You had a budget! You had a plan! What went wrong? If you blew through your budget, here's how to recover.

It’s happened to all of us. We started out with good intentions. We had a budget, we had a plan! And then somewhere along the road, it all fell apart.

Whoopsie.

You’re probably panicking right now. Totally freaking out about how you’re going to pay your bills and recover from this disaster. Don’t worry, sister. It’s going to be okay.

Now, it’s incredibly important for you to take action and get back on track for next month before things really get out of control. Otherwise you might find yourself in a downward spiral and a huge pile of debt that seems ridiculously hard to climb out of.

Unfortunately, unless you have a large windfall of cash coming your way, fixing your budget is going to take some effort and self-discipline, but it’s completely possible!

Below are 10 ways to get money back into your bank account ASAP, how to save some cash over the next few weeks, and a couple tips on how to prevent this again in the future.


Things you can do immediately to get some money back into your bank account:

1. Can you return anything?

Sometimes we get off track because we came across a deal too good to resist or we just get a little too swipe happy (it happens to all of us — especially during the holidays). Go through your recent purchases and return anything that you don’t actually need or want.

Try to remember: If you’re broke afterwards, it’s not a good deal.

2. Can you sell anything?

If you bought stuff to replace things you already have, try selling your old, gently used items on Craigslist, eBay, Poshmark, or in dedicated Facebook groups.

(I personally don’t think you should treat this as a sustainable way to continuously make up for going over your budget, but it can work in a pinch if you do have stuff you want to get rid of anyway.)

3. Trade in your gift cards for cash.

If you have extra gift cards laying around, now is the perfect time to swap those cards out for cash. Use a service like Cardpool to get the job done.


Extra ways to save money in the next two weeks:

1. Eat out of your pantry.

Instead of going grocery shopping or ordering food, make a meal plan around what you already have. Chances are you’ve got some pasta hiding in a cupboard and some extra veggies stashed away in your freezer. If you do need to get some supplemental things at the grocery, it will cost you way less than if you had to do a full trip or ate out.

It’s a small sacrifice to get your budget back on track. Plus you’ll get to be more creative then usual. A win-win in my book!

2. Do a no-spend challenge.

Even though you’re off track, wouldn’t it be great if your bank account balance could be the same two weeks from now? Challenge yourself to spend approximately zero dollars until your next payday. Just say “no” to lunch outings, extra coffee, etc. It’s only two weeks, you can do it.

Here’s our post on how to have a successful no-spend challenge if you’re wary.

3. Make a transfer to your savings account (and don’t use your credit cards).

Pretend you have even less money than you actually do by making a transfer to your savings account. If it’s not available to be spent, you can’t spend it.


Tips for preventing going over your budget in the future:

1. Make a “gift fund” part of your budget.

Since it’s January, your holiday shopping might be the reason you’re over budget. I suggest making a “gift fund” part of your monthly budget and starting to save now for the next round of holiday gift-giving.

Even saving $50 a month will give you $550 over the course of 11 months. Meaning you can do your holiday shopping without even touching your December budget. Cool, right?

2. Practice delayed gratification.

Are you buying stuff just because it’s there? What if you hadn’t walked into that store? Chance are the universe isn’t trying to give you some divine intervention saying you need this thing right now just because you saw it.

If something catches your eye, make a note of it and keep walking. If you still want it next week or after your next payday, consider purchasing it if it’s in your budget.

3. Use unroll.me to unsubscribe yourself from marketing emails.

If salse-y emails with coupon codes and deals are getting you to spend money you weren’t planning on spending, it’s time to unsubscribe!

Unroll.me is super easy to use. It turn your inbox into a list of your subscriptions and gives you the option to unsubscribe from all of the emails you don’t want to see.

4. Reevaluate your budget according to your spending habits.

No budget is one-size fits all. It’s really important that you make your budget fit your lifestyle. Jessica wrote a fantastic post on how to How To Create a Budget That Works With Your Spending Habits, if you’re struggling to understand what expenses are important to you.

We also have a fantastic Monthly Budget Printable for you to use in our Resource Library! Just click the photo below to grab it!

Make budgeting easy with our free printable!


If you blew through your budget, don’t worry — it will be okay. It just means you’ll have to take extra care to get back on track and avoid repeating the mistake in the future.

Discussion: Have you ever blown through your budget? How did you get back on track?