Falling Off The Wagon

I am going to take a little break from the topic of giving today to talk about falling off the wagon. All of us have great intentions when we are starting a new diet, or exercise program, a goal for the new year, and especially in budgeting. We start out strong, but at some point we all face frustration, fatigue, we have a bad day, want to quit, and just fall off the wagon. In budgeting, falling off the wagon often means that you start the next month in the hole financially and trying to dig out from your impulse buys. One giant cause for falling off the wagon is vacation. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to stop spending when you get home?

Other causes for falling off the wagon are sickness (because no one feels like cooking so you blow your grocery budget), Christmas (unless you have a plan), visitors coming from out of town (especially family! They just kill your budget even though you love them… hopefully), and even just budgeting fatigue. We all get tired of doing what we know is good for us. We all have days when we don’t feel like excercising and eating good, and we just want to go out and spend money. The question is, “What do you do on the day after?” What do you do when you have gone on a little spending spree and bought your kids a whole new wardrobe for fall with no idea how to pay for it? Do you just keep spending, or think, “Oh, well, I have blown it for the month, I’ll try again next month”?

The key to falling off the wagon is to let yourself enjoy your day being relaxed and then don’t turn it into a week and then a month. Every day that you let yourself freefall in your spending counts in a huge way. You will be horrified at what you can spend in a week of eating out in comparison to just a day or two. It adds up so quickly. So if you fall off the wagon, the best thing to do is to get your budget out again. Sit down with your receipts and enter them into your check book and assess the damage. Nothing curbs spending like a little reality check. It is a little hard to face sometimes, but the sooner you do it the less it will hurt. Add up what your trip, clothing, eating out has cost you and then make a plan for paying it off. If you have put it on credit card, try to map out a plan for paying it off before you incur finance charges. Honestly, I would recommend even borrowing from your savings plan to avoid finance charges, but absolutely consider it a loan! Make a plan for paying your savings back just like you would have had to pay on your credit card. You may even need to put it into your budget if it is a significant amount.

But the bottom line is, don’t wait for next month, or even the beginning of the week to go back to budgeting. It’s OK to fall off the wagon. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t let fear in. Sometimes “falling off the wagon” can be wonderfully refreshing even if you have to sacrifice a little to pay for it. Just step up and face where you are, ask the Lord for his grace and keep on budgeting. Falling off the wagon isn’t the end of the world, it’s just a break in the journey. But don’t wait until the weekend is over, or until the end of the month to get back on. If you do you may just find that you now have a horrible hike on a dusty trail to even find the wagon again 🙂