Can I be honest with you?
We all make mistakes and succumb to impulse purchases that cause us to overspend. Recently, I went to Toys R Us to get a wagon for the twins. The twins were getting a little big for the stroller and it looked like it wasn’t comfortable anymore. Therefore, I decided to get a wagon. When we got to Toys R Us, my mom saw toddler bikes so she took them down so the kids could ride on them while we were in the store. The kids absolutely loved them! They were having so much fun that I decided to buy the bikes. Well, when you get a bike that means that you need a helmet for safety. If you are keeping count, then you notice that I went in for a wagon, but now I had 4 extra items in my cart. After I put the helmets in the cart, I quickly made my move to check out and get out of the store before I spent any more money. As I was waiting in line, my mom noticed a wading pool that was on sale near the front of the store that the kids “needed”. I didn’t understand why they would need it, but she thought that it was important, so I got it because it was “only” $7.99. Needless to say, I went to the store to buy a wagon but I ended up spending $260, which included 5 unplanned purchases. The redeeming factor of all of this is that Toys R Us price matches (even to Amazon) so I was able to “save” $60 on the purchase. Note, the $60 savings is WAY less than the $160 in overspending. If you are wondering, the kids love all of the stuff, and I’m actually happy with the purchases.
I share this with you because I want you all to know that I’m not perfect and we all make mistakes. However, in this journey, I think we judge ourselves based upon how straight we walk, but I think it is equally important to recognize how important it is to get back up. When you get back up, you re-commit yourself to making healthy financial decisions for the long-term. As I think about it, I think this finance journey is similar to our Christian journey. On this journey, we strive to be like Christ. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we experience a heart change and we have a desire to live more like Christ. However, although we are excited to follow Christ, we are still human and as humans, we sin. The key is that when we sin, we repent and then re-commit ourselves to serving Christ. Money management is no different. When we fall off the money management wagon, the key is to apologize to ourselves, review our budget to course correct, and then re-commit ourselves to the journey.
If you make a mistake and find that you overspent, I want you to go through these 5 steps to get back on track.
Step 1: Don’t stay down
Apologize to yourself and then give yourself grace. Understand that you are fallible and that the financial journey is really a marathon. It’s not a sprint. When you commit yourself to the financial journey, you’re not going to sprint out of the gate like you are a horse in the Kentucky Derby. Instead, it will be more like you are training for a marathon. I do not run marathons, but my bestie does, so please forgive me in advance if some of the analogy may not be technically correct, but you get where I’m going! Capisce *in my best Uncle Jessie Full House voice*. When training for a marathon, there will be good days and there will be more challenging days. Some days you will train and have energy leftover and other days you will feel exhausted and depleted. Similarly, there will be days where you make all good and healthy financial decisions and there will be days where the financial decisions will be good but they will be exhausting and will test all of your willpower. Also, there will be days where you will fail and you overspend or make bad money decisions. However, on the days where you don’t make the best decisions, like a marathon runner committed to the race, get back up and try again. Don’t stop and don’t quit because you think you failed. You only fail when you quit.
Apologize to yourself and then give yourself grace. Understand that you are fallible and that the financial journey is really a marathon.
Step 2: Identify what caused you to overspend
Taking stock of the people, places, things, emotions, and situations that caused you to overspend is critical. As you start to reflect and evaluate why you overspent, it helps you to either:
- Avoid putting yourself in that position again
- Make different decisions in those situations
For example, a couple of weeks later I went back to Toys R Us to get a ball for the twins, but this time I went in, I purchased the $2 ball I went in there to get and then I left. I didn’t get off track because I was disciplined and I made a conscious decision and a commitment to myself before I went in there to stay on track. I had to do that because trying to make adjustments to your budget after the fact can be challenging. This is why it is important to analyze your purchases and make different decisions going forward because overspending can cause you to dig a financial hole for yourself that will take a lot of sacrifice and difficulty to get out of.
Step 3: Celebrate the things that you do right
Even if you make a big financial fail (i.e. I forgot about an annual payment that wiped out my bank balance and overdrew my account on a day that other payments were coming out), know that there are things that you did well in that moment. For my financial fail, I hurried up and fixed the problem and then called the bank to request to have the fees removed. I recovered from that with very minimal damage, and in that situation I celebrated:
- My quick response to correct the problem
- The fees were waived (except 1)
- I learned to keep a better eye on irregular payments
Sometimes, it may seem like you have nothing to celebrate, but try to find something because it will help give you that added motivation to keep going. Additionally, it helps you avoid feeling like a helpless failure. If you linger in the mistake, then it will make it more challenging to get back up again.
Step 4: Develop a plan to recover
Once you make a financial mistake, the key is to start working on the recovery immediately. For me, I looked at what I had budgeted, where I was under and what I could pull from to avoid overspending for the month. This required sacrifice because there was less flexibility in my budget to do extra things. However, it was critical to make that adjustment in the current month to avoid impacting future months. Alternatively, if you are unable to make the adjustment in the current month, then take out your budget (this is why it’s important to have it) and then see what you can adjust going forward until you get back on track. If you need some additional help, then check out the post, (Anything Can Happen: How to Make Sure That You’re Ready for Tragedy Financially) to learn how to quickly cut your expenses or increase your income to stay afloat.
Step 5: Recommit yourself to the journey
This last step is extremely important. You have to realize why you are on this journey and why it’s important to stay committed. This is where you dust off your vision (if you want to learn how to create your vision then check out the post “Why Tax Time Is A Great Time For Single Moms To Catch Up On Their Financial Goals”) and remind yourself why you are making the changes. It’s not easy because change is difficult and sometimes it’s hard to practice delayed gratification. However, it is important to stay steadfast and keep going just as it is in our Christian walk. In Hebrews 10:36 the Bible says, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Remember, you aren’t just doing this for you. You are doing this for your children to create a financial legacy and a life that you all can be proud of.
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” – Hebrews 10:36
You aren’t perfect, and neither am I. However, what we can do is commit ourselves to being the best us that we can be. In this post, I outlined ways that to bounce back from a financial mistake, however, these same principles can apply to so many other aspects of our life. Remember, you only fail when you quit. Mistakes are a part of life, however, stay committed to the journey, stay true to Christ, and stay focused on the goal. You can do it.
Leave a comment in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group to let me know how this helps you!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!