Even with careful planning and the best budget in hand, things can still go wrong with your personal finance. An attractive special offer may persuade you to buy that round-trip ticket to the Bahamas for the holiday. You may be tempted by the new fancy restaurant just a few minutes away from the office. Emergencies and expenses that you fail to budget for could also ruin your personal finance in an instant.
Regardless of the reason why you blow through your monthly budget, the main thing to do is taking steps to prevent the issue from turning into a financial meltdown. Failure to do so could lead to you being trapped in a vicious circle of going overbudget one month after the other. To help you prepare for when you do go beyond your monthly budget, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind.
Acknowledge the Issue
The first step to solving your financial issue is recognizing that you have an issue to deal with. Unfortunately, it is also the most challenging step. I know from experience just how easy it is to brush going over budget off, thinking that I can just reallocate money from other posts or use my savings to deal with other expenses until the next pay check arrives.
That, however, is never the case. Immediately turning to your savings or irresponsibly taking money from other posts will only get you into more trouble, especially when you have yet to admit that you have an issue to deal with.
Rather than skipping this step, review the mistakes you made with your expenses and understand where you did wrong. Was it an alluring discount that you just cannot miss? Was it a spontaneous decision? How can you avoid it in the future? More importantly, how big is the gap that one (or several) mistake create?
Reorganize Your Budget for the Month
The more you assess the situation, the better informed you will be about the magnitude of your issue. Spending £200 on a new bag because it is on sale means you have a £200 gap to fill before the next pay check. It is time to take a closer look at your budget and make the necessary changes.
Those changes usually mean cutting back other expenses that are not essential. It takes a lot of discipline to make the right changes and stick to them, but it is certainly doable. You can start eliminating non-essential expenses such as the cost of dining out or buying Starbucks to begin filling that gap.
In some situations, more cuts are needed. You can reduce your budget for other expenses; no cut is too small to make. Going from allocating £150 for groceries to spending £75 means getting an extra £75 that you can allocate to filling the gap. It is a bit of a balancing act, which is why every bit you can reallocate counts.
Explore Your Options
When the gap is big enough, cutting expenses may not be enough to fill it. This is when you can start looking into financing options in order to fill the gap without harming next month’s budget. While it is not wise to immediately turn to credit cards and loans in the beginning – when you haven’t fully reviewed the situation and acknowledge the issue – there are financing options you can use to fix the issue once you fully understand it.
Short-term loans are options worth considering. When the gap is so big that you risk not being able to cover your basic expenses and loan repayments, using short-term financing to avoid late charges and other effects is a solution worth considering. For smaller expenses like groceries, credit cards are also handy.
Try to keep the issue contained; what you want to do is preventing the gap from extending beyond the month’s budget. When using a loan to fill the gap, for example, you want to make sure that repaying that short-term loan will not disrupt your budget for the following month.
Don’t Forget Prevention
Prevention is the way to stop yourself from making the same mistake again the future. You also want to prevent bigger problems from arising. If unexpected expenses are occurring frequently, you may want to start working on setting up an emergency fund.
As for going over your budget because of your shopping impulses or other mishaps, the best thing to do is allocate a portion of your income for lifestyle expense and then sticking to that budget. If the new bag you want happens to be beyond the month’s lifestyle budget, save the allocated money until you can shop without ruining the rest of your budget.
Acting fast and taking the right steps are crucial if you are serious about preventing bigger, more challenging problems after going over-budget on your expenses. Now that you have these tips in mind, you know exactly what to do when an unexpected expense throws your budget off, along with how you can prevent them from doing so in the future.