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Fell off the wagon


I’ve got a confession. I fell off the wagon. I am disappointed in myself, but it is what it is. All I can do is pick myself up, dust myself off, and jump right back on. Here’s what happened.

It all started early on Wednesday morning. I was talking to my Mom on the phone and during the conversation I tried to throw my husband a blanket but accidentally threw my phone along with the blanket (no idea how it happened – freak accident). Well, the phone fell face down on our tile floor and the screen shattered into a million pieces. It was unusable. I cannot go without a phone (we have no land line so during the day when my husband works my cell is the only way I have to contact people and/or dial 911 in case of emergency).

I quickly came up with a game plan for the day. I had a TON of work to get done, so I would drop the girls off at daycare, run by the grocery store, and come back home to call around about screen replacements (I’d already looked up several places, but none opened until 9am), and get my phone situation handled. With any luck, I’d be done by noon and still have a solid 4.5 hours to work before needing to get the girls from daycare.

So I started off on my day. Dropped off the girls at 9am and went to the grocery store. Mistake #1 – I forgot my money envelopes! Doh!!! No time to go home, so I just used my debit card. First stop was Sprouts (for produce and cheese), next stop was Albertsons (they’re having amazing meat sales so I stocked up on ribs and steaks). Surprise, surprise…these trips caused me to go over my grocery budget (not by a lot, but still disappointing. Numbers below).

I come home, rush to put groceries away, and call several places about screen repair. Cheapest I could find was $110, but they were booking a week in advance. This was not an option. I literally couldn’t even hold my phone to my ear because the shattered glass was cutting me! I needed same day repair. Cheapest price I could find was $150. Ouch! This busts my budget, but I consider my phone an absolute necessity, so I’ll chalk this up as an “emergency fund” item (to clarify – I did not have to dip into our emergency fund since we had enough money to cover it, but I do consider this a type of emergency that would require the money even though it busts the budget). I rush to the mall (believe it or not, the Apple store was actually the cheapest place). It’s about 10:30am.

I wait in the lines to talk to a Genius, go over the issue, and by the time I hand off my phone its 11am. I’m told it will take 30-45 minutes and to come back at that time. So I walk around the mall.

Here’s where things really go downhill…..

My hands are dried and cracking. I wash them about a million times a day (before preparing food and snacks, after diaper changes, washing dishes, etc etc etc), plus I live in the Arizona desert climate. My hands look rough (they literally crack and bleed around the knuckles. Cute stuff). I LOVE Aveda’s hand cream so I drop into the store and buy a bottle. Nevermind the $22 price tag. (ouch!)

I’m still walking around. Now it’s about 11:30 and I’m getting hungry. Guess I’ll buy a sandwich and drink. $12 later I’ve now busted my “eating out” budget that I’d worked so hard to stay within all month.

I go back to Apple, pick up my phone, and pay the bill. After taxes and everything it amounted to $159.

It was 2 days before the end of the month and I went from being at or under-budget in every category (other than “other”…see below) to going over budget in just about every category. : /

Final spending for the month in my Money Envelope Categories:

  • Groceries: Budgeted = $380, Actual = $406
  • Entertainment: Budgeted = $20, Actual = $17
  • Eating Out: Budgeted = $75, Actual = $87
  • Personal Maintenance: Budgeted = $20, Actual = $28
  • Other: Budgeted = $125, Actual = $293

Every single overage was caused on this one single day. Groceries because I forgot my money envelope and just bought stuff on debit. Eating out because of the stupid $12 sandwich and drink I bought (wasn’t even very good). Personal maintenance because of the pricey Aveda hand cream. And “Other” (mostly) because of the iphone screen repair. I say “mostly” because I had gone over by $9 already prior to Wednesday, but then the broken phone really exacerbated things.

What have I learned?

  1. Don’t forget the dang money envelopes!
  2. Apparently if my plans go out the window I say “screw it” and spend with reckless abandon???
  3. Stress exacerbates my spending problems!

I was certainly stressed about the broken phone and the copious amounts of work I needed to get to at home. I think my rush and stress fed into these spending issues. I knew I didn’t have money to buy a $22 hand lotion but I guess I just blocked it from my mind. And I knew I was already at my limit for eating out, but I rationalized that I needed to eat and I was stuck at the mall so might as well get something (even though I could’ve waited the extra 30 minutes until I got back home).

I really have no good excuses. We all make mistakes. I’m glad I have to come report here to you and be held accountable so this little spending-binge was isolated to a single morning, rather than continuing on for the rest of the week (in an “oh screw it, I’ve already busted the budget” type of fashion).

One thing that makes me feel slightly better is that we did save a little bit on daycare this month. There were 2 days when our childcare provider’s kids were sick so the girls had stayed home with me. So I did save $100 on childcare. Of course I busted the budget by OVER that amount, so it doesn’t “make up” for my over-spending but it does make me feel a little less sting from my expenditures.

