budgeting,  saving money

How to Get Your Budget Back on Track

I hate the feeling of transferring money out of savings to cover our spending for the month. It sucks. How do you get your budget back on track after over spending? How do you get your spending to stop sucking money out of your account faster than you can earn it?

Get your budget back on track.

Be honest with yourself.

The first thing that we do is we get really real with ourselves. This is key to get your budget back on track. We review our transactions on Personal Capital. When those numbers go into our budget spreadsheet, the gravity of how much we overspent is very apparent.

Do NOT leave out those little one and two dollar charges where you swiped your card at the vending machine or gas station. Don’t leave out ATM withdrawals or savings transfers. You need to see every single transaction you made over the past month.

It is only when you are able to see the amount of money you spent, you’ll realize how badly you need to get your budget back on track.

Categorize your transactions.

It’s one thing to look at transactions and it’s another to categorize them. When you manually put them into your budget (or sort them through an app like Personal Capital), you see just how much money you overspent.

We use categories like:

  • Groceries
  • Eating Out
  • Pets
  • Baby
  • Car maintenance
  • Home maintenance
  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Mortgage
  • Dry cleaning

You get the idea. The more detailed you are about a category, the easier it will be to see where you overspent.

Review transactions to see where you spent the most.

Review all of your transactions once you have totaled them up.

Where did you spend the most money?


The biggest money grabs are groceries, eating out, and shopping. Highlight your top three categories (that aren’t your mortgage or rent). We’ll look at those next.

What can you do to reduce those expenses?

You’ve looked at all of your transactions, categorized them, and highlighted your trouble makers. Now it’s time to get creative with how you spend your money.

What are you able to do to either eliminate a charge (like cable), reduce a charge like your cell phone bill (we use Google Fi), or you can find an alternative with a frugal swap.

My favorite way to save money on groceries is by meal planning. I use a weekly meal planner with a grocery list side by side. Also in use is a monthly calendar. Get my meal planning bundle here and learn exactly how to meal plan and save the most money!

Keep your goal in mind.

Dan and I always do better when we have a goal. Most of the time it is vacation or a home DIY project. What do we have to do to get there? SAVE MONEY. This is only accomplished by getting our budget back on track and sticking with our budget.

Write it on your white board or put a sticky note on your fridge. Set your phone background to that beach view you could have if you save money for a trip. Maybe you need to get out of debt – keep a running total of all your debts in a spreadsheet and cross them off when they get paid in full. $0 balances are the best sight!!!

Stick to your budget and stay vigilant.

Once you get your budget back on track after over-spending, you can exhale that sigh of relief. It is hard work to stick to a budget after an influx of spending, but it is so worth the work!

Host weekly budget meetings with your spouse. Go over what you’ve both spent, how much cash you each have, and what else needs to be purchase or spent for the remainder of the month. This allows you to catch yourself over-spending before it gets out of control.

It’s okay to say no. And you don’t have to keep up with your friends! If you have friends or family that love to go out to eat all the time, let them know that you’re cutting back or just simply say “no thanks”. You don’t always have to go on shopping dates with your girl friends or grab a beer with your buddies after work. Saying “no” here and there really adds up.

When the month is done, look at your savings. When you get your budget back on track after over-spending, you’ll be amazed at the savings you find! Take a look at your budget at the end of the month (as you prepare for next month) and see how much you’ve saved. Once you cut those little things you don’t really need, your financial goals are much closer than you think.



2 Comments

  • buayifa

    The part I love most is “be real with yourself”. We’ve been living on a tight budget for over a year now.
    We have changed our spending habits to make our budget work. And it’s working.
    Great post!!

    • Amanda

      Everyone needs that “be real” moment. You can’t lie to yourself about your money. So happy that you too have overhauled your spending habits to make it work!

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