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A Plan of Action for a Blown Budget or Blown Diet

Creating an Action PlanWe all know of the similarities between losing weight and paying off debt. Well, since I’m in the process of doing both, and in the process of recovering from screwing up on both, I thought I’d be the perfect person to write an article on what to do about it. :-)  Read on for valuable tips for getting back on track when you’ve blown your budget or your diet.

Assess the Severity of the Blown Budget or Blown Diet

This first step is crucial. Your budget/diet crisis could be much better – or much worse – than you originally thought it was. Therefore, it’s important to make sure to quickly and properly assess the damage you’ve done by falling off the wagon. Did you blow your healthy eating plan by 200 calories or 2000 calories? Did you blow your budget by 5% or by 50%? Depending on how severe the damage is, your course of action will be different, as will your mindset in how you handle it.

Determine Why it Happened

What caused you to fall off of the budgeting or healthy eating wagon?  Was it an emotional response to a stressful situation, or an unavoidable expense such as a medical emergency?  Determining why your blown budget or blown diet happened is crucial to making sure it doesn’t happen in the future, or, if it does happen again, for having a plan already in place for dealing with it.

Make a Short-Term/Immediate Plan of Action

Did you eat way too much food at that BBQ last night? Put a plan of action in place that you can do for the next 7 days that will help you to make up for the error of your ways. Add an extra hour a day to your workouts, or make a plan to organize the house; figure out one or two or seven ways within the next week that can burn some serious extra calories, and commit to eating well.

In my case, I’ve been working on losing weight for several months, and thought I was doing well, however, a step on the scale at my brother’s house (we don’t own a scale) showed differently – instead of losing, I had gained 5 pounds! Although this was upsetting, I knew that throwing a pity party wasn’t going to help, so I made an immediate plan of action to totally cut out flour, sugar and processed foods.  This had worked well for me in the past, so I knew it would work again.

Did you blow a grand you shouldn’t have on a new flat screen TV or super trendy outfit? Figure out what you can do this week to recover: can you take the purchase(s) back? Can you make up the money with spur of the moment side hustles? Can you sell other things to make up for what you’ve spent? Can you be extra strict with your budget this month to recover the cash?

Make a Long-Term Plan of Action

Once you’ve assessed the damage, determined why it happened, and made a short-term plan of action, you’ll need a long-term plan of action, either to make sure this type of crisis doesn’t happen again, or to fix mistakes that might take longer than a week to recover from. In the case of eating healthier, what can you do to make sure you don’t have a huge binge session again? Do you need to ban sweets from the house for a while? Or make sure you go to parties with a full stomach? In the case of a blown budget, maybe it’s time to cut the credit cards up and start using a cash only system, or finding a trustworthy friend or relative to whom you can be accountable to for your spending.

In our case, Polar Vortex winter heating bills put a huge crater of a hole in our budget.  We are using short-term plan of action tips like those mentioned above, but we’re also using long-term plan of action tips, such as installing a wood burning stove this summer and putting aside extra money during these cheap energy months to pay our expensive winter energy bills. This will help ensure that we don’t have another budget-crushing winter should it be extra cold again.

Whenever a person is working toward a goal, mistakes and setbacks will happen.  They’re just a part of life.  It’s how we handle those mistakes and setbacks that makes the difference between failure and success, so if you’ve blown your budget or your diet this month, take the steps to recovery listed above, congratulate yourself for overcoming the obstacle, and move on forward toward your goal.


Image via tec_estromberg

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About Laurie

Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.


  1. I recently had a bit of a budget set back when our dog started having some serious issues regarding vomiting with blood. The vet bills are getting up towards $1,000 for the month and it certainly isn’t within the budget to cater for that kind of money.
    Glen @ How To Save Money recently posted..Save Money by Not Grocery Shopping While HungryMy Profile

  2. Tracking is so important for both diet/weigh loss and budgeting eh?

    Winter was brutal. Last year we went on a monthly budget with our power company so we wouldn’t be hammered with a $800 bill come February. Nice and even all year long!
    Catherine recently posted..Dreaming of Our Future BudgetMy Profile

  3. Nice correlation between the two Laurie. It’s crazy how similar the two of them can be and I’ve found I’m drawing a lot on my debt payoff journey now that I’m working to get in better shape. For me the plan is vital. I’m a visionary and I need something that I can draw on to help motivate me, otherwise I tend to get nowhere.
    John @ Wise Dollar recently posted..When is the Best Time to Buy Life Insurance?My Profile

  4. lol I did that this week after a long weekend of eating crappy bbq food, I kicked my own booty doing the sand dunes nearby. I’m pretty sure I only worked off one of the desserts I had though. :) If I spend too much, I usually try to sell something or at the very least donate something…so I don’t accumulate too much stuff.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted..Sacrificing a Small Trip Today for a Big Trip TomorrowMy Profile

  5. Well, I needed this…..Memorial Day weekend kind of screwed me :-) Getting back on the wagon though!

  6. Kind of a side note, since this is really more about debt than diet, but remember that weight can fluctuate greatly based on a few factors, including time of day, whether you’ve had a shower, water retention, dehydration and your, er, regularity.

    That’s why you’re supposed to weigh yourself at the same time every day. I’ve weighed myself before and after a shower and found a difference of a few ounces, if not more. My scale sometimes fluctuates my weight two or three lbs a day. It’s one reason I try to weigh myself daily just to keep a baseline. (Also, it helps me avoid dehydration in AZ. If I’m half a pound or so lighter than the day before, I go guzzle water.)

    So yeah probably some of that 5 lbs is weight gain, but it may be less than you’d think. I’ve stopped paying attention to the scale because I’m in my first trimester and don’t want to freak out over too-early weight gain and/or be tempted to cut calories. But by and large, I find a scale to be invaluable for tracking weight. Much as a budget is invaluable for tracking your spending.
    Abigail recently posted..Sometimes waiting pays offMy Profile

  7. I’ll admit it: I was terrible over the Memorial Day weekend. I ate and drank whatever I wanted, and spent money on it too. When I was younger I could eat whatever I wanted. Now I can easily gain 5 lbs! I also don’t have a scale, and don’t want one. But I just feel like I’m imbalanced. I am now sticking to mostly fruits and veggies, and sticking to no to low spending.
    Melanie @ My Alternate Life recently posted..Adjusting My Post-Emergency Fund BudgetMy Profile

  8. Determining WHY it happened is the most important part. Otherwise, you’ll just find yourself reacting to failures over and over again. Fix the root (proactive) problem and things will be MUCH easier!
    Travis @debtchronicles recently posted..Confession: I Broke My Number One Rule Of ShoppingMy Profile

  9. Great tips, Laurie! I’m so far off the healthy eating wagon that I’m trying to redirect and figuring out the why is really important. Thanks for inspiration!
    Broke Millennial recently posted..This is America, Right?My Profile

  10. Good advice. My response to blown budgets or fitness resolutions is to put my head back in the sand. I think your tactics would be much more effective. Thanks!
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted..Debt Reduction Garage SaleMy Profile

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