Onward. June is a new month. Budget update later today.

How do you recover from over-expenditures? How do you get back on track when your budget has been derailed?


  • Reply Susan |

    Oh, Ashley, I know how you feel! So … the bad news is you went over your spending limits by quite a bit. But, the good news is that it thankfully happened at the end of the month rather than at the beginning. I find that if I screw up in the beginning, I figure the whole thing is messed up and I have a hard time getting back on track. If I am over by $20 in the beginning, well I may as well be over by $100 is the way my mind works. Not good.

    I say you take a breath, turn the page in your calendar — June! And start again. Do get into the habit of keeping your money envelopes where you can grab them quickly. If you get in a place like a mall again and are feeling tempted, come up with something to keep you focused. Walk briskly for exercise? Count how many people are wearing white tennis shoes? Sit down and make lists (you are a young Mom, you must need lots of lists!)? Keep some stationery in your purse, so you can sit down and write a letter? My favorite is to keep a couple of paperback books in my car for when I have to sit and wait. Can’t get into money troubles if you are sitting still reading!

    • Reply Ashley |

      This is SO ME! I definitely have the mentality of “oh well, budget is already busted so I guess I’ll just spend.” In that regard, you’re right that its a good thing this was at the end of the month because it probably kept me from spending even more. On the other hand, I was so bummed since I’d worked so hard ALL MONTH LONG and ended up killing it two days before the month ended. Ouch!
      I love these suggestions though – you don’t know this about me, but I am an AVID list-maker! I definitely could have sat down and killed an easy 30 minutes making important “to do” type lists! Some great ideas here I never would’ve thought about (e.g., count the white shoes) – great ideas!

  • Reply debtor |

    So aside from the grocery and the other i don’t think the overages are terrible. You can even those numbers out over the course of a year. My advice is to keep a mental idea of how much is in your envelope. If you knew how much you had left for the month, there was no reason to go over at the store, because as soon as you reached a certain amount, you’d have stopped adding to the cart (or asked the salesperson to stop ringing up if mental math is not your thing).

    I grocery/household shop knowing how much I have left for the month and then add up the cost of the items as I go along. Sometimes I underestimate tax and have to take an item out at checkout.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t beat myself up about the overage. I tend to look at the budget in a longer term view anyway. If you strive to go under in those categories in the next couple of months, you’ll be good.

  • Reply klm |

    So, there’s the saying(s) that if you get a flat tire, you don’t decide to put holes in the other three/ if you drop an egg, you wouldn’t decide that you should toss the other 11 on the floor too…. easier said than done, but I do like the “don’t make it worse” message.
    I would agree with PP about the phone–it’s just one of those things that happens.
    As for eating out, lesson learned (and don’t wander the mall at lunch time!). You might try keeping a granola bar or something in your purse to keep from giving in to the food court temptations. Just like I bet you have snacks for the girls whenever you go out.
    You mentioned on the grocery budget that you got some great deals on meat. Can those carry you through next month? Could you drop your grocery budget by $26 to try to even it out?

  • Reply adam |

    yikes, tough day.

    you could have gotten a new phone for $159, I can’t believe it cost that. we did one of those once and it was $50 and done in 10 minutes on a walk in basis at the mall.

  • Reply Scooze |

    Okay, lesson learned. Can you keep some (cheap) hand cream in a little travel bottle in your purse? And you need a mall strategy. You’ll probably end up at a mall or some other store that sells fun, enticing things again. If you can’t resist the temptations, can you wait in your car, or bring a book to read? Something like that.

    I’ve recently been reading that willpower is like a muscle. It gets tired and doesn’t work well if you’re tired or stressed or upset. So if you know you’re feeling those things (due to breaking your phone and being in a hurry) try to recognize the situation and figure out how to remove yourself from temptation.

    Anyway, that’s what I’m trying to do. Still trying…. 😉

    • Reply Ashley |

      I’ve never thought about willpower like a muscle, but it definitely makes sense! Thanks for the suggestions!!

  • Reply Denise @ My House, My Rules |

    I think we all have days when we don’t meet our own expectations. it sucks, but it is just one day in this long battle. You will move on and be fine. if you want to teach yourself a little ‘tough love’ how about lowering your budget amounts by 10% for June… it would help you save back some of what you spent and it would also serve as a reminder of what happens when you over spend on a whim.

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    I wouldn’t beat yourself up too badly about this. It happens. And I think when we have a day that gets thrown out of whack we’re more likely to overspend/overeat/etc. Something about having a routine keeps us in inline, but when the routine is upset then we slip.

  • Reply AS |

    Wow, Apple likes to gouge you at every step of the game. Purchase, upgrade, accessories, support contract, service. Third parties ultimately have to buy their supplies from Apple anyway so they can’t be much cheaper. You could save a truckload of cash over a lifetime by ditching Apple technology and buying equivalent – or better – competing technology..

