How To Get Your Spending Plan Back On Track

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Multiple Glass Slippers with M&Ms

What favor did Jonathan take home from a summer of weddings? Some new bad habits. (Likely, some candy too.)

In the span of 12 weeks this summer, my wife and attended 13 “wedding-related” events (receptions, showers, and bachelorette bachelor parties). Yikes!

Was it fun? Absolutely

Was it great to catch up with friends and family? Without a doubt

Was it expensive? You bet your bottom dollar (And yes, the money reference is intentional.)

***

Despite factoring these expenses into our spending plan ahead of time, my wife and encountered many unexpected, wedding-related expenses. In short, things escalated quickly—and that drastically affected our plan.

While I wouldn’t trade the experiences, the reality is that after a stretch of spending like this, we needed to get back on track. With the most notorious period for spending (the holidays) right around the corner, you may face a similar dilemma soon enough. Here’s how to handle it.

Reassess Everything

A majority of our overspending came from three specific categories: entertainment, gifts, and miscellaneous. As you can imagine, this affected other categories in our spending plan, leaving less “wiggle room” for our long-term goals, like savings.

It’s obvious to revisit the categories you overspend in, to see where you need to adjust. However, use this as an opportunity to reassess your entire spending plan—to ensure you didn’t miss anything. For us, this helped us plan for the upcoming winter months, when we’re bound to see increases in other categories (gifts, anyone?).

Remember The Past

After the craziness that was this summer, remembering how we approached spending was important—especially because we had a plan and stuck to it. So, think about what was it like before your spending spree. Remembering that past can help you break any newly developed bad habits.

For instance, one unintended consequence of this wedding season was our new tendency to overspend more freely. Suddenly, all expenses were lumped under “wedding season,” which made overspending a lot easier and (gulp) justifiable. The fact is, we let our guard down a little—and started to develop some bad habits because of it.

Remembering the past, being more disciplined, and closely monitoring our spending helped us get back on track, and it can do the same for you.

Implement A New Strategy

Something else that helped us get back on track was changing things up a bit. For us, this meant implementing a new strategy with paying down debt, commonly known as the snowball method.

It’s pretty straightforward. First, list all the debts you have, with the lowest balance debt on top. After that, allocate as much of your monthly spending plan as you can to debt elimination, paying the minimum on all of the debts except the one with the lowest balance. For that debt, pay the absolute maximum amount you can on that debt until it’s gone.

So, where is the snowball part? Once you pay off that first, lowest balance, a new debt rises to the top of the list—but now you have fewer debts overall. So (in theory), the amount of money you can apply each month to the new “lowest debt” is a bit bigger, which grows each time you pay off a new debt, kind of like a snowball rolling down a hill.

Anyway, since our spending plan “refresh,” we’ve started using the snowball method for paying down some (not all) of our debt obligations. So far, the tactic has proved beneficial. If you’re looking for a different way to tackle your spending, consider this tactic as well.

***

I’m happy to say we’ve gotten back on track, and our spending plan is now “in check.” Bring on the holidays … I guess.

How do you get back on track when your spending goes off the rails?

(Photo: antaresjhw)

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