Sometimes even the most frugal person feels like money is going out faster than it’s coming in. I’ve always been frugal. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always preferred to save my money instead of spend it. I love the feeling I get when I see a lower mortgage balance and a higher emergency fund balance each month. But even the most motivated savers go through times when it feels like money is going out faster than it’s coming in.

For the last couple months, my husband and I have been doing some remodeling. We’ve done the whole thing on a relative shoestring, spending about $3500 total (thanks to a lot of hours of working on it ourselves and help from my family, all we’ve had to pay for is supplies, and we managed to get a lot of stuff used). But now there are lots of other things that we’re tempted to buy for the house. Lots of little things, and used whenever possible, but still – it all adds up.

We’re getting a pretty big tax refund this year, and our incomes have gone up a bit over the last few months. We paid off all of our non-mortgage debt last year, and we’ve been feeling pretty comfortable with our finances. But right now I’m starting to feel like we’re leaking money all over the place.

We spent a lot more than usual on food over the last couple months, since we were eating out a lot more while we worked on our kitchen. And all the little trips to Home Depot are adding up. I love all the home improvements we’ve done, and I know we’ve done all the remodeling as frugally as possible. But $3500 is still a lot of money.

So how do we get back on track? First we need to sit down and reconcile our current financial situation. Our tax refund will help, but we’ve already earmarked that for IRA contributions, so it wouldn’t feel right to spend it on rugs and lights.

Then we need to make a complete list of the stuff we still need for the house. I think that the key to getting back to our frugal lifestyle is going to be organizing and prioritizing our extra spending over the next few weeks. If I can get everything written down with price tags attached and budget implications clear in my mind, I won’t feel so frustrated by how much money we’re spending.

Then we just need to stick to our list and make sure that we’re not being too spendy in other areas besides the home improvement projects that we’ve already begun.

I guess every frugalite has times when they spend more than usual. Whether it’s an emergency (hopefully with a well-stocked emergency fund in place) or a vacation or a new baby or a home remodel, there will always be months here and there when the normal budgeting rules don’t apply. For those of us who prefer to save than to spend, it can be frustrating to feel like we’re losing control of our finances.

But it’s good to take a step back and remember that sometimes money needs to be spent – that is what it’s there for after all – it’s just a matter of whether we want to spend it now or later. As long as we’re not going into debt to finance a vacation or home remodel, and as long as we’re still saving for the future, it’s ok to spend a little extra now and then. I know that we’ll be back to our normal frugal lifestyle within a few weeks, and it will feel good. But it will also feel good to have all these projects done, and I know that the money was well-spent.

How do you get back on track when you’ve fallen of the frugal-wagon?

Photo by exfordy.