    Now, does your credit card (gasp!) have an extended warranty, damage / repair protection, or similar provision? Some cards (Visa Signature, I believe) will pay for this even if the damage was your fault.

    • Reply Ashley |

      We don’t have the credit card warranty services. I know we’ve been offered them before, but they come at some cost and I’ve never agreed to have it added.

      • Reply AS |

        The extended warranty I’m talking about isn’t something you pay for. It’s an automatic (free) benefit to the credit card.

        Extended warranty, price protection, return protection, rental car damage insurance, etc are examples of automatic credit card benefits offered by *some* cards, they (and the warranty protection) are usually all described in a tiny font insert that comes your card when you open it or if they change the benefits.

        If you know for sure your card doesn’t offer this, fine, but if you are not sure give them a call.

        • Reply Ashley |

          oh, okay. I’ll have to give them a call and see! Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply Shoeaholicnomore |

    It happens to all of us from time to time. Just pick yourself up and try to do better next time. Now you know that stress causes this to happen. Since you are aware, it should be easier next time a stressful situation comes up. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • Reply Jean |

    Sorry about your bad day. We all have them. Tomorrow is another day, and you have an opportunity to make better choices. I second the comment about keeping a snack in your purse. And have you tried coconut oil for your hands? It’s not cheap, but it’s not $22/bottle, either. Coconut oil has a lot of different uses, so even if it doesn’t work for your hands, you could use it for something else – Google it and you’ll be amazed!

    • Reply Ashley |

      I actually have a giant Costco sized thing of Coconut oil and I LOVE it for all types of things. That being said, it can’t even TOUCH the moisturizing needs I have for my hands. I should post a picture….its really ridiculous.

      • Reply hannah |

        Just wanted to throw out a couple thoughts. One, have you had your skin issues looked at to make sure it isn’t something more than just dryness?
        Two, have you thought about changing your washing habits? Maybe switch to a mild soap without harsh additives and antibacterial junk, or start using warm water instead of hot? You could also be using too much soap, or washing with soap when it isn’t necessary.
        Also, try using a little amount of coconut oil after every wash. Coconut oil is one of the best things for skin dryness, so it really SHOULD be making a difference. The fact that it isn’t is rather concerning.

        • Reply Ashley |

          I haven’t had it looked at, but I’d never had issues before living in Arizona (previously we lived in much more humid climates).

  • Reply TPol |

    Ouch! This happens to me every once in a while especially when I decide that on a given week/month, I would stay out of trouble. I do not have any debt so, those splurges do not really break my bank but they jeopardize my savings. When this happens, I try going on a spending fast. Here is what I do:
    1. I leave my cards home and carry only the necessary amount of cash.
    2. I pack a small bag of nuts and crackers. Breakfast bars and granola type things make me even more hungry so, nuts are my best friend. I am allowed to snack on a couple crackers and 10-12 hazelnuts or almonds.
    3. I always carry a bottle of water with me.
    4. I try to get creative with homecooking by using meat and cheeses sparingly and cooking more grains and legumes. Eggs are also cheap and I make many egg dishes (like fritattas) which are filling.

    I would recommend keeping a small jar of hand cream in your purse like other commenters suggested. I also would carry the envelopes in my purse at all times. I am sure you will recover your losses in the coming months. Don’t be discouraged. You are doing great, keep up the good work!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks for all the great tips and for the encouragement! I really appreciate it!

  • Reply DC - Kate |

    Just two things. First, I hope you get a strong case for your phone. I got an Otterbox through groupon for about $7, and although it makes my phone more bulky, it really is durable. Second, that hand cream is wonderful, but really a budget buster. Next time someone is looking to buy you a gift, maybe tell them how much you love that hand cream.

    • Reply Ashley |

      whoa – $7?! I just replied to someone else saying that I thought those things were selling for nearly $100 at the mall! Whoa! I’ll have to check Groupon and/or other sale-sites!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Also, totally agree about asking for the lotion as a gift. I have never been a big spender on make-up, but I have a weakness for lotions and I know the Aveda stuff is really, really good. But it certainly doesn’t justify that type of expense!

  • Reply scarr |

    I have experienced the same issue when I’ve had small emergencies. I use the crisis as an excuse to throw my restraint out the window. Making mistakes like over spending on things you don’t need is bound to happen to anyone. YOu are right, the best you can do is move on and learn from this experience.

    I feel like glass is the the WRONG material for phones. Even super-duper strong glass can be easily broken with one little drop. Did you buy one of those ridiculous cases that could make it possible for your phone to survive the apocalypse 🙂

  • Reply TENN |

    Otterbox has excellent customer service. They will replace the case if it breaks within a year.

So, what do you think ?