What to Do When You Overspend
How is your budget going?
Are you staying organized, saving extra money, and finding satisfaction in knowing where every cent goes each month?
Hopefully, that is how you feel about your budget – or at least, pretty close. It IS possible to have a budget that you love! Truthfully, a budget is empowering – it helps you to control your money, not the other way around. It helps bring order to an otherwise easily chaotic part of life.
Living by a budget exhibits good stewardship as a manager of the resources God has given you, which is why it’s part of the first step on Crown’s Money Map.
But sometimes, we mess up. In fact, I’d venture to say everyone who has kept a budget for more than 6 months has probably not spent every single cent the way they planned. Things come up. Life happens. And sometimes you overspend. It may be just a few dollars here and there, or it may be a big-time “oops” moment.
So what do you do when this happens? How do you bounce back from the overspending to keep your budget on track?
Well, the first thing you should remember is that when you overspend, DO NOT decide that you’ve just blown your budget, so you may as well give up and spend whatever you want for the rest of the month.
If you accidentally stub your toe, you don’t go around stubbing the remaining nine! That doesn’t do anyone any good. Instead, learn from it and don’t run into that obstacle again. Avoid it more gracefully in the future.
So instead, learn from your mistake, adjust, and keep going.
When you overspend, recognize that you have, repent, and try to identify why it happened. Remember that when it comes to your money problems, money isn’t the problem. What you believe about money is. So when you’re identifying why you overspent, identify where your beliefs and behaviors about money didn’t match up, and how to fix it going forward.
We’re not in the businesses of treating only the symptoms of our money problems. Your budget can help you get out of debt, save, and do good things with your money. But faithful stewardship requires us to address the root issues that cause our money problems. If you only address the symptoms, and never let God’s principles transform heart, you’ll never experience the freedom that Christ offers.
A huge benefit of having a budget is you can see where you are overspending and make adjustments to your categories. It’s your budget – it works for you! If you went over in your Eating Out category, see what other areas you can “borrow” money from – maybe it’s Recreation/Entertainment or Groceries.
If you’re consistently overspending in certain categories, adjust your budget to put more money in that category (and less in another). Your budget needs to set you up for success, and if you’re frequently in the red when it comes to your Grocery fund, it may start to feel like failure.
Another effective idea is to switch your payment method to all cash in the categories in which you’re overspending. If you implement the envelope system for any part of your budget, it should help you more clearly see where your money is going to help you cut back.
A budget is not a permanent document; it’s not set in stone. It’s meant to be revisited and adjusted from time to time. Give it the time and attention it needs and your finances will be all the better for it. And you may find that you actually love your budget!