Life Commentary – “Oh S&%t, I Broke My Budget”

August 1, 2016
Budgets are not fool-proof. Sometimes they work and life happens and they stop working. Learn how to get back on track by adapting to life changes.
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I love encouraging others (and myself) to do what works for you. That principle applies when it comes to budgeting. You can’t expect certain scenarios or ideas to work the same for everyone, and yes, sometimes they achieve the same result, but often to the dismay of some.

What I mean is that 50/30/20 budgets may help everyone achieve the same end goal (covering your bills and savings without you going broke), but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to like that method. If you don’t like something, you are far less likely to stick to it in the long-term. Ya feel me?

With all of this being said, we found a budget (or a way of budgeting, I should say) that has worked well — up until recently. I like (wouldn’t say love) this method because it compliments that lazy ass side of me, but it’s not helping me aggressively achieve my goals. These last few weeks have been a wake-up call that our current budget set up has run its course.

I’m basically admitting that my budgeting system is broken.

Just because a particular method works for you now doesn’t mean that it will always work. People evolve, life changes and throws lemons at you, and I’m tired of being knocked in the head by those bitter pieces of fruit. It’s time to make some lemonade (hey, Bey!).

Now that I’m finally admitting that my budget is no longer doing what the hell it needs to be doing, I’m opening up the door again to all possibilities and exploring new systems that will help me do the following:

  1. To stop being so lazy
  2. To check in bi-weekly
  3. Help accelerate our debt repayment
  4. Build a bigger and better emergency fund

See, I mentioned in this post that we had a little air conditioning mishap pop up that set us back $8,500 dollars. Yeah… right when I’m ready to finally buckle down and start my aggressive student loan repayment. Can we say, suck much? This has thrown a monkey wrench into my plans to start aggressively paying down my smallest student loan.

Now I have to divert all of my side hustle income AND make payments on another monthly bill because it doesn’t sit well with me at all that this new HVAC system is financed at a rate of 9 FRICKIN PERCENT! I mean seriously; we have a better interest rate (2 percent) on our auto loan.

Needless to say, my lazy budgeting plan needs to be replaced so I can come up with some extra change to get this loan paid off immediately. I want it gone before next spring so I can refocus on my student loans.

But as if that wasn’t enough…

My husband has to have surgery.

Now this expense didn’t necessarily throw me for a loop as much because, after all, we have insurance. We also have a small emergency fund for expenses that pop up like this. However, since medical bills don’t have an interest rate and you can set up monthly payments, I’m not eager to knock the co-insurance that we’ll owe on this procedure.

Tired of me rambling? Okay, to the point…

My budget is broke and I need to fix the ish asap and carry on with life. Enters the zero-sum budget.

I’ve tried this budget before and while I’m not a fan, I really don’t see any other way to slay the demons that have been eating away at my carefully crafted lazy budgeting system.

Since I’ve started side-hustling, meal planning has gone out the window. My kids have decided that they don’t eat just about everything. I’m sleeping less, and the only thing I want to do after I step away from the computer is go to sleep. These circumstances have led to an increase in our food budget because we’ve been getting more takeout more than I would like to admit.

To overcome these challenges, I’m going to zero in on every expense, withdraw cash for groceries, and stick to the damn plan. I cannot eat away life at the expense of financial freedom.

This has also made me realize that a $3,500 emergency fund just ain’t going to cut it for me. I was naive thinking that we could get a new HVAC system for $3,500.

I thought that was a good enough amount for anything major happening to the house and I clearly couldn’t have been more wrong! I will be re-evaluating this and determine how we can beef up our ER funds as we pay off debt.

So now that I’ve gotten all of that off my chest, I’ll share a couple of articles I’ve found that will help me fix this mess. Thought I’d share just in case some of you are having an, “Oh S&% t” moment too.

The Power of  A Zero-Sum Budget – Get Rich Slowly

How to Repay Massive Amounts of Debt With a Zero-Sum Budget – Tay Talks Money

Any of you ever had a broken budget? Please share! What did you do to get back on track?

Budgets are not fool-proof. Sometimes they work and life happens and they stop working. Learn how to get back on track by adapting to life changes.

*P.S. – This is probably the first commentary piece here at LAAB on my little mishaps. I’ll occasionally post them to let you know when I screw things up… just to remind you I’m human and I’m no expert. I’m in the trenches right along with you.

