Dear Home Ec 101,
When nothing goes wrong, our budget we have set works perfectly. But it seems like the littlest thing happens- we have to buy a new tire, we have to replace our refrigerator, whatever- and our budget is blown and we’re back to our old spendthrift ways. We do budget for emergencies, but it seems like going off the budget leads us right off the path. How do you keep from doing that?
Spendthrift in Speedway
I can understand this. When we were new to budgeting, we behaved in much the same way. I don’t know why, but it seems like mishaps are permission to go off budget. The fact, though, is that nothing could be further from the truth. You have to look at it in this way- although the happening was unexpected, it was budgeted for. That’s why you had money in savings to pay for the emergency.
I mentioned this to a person I know who is fabulous at budgeting and his advice to me was simple- if you take any money out of emergency savings, instead of letting that blow your budget, you need to work extra hard to replace that money. I realized how important that is, since we tend to have emergencies happen to us in bunches instead of all nice and spread out.
So, even though it might blow that you had an emergency happen, remind yourself that even if you feel like you deserve extras right now, you don’t. I think that was part of my problem- “Oh, a tire blew out on me on the freeway, I deserve to not have to cook tonight.” While I probably do deserve not to have to cook after dealing with something like that, it’s important to remember that once you dip into “the fund,” you have to get right onto replacing the money you took from it.
Alternatively, you could do another thing I do and budget for crappy days. I keep an envelope hidden with cash that I put in there from time to time and call it my “rainy day fund.” If I’m having a tough day, I go to that fund and use it for retail therapy. There’s plenty of incentive to put money in there, since it’s purely for fun purposes, but I only use cash, so it never hits my real budget.
I hope that helps, just keep on keeping on!