Home » Paying off Debt: How to Recover From a Blown Budget Month

Paying off Debt: How to Recover From a Blown Budget Month

I originally published this post four years ago, but thought it was worth repeating. If you’re on a debt payoff or wealth building journey, and have spent the last month (or more) totally screwing up your budget – or if you read my post from Monday and are ready to start taking MASSIVE action, read this first.

Greetings, friends!!!!  I’ve been largely AWOL this week in the PF blogisphere, due to some personal happenings that I will likely share about tomorrow, but I did want to get in this post today.  As a preface to our July recap, let me just say that we’ve absolutely blown our July budget to bits, some our fault, and some not our fault.

But since I know it happens to so many others, I wanted to especially encourage those of you who are on getting out of debt journeys and have fallen off the wagon, so to speak.  It’s easy after falling off the budget wagon to want to throw in the towel on your debt free journey, but please….DON’T.  You can pay off your debt.   You can succeed at being debt free.

Here are some tips for you if you’ve trashed your budget in a particular month and are feeling like giving up.

1.  Stop Focusing on the Fail

Epic fail or not, it is what it is, as my little brother likes to say.  You’ve completely trashed your budget for the month.  Or for the quarter. Or for the year. This is not the time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself or beating yourself up for your mistakes or for caving when life throws financial crap your way.  That won’t help.

Getting back up on that horse will, however.  You’ve made it this far, don’t stop now!

2.  Make a Recovery Plan

You’ll hear more about the specifics of our epic budget fail in our July recap, but the important part of dealing with a fail is making a plan to recover from it.  Sit down, figure out the specifics of your mess, as in, how much you blew your budget by.  If you’ve accumulated credit card debt after a commitment to not use the cards, figure out a plan to get back to where you were before the budget blow.  Find ways to reduce your spending this month to make up for last month’s extra expenses.  And find ways to earn extra money for your recovery plan.

Related Reading: The Frugal Farmer’s Guide to Feeding Your Family for Less

Frugal living at its best:

The Good Life for Less: Giving Your Family Great Meals, Good Times, and a Happy Home on a Budget

How to Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Any

3.  Get Extreme, and Get Committed

Just for a short period of time, say 30 days, decide that you are going to do everything in your power to make up for last month’s overages in spending.  Find ways to earn $100 fast.   Cut your budget, extreme-style.  Commit to a no-spending month, or a necessity-only spending month.  Or commit to working lots of overtime or selling lots of stuff to make up for the shortages in cash.

If you’re really motivated, get extreme for the long haul by learning how to take MASSIVE action.

Be prepared to change. Remember: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you really want recovery and permanent financial change, choose to do things differently. 

In short, don’t let your fail define you, let the fact that you chose to overcome your fail define you.  You can do it!


  1. Article still holds up! Having unexpected expenses or just plain rebelling against your plan is a natural part of the process. We build ‘fun money’ into our budget to help avoid that ‘woe is me’ spending spree. I still believe that as long as you have a budget and intend to follow it, you are better off than most people who have no idea where their money went. Get back on track and push harder the next month!

  2. Dave says:

    Some times things don’t go as planned. Over the past two months we got hit hard with a few car and home repair bills. It totaled over $2k. All we were able to do was pay for the repairs and move on. We will just replace the money over the next month or two.

  3. Mrs. Groovy says:

    Glad you rolled this one out again, Laurie!

    The recovery plan is the best way to stop yourself from holding onto the failure, and the guilt associated with it. Coming up with actionable steps focuses your attention in a positive direction. Later on, the failure will just be a small blip on the screen of the past.

    • Laurie says:

      Guilt used to be a huge roadblock for us, and it always drug us down into non-action. We are SO done with that now and it’s awesome!

  4. I think that was the hardest thing for me was not beating myself up over some of the stupid financial decisions that I made. My wife still teases me about the stupid car that I bought. I thought it was so cool and she thought it looked like a stupid space ship. Clearly she married me despite my poor taste in cars 😉 Anyway looking back I wish I had saved the money to apply towards some debt and a more practical car. Since I sold it shortly after we got married for half of what I paid for it. Definitely not my wisest decision.

    • Laurie says:

      We all have those, Rob. 🙂 In 1999/2000, we bought a brand new minivan and a brand new pickup truck within a 12 month period!! We still have the pickup, but I cringe when I remember the payments on them both.

  5. I recently read “Learned Optimism” by Martin Seligman and he talks about changing the inner dialogue within ourselves when we mess up on a goal we set, using the ABC’s. A is for adversity (slipping up on the budget), B is for behavior (how we respond to messing up – either with self loathing which usually makes things worse, or by accepting that we made a mistake and that we’ll do better tomorrow), and C is for consequence (the result of our behavior – either quitting altogether or trying again with more resolve). I didn’t do the explanation justice, but it’s really helped me deal with self-disappointments so I figured I’d share 🙂

  6. Hey Laurie,

    just discovered your great blog – congrats!! I agree with you that it all comes down on how bad you want it. If you have passion, commitment, patience and discipline you can move mountains. If you have the time you can check out my blog post about saving.

    Do you know the book “the dividend mantra way” by Jason Fieber? He was broke, had debt and then decided to take some extreme saving methods. He combined it with dividend growth investing and after only 7-8 years he is financially independent. –

    Since the end of 2015 i’m on my own journey to “Financial Independence”…

    Greetings from Germany,

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