Overspending, Failure to Track Expenses, and A $100 Loan Equals….Success?

Trying to recover from overspending during the first half of July, Vonnie and I planned our spending  for the rest of the month with only bare bones funds available.  We even sat the kids down and explained to them exactly what was going on, so that they would have realistic expectations in regards to family activities for the remainder of the month. We had a plan that looked great on paper, and we were confident we could execute it successfully.

And then real life happened.

The first weekend was supposed to be one of those “enjoy what we have at home” kind of weekends.  Unfortunately, we had to travel out of town for the funeral of a very close family member of Vonnie’s. Some extra expenses were incurred, but we were able to rework our plan to make it whole again.

During the week, Vonnie went on a walk with one of her friends, and vented a little bit to her about our  financial strain. Her friend offered to loan us some money to help us get to the next payday. Vonnie politely declined, determined that we could do it on our own.

The second weekend was Tristan’s end of the season baseball tournament. We watched our son’s team win game after game. In fact, they ended up winning the entire tournament. After the championship game, the coach suggested that we all go to the bar and grill that was the team’s sponsor for dinner to celebrate a great year. It seemed so unfair to tell Tristan that he couldn’t celebrate with his team because his parents had overspent. So we went, keeping our bill as low as possible by having Vonnie and I share an inexpensive appetizer (planning to eat a full meal when we got home), and just having water to drink. However, even with those efforts, we brought our available funds dangerously low.

We were just a few days away from having dug ourselves out of our overspending hole, but we were uncomfortable with where we were at.

Remembering the conversation with her friend, my wife walked across the street and took her friend up on her offer. She returned with $100 which we agreed to put into an envelope, and promised not to touch unless we absolutely had to.  Two days later, we gave the $100 back to our neighbor and thanked them. But the whole sequence of events made me feel sick to my stomach. This whole ordeal came about because we didn’t accurately track our expenditures during our trip to Kentucky, and my class reunion.

It wasn’t that we didn’t have enough money, it’s that we didn’t use it wisely.

Now that we’re past this bump on the road,  I reflect back on this experience as an important growing experience for Vonnie and I.  Although we failed miserably the first half of the month, the second half of the month had flashes of great communication and financial teamwork.   Vonnie and I both knew exactly where we were at financially at all times.  Making the plan, and reworking the plan was a joint effort.  Every expenditure was a conscious decision agreed to by both of us.

We were a team, and it felt good to be acting like one.  Even if we weren’t championship material.

About Travis

6 Responses to “Overspending, Failure to Track Expenses, and A $100 Loan Equals….Success?”

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  1. There are times when a “bump in the road” (nice phrasing!) turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

    Here’s a way to turn that into a step up: next month, take $100 and put it in an envelope. See if you can end the month not touching it. Then return it to your new neighbor: the savings account. My wife and I found the visual of something like that works. Don’t ask me why, but it does. You saw it. 🙂

    • Travis says:

      Both Vonnie and I are visual people too…..it just might work! We had talked about putting money immediately (instead of into an envelope) into a slightly harder account to access – like an impulsesave account. It would take a few days to get the money back into our own account, so it would be harder to access, and harder to spend.

      The idea is the same though, right? Save money….don’t spend it all. Thanks for your suggestion!

  2. Bill Westrom says:

    Very, very common story; too many bumps in the road; daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
    Unfortunately, its virtually impossible to avoid the bumps, but the question is how to make sure they don’t derail you.

    Do you ever wonder what your money was doing in your checking account while you were splitting an appetizer and drinking water?
    Have you ever heard of offset accounting? It is the same principle behind ‘sweep’ accounts. Here is a free ebook I found that is the best I’ve seen on the principles of offset accounting. bit.ly/NWiOqI

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for the pointer, Bill – I’ll download it and check it out when I get a little time. I’m going to be sitting on an airplane flying to India in the near future – that may be a perfect time to give it a read!

  3. You guys seem like you make a really awesome team actually. As diligently as you plan a budget, sometimes life gets in the way but the important thing is what you do next. You guys really nailed it and managed to stay on budget – and you even communicated with your kids so they’d know what to expect. Not only did you find a way to stay on budget, but you are setting a good example for your children for their future. Well done!

    • Travis says:

      Thanks so much for the positive encouragement! I just hope that one day those “bumps in the road” that we have to recover from are from things unexpected – and not from indiscretions of our own doing. It’s great to hear from you again! 🙂

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