What To Do When Your Budget Doesn’t Work

I am obsessed with budgets, y’all. I love to make them, love to write about them, and I love to use them.

But, you probably already knew that.

This time around, however, I am feeling a little pinch. I am feeling uneasy. I am feeling like I’ve pretty much done all I could to live a simpler life, and yet it’s just not enough.

I make my budgets in 6-8 month blocks which coordinates with my hubs’ loan disbursement for medical school. We use his loans for our living expenses like rent and food, and we use my income to pay all other bills and to save for extras. If my hubs attended medical school in the U.S., I would likely be able to secure a higher income, but because we live internationally, I am working part time in Grenada and part time online (which, despite helping the budget an awful lot, has not made things easy breezy).

This particular 7 month stretch has not gone exactly as planned. We got a large loan disbursement in January, and I planned it out so that we would be good all the way through August. I even planned out that we would be able to take a road trip to Virginia and a road trip to Texas. And, I pre-saved for a new Macbook so that I can continue to support my little 2 person + puppy family online.

Well, the road trip to VA happened, but the road trip to Texas is now impossible. The Macbook will happen, but other smaller expenses will (gasp) go on a credit card.

So, what went wrong? How did I screw this up? Why do I feel like I am working my arse off and yet barely keeping my head above water?

I have thought about this extensively, and I believe it’s because we don’t have an emergency fund.

When I look at my budget sheet for July, I get so frustrated. I pre-paid for my car insurance, which I knew was going to happen in my head but stupidly forgot to put in the budget. I have spent way more in gas than originally budgeted, even with my parents filling me up twice this summer to be nice. Sweet hubs is having some issues with his foot that required 5 doctors appointments and a specific pair of shoes. We had to pre-pay for all of the hubs’ books for school (Book costs are included in the August loan disbursement but we don’t get that for 4 more weeks.) We are pre-buying everything we can’t get in Grenada like deodorant, soap, etc. And, we’ve gone out to eat way more than originally thought.

And I, a self proclaimed budget queen, feel helpless, like I can’t do anything about it. I factored in paying for rent as soon as I got back to Grenada, but I didn’t think about everything that we would need before we got there.

And, to top it off, I feel like I can’t fully express this situation without being embarrassed. I feel like I am working so hard to make up for the losses, but something else inevitably comes up.

Now, I know we are going to be okay. I know that we’ll make it to Grenada in one piece. I’m still going to buy a computer because if mine breaks in Grenada, I am up the creek without a paddle (yet another unique situation – buying a computer or having one fixed in Grenada is so outrageously expensive, I cannot even fathom consider waiting to see if mine will make it through the semester.)

But, I still feel sad that I didn’t make an emergency fund, which would have covered all of the medical expenses and would have provided a “loan” for books etc. before getting the disbursement.

I should note that this exact pinch happened in January too right before we got our January loan, and it was really hard to explain to others why we felt like we couldn’t do certain things or go certain places. It’s embarrassing, and for two people who used to have what we considered well paying full time jobs, it’s really annoying.

So, all that to say, the only way to fix a broken budget is to do better next time. Life allows us to have re-do’s like that, and I’m okay with it. I’m starting an emergency fund immediately, and I hope to grow it to $5,000 using my income as the sole source of it. After this experience, I am more determined than ever to make that work.

I hope this post doesn’t come across as a big whine-fest. My goal was to show you that even though I have a blog called “Budget Blonde,” I screw up too sometimes. Life happens to me too. And, as much as I plan and save, sometimes it’s just not enough.

Have any of you created an emergency fund? Have any of you had unexpected expenses lately that threw a wrench in your plans?

About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford aka "Cat" is a personal finance freelance writer who currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband and spoiled pup, Julep. To learn more about her writing services, please visit her Hire Me page or e-mail her at Cat[at]BudgetBlonde[dot]com. Follow her on Google + to get all the latest updates.

Lovely comments:

  1. Very astute conclusion about no emergency fund. My husband and I started Dave Ramsey’s money plan around six years back, and that’s one of the first things he preaches, because the unexpected always happens. Once it got us a need-it-now-need-it-quick truck for $4,000 when ours suddenly kaput and my husband couldn’t mow his clients’ lawns. We were bummed about our penny-scraping pile suddenly shrinking under $1,000. But a couple of my classmates consoled me that most people would be in the red over a situation like that. I realized how empowering it is to have a cushion waiting for Murphy’s law to come into action (“If anything can go wrong, it will”).

  2. I hear ya & feel ya on all of it! And yeah it’s embarrassing sometimes to have to be on a budget, at least when dealing with others who aren’t, but you’re following your dreams, and that’s what’s most important! :) Since I work for myself I’m on a budget all the time; cash flow varies so much that I have no choice. And I’m ok with that, because I’ve always wanted to work for myself. But I swear some of the hardest times aren’t when the budget is lean, they’re when I have to figure out what to say to friends who want to go do this or do that and I can’t because of budgeting…and if I try to say I can’t because of money, I feel like people are rolling their eyes at me & thinking, “get a real job and you won’t have to worry about it” (and some have actually started telling me about job openings they hear about). Blah! So I’m learning to get better at glossing over the comments & coming up with inventive excuses, lol!

    Good luck on your emergency fund…I’m hoping to have one of those eventually, too. :)

Trackbacks

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