Housebreaking Your Spending


I’m getting a puppy! His name is Charlie. As you can see from his picture, he’s ridiculously cute. I’ve never had to house train a puppy before, so I’ve been gathering information like crazy.

I know Charlie will have some accidents in the house. This could be for any number of reasons. It could be:

  • because he doesn’t completely understand what I want him to do.
  • because I wasn’t as consistent as he needs me to be.
  • because he can’t quite hold it as long as I think he can.
  • that he tells me he needs to go out and I misread that signal.

The point is, when you’re housebreaking a puppy, accidents are a normal part of the process.

If…no, not if…WHEN Charlie has an accident in the house, it won’t mean that I failed as a dog owner. It won’t mean he’s a bad dog. It just means I need to pay closer attention to what’s going on and adjust my actions accordingly. That’s it.

Maybe we shouldn’t call them accidents. “Accident” has a negative connotation to it. Maybe we could call them…opportunities. That’s what they really are – opportunities to get better at this house training thing.

Okay, maybe that’s too far over the edge. 🙂

Anyway…this whole house training thing made me think about budgeting. (I know, I know…I really need to get out more.)

Budgeting has some components that “feel” like accidents.

  • You budget $400 for groceries. You end up spending $436.49. Shoot. You’re over by $36.49.
  • You manage to save up $500 for car repairs and you feel super proud of yourself. (You should feel proud!) Then the car breaks down and the repair is $700. Dang.

What worries me about these “accidents” isn’t THAT they happen. It’s the way people feel about them. We tend to feel shame when things don’t go perfectly. For some reason, we go right to:

“See? I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this budgeting thing.”

We’ve been taught that you shouldn’t ever change your budget. You’re supposed to stick to your budget, right? Nah. Trust me…a little flexibility with the short term stuff will help you stick to your budget in the long term.

Overspending is normal. It’s expected. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that it will happen. You will overspend. I overspend every month. I’ve been doing this for quite a while and I’m pretty good at this budgeting thing! Yet I consider myself a successful budgeter every time it happens.

In the beginning, you may find yourself overspending more. This is normal. You’ll get better at it with practice. Charlie will get better with practice too! He’ll gain a better understanding of my expectations and I’ll get better at reading his signals. Soon there’ll be less accidents! You’ll get better at knowing how much to budget in certain areas and where your trouble spots are. You’ll adjust and adapt as things crop up.

But remember, you can’t see everything that’s coming. Just do the best you can and repeat these words often: Overspending is a normal. Overspending is expected. I am doing fine.

Please trust me on this. It’s normal. It really is.