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5 Ways to Get Your Budget Back on Track

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This week we had to have a "Come to Jesus" meeting with our budget. Between my job re-construction, moving expenses and the start of football practice, we were waaaayyyy out of control. Here are 5 tips for getting back on track fast and effectively.

1) Re-evaluate your numbers.

Unfortunately for my OCD, budgets are constantly evolving. Whether you have growing boys who are eating you out of house and home, unexpected expenses, or larger than normal bills, it's always a good idea to re-evaluate when things start to look a little wonky.
For example, this month we got a notice that our storage unit was going up on August 1st. I looked at the notice and tossed it aside hoping to remember to ask Jarrod what we were currently paying. Of course I totally forgot and later realized it was a $30 a month increase! Whaaaaat??! Talk about inflation! We were also able to lower our electric bill budget a bit in exchange for the storage unit as our current house is smaller than our old one and the bills have been consistently lower. Tracking those changes will allow you to have a current and up to date idea of what your monthly numbers should be.

2) Commit to following the envelope system for at least 30 days.

I don't follow the envelope system all the time. When we first started budgeting, I followed it to a tea for almost 2 years. It was sooooo freeing. But, I also have 4 kids who are constantly digging through my purse or rummaging through my "money" drawer and I started noticing money was disappearing. Now, I can pretty much keep up with stuff in my head. So, I still use my debit card but I keep a note list on my phone of where I've spent what. This is great except when you start swiping that card a little too much. A little $10 meal here or $5 drinks there really adds up fast if you aren't keeping track. Getting back to the basics helps keep me accountable and get me back on track.

3) Commit to a 30 day spending freeze.

Sometimes my envelopes or spending categories get way out of balance. When I start robbing Peter to pay Paul, I find that a 30 day halt will usually help me get back on track. Obviously, groceries are not the first category you choose from unless you've done quite a bit of freezer cooking. But maybe a month with no movies or a few weeks of no shoe shopping will give you a bit extra to fill those envelopes that are short.

4) Communicate

Making sure you and your partner are on the same page is crucial to making your budget work at all times, but especially when things get tight. We had several run in's last month when Jarrod would announce a night out at the Mexican restaurant without realizing our Eating Out budget was already wayyyyy overdrawn. I was then the "bad guy" when I had to give him the evil eye and let the kids know that we were in fact NOT going to the Mexican restaurant. Communicating keeps the "bad guy" at bay by both being on the same page with spending.

5) Remember your goals.

When budgeting gets hard, it's always a refreshment for me to remember my goals. Why am I doing this? How close am I to reaching my goal? How far have I come in paying off debt or putting extra money in savings? Goals give us a purpose as well as a progress report. And always remember to look more at the progress than at the remainder. You'll get there, I promise!

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