Budgeting

Always Busting Your Budget Before the End of the Month? 3 Emergency Measures You Should Take Immediately

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Joanne Poh

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You might have devised an elaborate budget at the beginning of the year, complete with colour coding, spreadsheets and motivation graphics. But if you’re unable to stick to it, you may as well let your budget go the way of used toilet paper. You might think that exceeding your budget by a few hundred dollars is fine every once in a while.

But if you’re doing this consistently, unless your budget requires you to live a truly ascetic life, you probably just lack self-discipline. When the end of the month is approaching and you find yourself in danger of busting your budget yet again, here are a few emergency measures that can stop you from going over the edge.

 

Go into emergency mode

If you’ve done some serious damage during the month, it might be necessary to go into emergency mode for a period of time. Emergency mode doesn’t mean you learn how to survive through photosynthesis or start walking to work from your flat 20 km away. It does mean that you take your spending more than few notches down from your usual level.

Now, unless you’ve got debt collectors peering through the cracks in your front door, we don’t recommend you start stocking up on Maggi. As a rule of thumb, no matter how low you go, don’t forget to look after your health and wellbeing. That doesn’t mean you need to continue going to the spa to de-stress, nor does it mean you get to treat yourself with a nice wagyu steak at dinner. It does mean you continue to exercise and eat well, but on as low a budget as possible.

This is probably going to mean cooking at home, without meat if you’re really trying to save. It also means getting enough sleep so you can get up early enough to cycle or to take public transport to work instead of having to rely on cabs. But everything else, from your daily Starbucks coffee to cover charge to your favourite club stops, until the month is up. We mean it.

 

Schedule some at-home self-care time

When you’re trying to live on nothing but air, water and love, it’s easy to get depressed. Try to avoid that as negative emotions are that much more likely to convince you to throw in the towel and screw the budget altogether. Chances are you won’t be going out too much when you’re in emergency mode, since that will just increase your costs.

Instead of bursting into tears and preparing yourself for a day/week of drudgery, pencil in at-home self-care time on your calendar. As you ride out the days till the next month by staying home and spending as little as possible, take the opportunity to look after yourself.

This could mean curling up in bed and finally reading those books you bought but never had the time to delve into, treating yourself to a face mask or a bubble bath (well, if you have a bath, which most people in Singapore don’t), meditating or doing yoga in your living room. The trick is to make yourself feel relaxed and pampered enough to take your mind off the pain of not being able to go out. Hint: making actual plans rather than just drifting in front of the TV will increase your satisfaction levels.

 

Brainstorm ways to get through the next few days

So you’re about to bust your budget, but you’re not actually taking active steps to discover why this keeps happening month after month. Take this period of deprivation as an opportunity to not only review your spending habits but also to plan the days before the next month begins. If you just go about life as you usually do, you will just end up falling back into your old patterns and busting your budget yet again.

When you come to terms with how much money you have left for the rest of the month and everything you still need to spend on, you can then allocate a dollar value to each item you must purchase.

For instance, if you have $15 in your food budget and five working days left till the end of the month, you will know if you plan ahead that each meal can only cost a maximum of $3. That could motivate you to pack leftovers from dinner the night before or to skip buying a drink to keep your costs under that sum. Conversely, fail to plan and you’ll have no idea just what it will take to keep your spending within the limits set by your budget.

How do you keep yourself from busting your budget? Let us know in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.