One of the most common questions I've heard from my coaching clients is, "what do I do when I'm having (or had) a crappy month?"
My answer: "Dude. I feel ya."
I religiously track my income and expenses and review it all at the end of every single month. Some months are great, and I feel on top of the world.
But then some months are absolutely horrendous. ("WAAAAAIT wait wait, I spent HOW MUCH MONEY this month?!?!?! How is that even possible?!")
Seriously. It happens to us all.
So how do you recover from a terrible month? How do you motivate yourself to get back on the budgeting/tracking/frugal train? How do you keep moving forward when you just want to throw in the towel?
How to fix a bad spending month
1. Don't give up.
Just because your first week of the month was terrible, don't give up on the rest of the month. Pick yourself up and get back on track. You can do it.
2. Get some perspective.
One bad month isn't going to break you. Try thinking of your finances over the course of an entire year. Is this month (or two) really going to ruin your entire year? Probably not.
3. Remind yourself of what you did well.
I bet your month wasn't a complete failure. I bet you still put a few bucks into your savings account or paid the minimums on your student loans. If so, pat yourself on the back! You're still moving forward.
4. Set a goal for next month.
One of my go-to strategies to getting back on track is to set a goal for the next month. Be sure it isn't a super outrageous, impossible goal (that'd just make you more depressed next month) but a reachable, but slightly challenging goal (ex. save a certain amount of money, set up your 401k contribution, pay a certain amount towards your debts) will do wonders for your motivation.
5. What'd you learn?
Don't just sweep this month under the rug and pretend it never happened. Instead, think about what caused your spending to increase. Did you and your boyfriend have a fight, and you turned to retail therapy? Did you get pulled into a big project at work that made you have to order almost every meal out for a whole week? Pinpoint exactly what happened to make your spending go haywire, and decide how you can handle it next time.
Instead of retail therapy when something goes wrong, build up a support network of friends that you can talk to.
Instead of having to order every meal out when you get bogged down on a project at work, stash some frozen dinners in your freezer.
There's always something to be learned from a tough month. If you're struggling with it, feel free to send me an email (Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties . com) and we can talk through it together :)