Happy Monday, friends!! If you’re a regular reader, you know that my family and I are going extreme with our budget for three months as we work to save for some extra expenses. Months one and two were pretty good, but month three is NOT going so well from a bare budget goal standpoint. Our grocery budget alone, which is normally around $450 a month for our family of six, is already up to $586.02, and we’ve still got eleven days left in the month! While I realize that this is still a pretty low grocery month for a family of six, it’s MUCH higher than what we usually spend, and much, much higher than what I had hoped to spend for September, which was around the $400 range.
First, I’m going to talk about how we got so incredibly off track, and then I’m going to share tips on how we plan to fix the leak.
September’s grocery planning method is highly reminiscent of our pre-debt payoff days. Back in those days, we had budgeted about $600 a month for food, but when I went back after our debt wake-up call and tracked our spending, I found out that we were actually spending closer to $900 a month for groceries. Here were the mistakes we were making, and they’re pretty much the same mistakes I found myself making this month.
We Have No Plan
I made a really half-hearted attempt at menu planning this month. It’s a crazy month. We’re usually pretty mellow people in the sense that we try not to overbook our schedule by any stretch of the imagination. We like to socialize, but we like being home and hanging out together with no responsibilities other than the usual too. This mellow schedule allows me to have a plan and keep it in place, but we’ve totally abandoned the use of a plan this month due to a crazy schedule.
The lack of a menu plan is sure to make a grocery budget skyrocket well beyond what it could be with a good plan in place, which is why we’re generally diligent about making and keeping a menu plan and a shopping plan to go along with it. If I had to do it over again, I would have made our September menu plan in mid-to-late August in anticipation of our busy month.
We Overbooked Ourselves
This is a sure cause for a blown budget. We have LOTS going on this month that’s caused our schedule to be much busier than we’re used to dealing with.
- School started, and the kids’ workload is heavier
- We have social events every day of every weekend this month, three of which are hosted at our home. Many of them are all day long events.
- We’ve had a few unexpected doc, dentist and other appointments that came up last minute.
Basically, we’re running wild all month long, which has caused us to throw our food plan out the window. We’ve been eating inexpensively for the most part, but we’ve also been stopping at the store for stuff here and there and just throwing fruit and other things we’re out of into the cart without a plan. Convenience is trumping the budget since we’re just trying to make it through the busy days.
We’re Working to Combat Stress
Busy schedules stress us out a bit, so we’re focusing on making life as easy to deal with as possible during this super busy season. As such, budgeting is on the back burner. This may not seem like a smart idea but for now we’re just working to make it through the busy days as sanely as possible. 🙂
The result? A blown grocery budget. Luckily we’re staying on track with entertainment and other expenses. We’re not going out to eat or ordering takeout – we’re just not being diligent about our grocery budget. This is okay once in awhile, but if you’re finding that it’s happening every single month it can really take a toll on your finances.
We’ve diagnosed the problems that are causing us to be off track on our grocery budget. Here’s how we’ll recover.
How We’ll Recover
Now that we’ve made the mistake, it’s time to put a recovery plan in place. These tips should work for anyone working to recover from a blown budget.
Stop the Leak
We realize we’ll still have to spend some money on groceries, but we’re working to stop the leak by eating what’s in the house and buying only what we have to buy for the rest of the month.
If you’ve got a budget leak that is in your control, whether it’s eating out, entertainment, groceries or whatever, the first step to recover is to stop the leak by minimizing or stopping spending.
Commit to Change
The second step we’ll implement in order to recover from our blown budget is to commit to doing better in the future. When busy months are on the horizon again, we’ll make a grocery menu plan and budget plan well in advance so we’re not making seemingly endless random trips to the grocery store.
Repair the Damage
We’re committing to stopping the leak now, but we’ll wait to work to repair the damage after the crazy busy month is done. We’ll do this by working to minimize October’s grocery budget, continue on our super limited entertainment budget and working to find extra income as well.
When you blow your budget, try not to spend too much time feeling regret. Instead, use the tips above to make a recovery plan so you can get back on track.
If you can use the steps above and others like it to help recover from a blown budget, you can turn things around quickly and make up for past mistakes, moving on to a better financial future.
Have you had any blown budget issues lately? How do you make up for budget snafus?