The last month or so has been a tough one for our finances. All five of us have been off from school and work. We’ve had some business-related travel, birthdays, anniversaries, and grad parties. We’ve been busy with summer camps and appointments.
We were lured into some great sales and we ate out far too much. My coupon binder was woefully neglected. I was in a bit of a financial funk and off of my saving game. So it was time to make some changes.
How to Get Out of a Financial Funk
I knew that if I was to help others save money, I was going to need to get out of the downward spiral of spending indiscriminately. I was going to need to come up with simple ways to get back on track. So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on these steps.
If your finances are stuck and you’re spending like you don’t care about money, try making these changes and see if you can’t turn things around.
Crunch the numbers.
That’s right, folks. It’s time to get real with your bad self and really figure out just how horrific your spending has been. If you’ve been tracking your expenses, it should be pretty to easy to see the damage you’re causing. If you’re not tracking, start! Go through those old receipts and ask yourself whether those expenses were necessary. Determine what you could have done differently. Seeing the cold, hard cash that’s flowing through your fingers with reckless abandon is a good start to getting back on track.
Get back to basics.
Whenever I’ve gotten out of the habit of being frugal and saving money, I try to get back to the basics. I start by making a menu plan based on what’s in my pantry, making shopping lists based on what’s on sale (and sticking to the lists!), and doing those little things that save money like line-drying my clothes or making freezer meals.
Find some inspirational reading.
You’re already reading this blog, which is a good place to start! I love to find a good money-saving read at my library or go back to my frugal beginnings by re-reading my favorite frugal books. A little reading about ways to save money can go a long way in inspiring you to make positive changes in your life.
Stop thinking about finances… for a little bit.
It seems counter-intuitive to stop thinking about money when you’re in the middle of a spending spiral. I mean, isn’t that what got you into this financial funk to begin with? But here’s the thing… your spending spree is occurring because you’re not thinking about saving. You’re still thinking about finances. You’re just either feeling guilt because you know you’re spending too much, or you’re worrying about how you’re going to make ends meet because of your spending. Take a short break from thinking about money. A short break can help provide you with some much needed clarity when you resume your frugal ways.
Try something new to save money.
Trying something new to save money can help you break out of that financial funk. You may find a great new way to improve your finances, or you may discover that it’s not for you. Either way, you’ll break out of the rut you’re in. I like to try to negotiate lower rates for services or try a new recipe when I’m in need of a change. I might try to find a new thrift shop or research a crafty hobby that can save me money.
Sometimes the best way to break out of a funk is to create a challenge for you and your family. For example, I’ve done a 30-day no eating out challenge and a no-soda challenge. You may want to try a spending freeze or challenge yourself to make more things from scratch. A challenge – particularily if you can get friends and family on board, can be a fun way to save money and learn something about yourself in the process.
Give yourself some grace.
Forgive yourself for your spending mistakes. Do not make excuses for them, just realize that they were mistakes and that you are sorry for them. Then let go of the guilt and get to work on changing things. If you think your spending habits are indicative of a larger compulsive spending problem, consider getting professional help. There’s no shame in talking through your problems with a professional. Sometimes you have to fix yourself before you can fix other trouble areas in your life.
Making positive changes in your personal finances starts today and it starts with the small changes you make. We all get off track sometimes. The important thing is that you recognize when that happens and take steps to get back on track and get out of that financial funk.