyone has a budgeting slip up occasionally, everyone does it for different reasons. Discovering your reason is the key to managing your money effectively.

It could be that you were using retail therapy on a bad day, that you rebelled against a too-restrictive budget, or that you simply lost track of your spending for the month.

Whatever it is, once you understand why, it’s a lot easier to prevent it from happening again. Here are a few additional strategies to help with managing your money:

1. Build an emergency fund

First things first: any time your budget is feeling the squeeze, build or buff up your emergency fund. An emergency fund is important for preventing turning to credit during an unexpected event.

There are many opinions on how much money to have in an emergency fund, but a good rule of thumb is saving three months to one year of living expenses. Since this can take a long time, the important thing is to focus on slowly and sustainably growing this fund.

And if you need a little extra support, go to the America Saves accountability pledge. You can even sign up for text message tips to help.

2. Create a “splurge” budgeting category

Since an emergency fund isn’t supposed to be used unless absolutely necessary, you could also try creating a “splurge” budgeting category. This category creates a little room for the occasional splurge.

With a splurge budget, you don’t have to feel restricted by your spending plan. Instead, you can see it as the thing that keeps you on track with the occasional pat on the back.

You can even partake in National Splurge Day. A little reward can go a long way in managing your money sustainably.

3. Discover the best savings strategy for your personality

One thing you’ve probably noticed is these tips require saving money. It goes without saying this is easier said than done.

So how can you stay motivated to save money? Hack your personality.

U.S. News & World Report illustrates several personalities and ways to save more based on each one. This includes the goal-setter, the gambler, the nervous Nellie or Norman, and the lazy saver. So how does U.S. News & World Report say each one can save more?

  • The goal-setter can create different savings accounts for different topics.
  • The gambler can fulfill their need for risk by setting aside small amounts of money (that aren’t needed) to play with.
  • The nervous saver can seek out high-yield savings that might make them feel a bit safer.
  • For the lazy saver, it’s all about automation.

Customize your money management system

The moral of the story? We’re all different. Therefore, your money management should be customized to your needs and your personality.

Once you do that, you’ll be able to handle a blown budget and create a more effective money management system moving forward.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print, understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Published in Budgeting, Financial Goals, How to Manage Money Wisely

  • Matt Jons

    Track your spending. If you don’t know where your money goes, it can be difficult to find opportunities to save. Keep track of your spending habits to help identify areas where you can cut expenses.