Latoya Scott
CFEI/Social Entrepreneur
Latoya Scott is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and personal finance writer with a mission to help millennials learn how to stop living paycheck to paycheck so they can become financially carefree.

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  • Tia @ financiallyfitandfab August 1, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Isn’t it funny, when you think you have your budget under control life seems to laugh at you? We all have those moments. My computer is currently on its last leg AND I refuse to get a new one. It is 5+ years old and I didn’t keep it in the best condition. However, I didn’t plan on getting a new computer. My goal now is to side hustle to a new computer. 🙂

    P.S. I hope everything is okay with your husband!
    Tia @ financiallyfitandfab recently posted…How MJ Paid off Over $39,000 of Debt in 21 MonthsMy Profile

    • Latoya Scott August 1, 2016 at 11:03 am

      Ha! I know the feeling. I just had to replace my computer earlier this year. Replacing those suck!

      Thanks so much for thinking of my hubby. He had his surgery last week and he’s recovering well:)
      Latoya Scott recently posted…Life Commentary – “Oh S&%t, I Broke My Budget”My Profile

  • Amanda @centsiblyrich August 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    We use a zero-sum budget of sorts. We take all of the savings off the top, and live on the rest, trying to keep all expenses at their lowest. Sometimes we blow it and I have to borrow from savings, but it mostly works well for us and doesn’t take much effort to maintain after doing it for so long. I think the initial adjustment of switching to a new system can be tough, but once you get into the groove, it’ll be smooth sailing.

    Sorry to hear about your added expenses! But glad to see your husband is recovering well.
    Amanda @centsiblyrich recently posted…Growing Your Own Garden: Is It Worth It? (My biased opinion)My Profile

  • Scott @ Couple of Sense August 1, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Sorry you have having a rough go at things, and hope hubby is doing better! As hard as it might seem, you can take the opportunity to grow – if the zero-sum budget isn’t the way you want to do things but you have to suck it up for now; when you get back in line (and you will!) you can appreciate what you have even more.

    • Latoya Scott August 1, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks, Scott! Yeah, just a few bumps in the road to get over. I’ll just be glad when we can get to a point where we no longer use debt in emergency situations. Thanks for reading!

  • Frugal Familia August 1, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Dang I would have never thought that an HVAC system would cost that much either! Stick with the plan and I’m sure things will turn around for you in no time!

    • Latoya Scott August 1, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      Yeah, being a homeowner is not cheap! Thanks:)

  • Emily @ JohnJaneDoe August 2, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Great explanation of your thought process and explanation that when life happens, sometimes you gotta adjust. Hope your husband recovers quickly.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…State of the Blog: July 2016My Profile

  • Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life August 2, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    I love that you posted this because I’m starting to feel the same way. My system has worked so well for years, and all of a sudden (due to some huge life changes) it’s screwed up and confusing and I don’t like it. It’s hard to change things up, but I need to be open to a new budgeting system for sure. I hope you get you food budget figured out. When we’re both super busy, I plan the simplest possible meals so I don’t have any excuse not to eat at home.
    Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life recently posted…How to Earn Cash Back on Fruits, Veggies, & Non-Name Brand FoodMy Profile

    • Latoya Scott August 4, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      Hey Christine, I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing. Like having a lot of easy accessible main dishes (like already cooked crock pot shredded chicken and hamburger beef) on hand so I can throw a veggie to it and be done. Wow, writing that out totally gave me a plan:) Woo hoo!

  • Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore August 3, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Well it sounds like you have a plan now. The first thing you did right with this situation was admitting to yourself that it wasn’t working.
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…July 2016 ResultsMy Profile

    • Latoya Scott August 4, 2016 at 5:51 pm

      Thanks Kayla, yeah that was very easy to see. I can usually determine a breaking point when it comes to our money because I have a threshold I don’t like to fall under in our main household account. When I get it back above that threshold, I’ll know things are on the up and up again.

  • Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor August 8, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    After a major home repair last summer, we added a monthly “home repair” amount into our budget. We don’t spend it each month, but it’s there when we need it. It can be really hard to plan for every unexpected expense, though. I guess that’s what the emergency fund is for. It’s hard when you get hit with multiple unexpected expenses at once, though. Sorry to hear about yours.
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…5 Money Euphemisms to AvoidMy Profile

    • Latoya Scott August 8, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks, Kalie! Yes, we have learned and I think we definitely want to separate those home expenses from now on.