Listen to Dory. Just keep swimming.


Great movie. I LOVE Dory. She has such a positive attitude.

I’m convinced that we live in a “succeed or fail” society. Success is good, failure is bad, and in many areas it seems to be an all or nothing thing. That can be a very destructive mentality to bring into budgeting.

“I overspent in groceries, I failed at budgeting.”

“I haven’t updated my budget for 2 weeks. I failed at budgeting.”

“I didn’t save enough for that car repair. I was short $100 – I didn’t realize the car would need brakes and tires. I failed at budgeting.”

“Ugh, I’m going to have to lower my clothing category so I can have more money to cover that birthday present I bought. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so much on it. I failed at budgeting.”

That’s just silly.

I remember learning to ride a bike. I fell down a lot in the beginning and crashed into a lot of bushes. I skinned my knees and my pride over and over again. But falling was actually a good thing, because it made me focus on balance more. I learned how to brake quicker so I didn’t crash into things. I learned when I needed to pedal harder so I could get up the hill. I learned when I could just coast.

You could say all that falling down and crashing taught me how NOT to ride a bike.

While working on the lightbulb, Edison said, “We now know a thousand ways not to build a lightbulb.”

Now, that’s more like it.

So let’s just remove that ‘failure’ word, okay? It’s counter productive and it’s not going to help you move forward with budgeting.

(Side note: It doesn’t help with dieting either.)

“I overspent in groceries, I failed at budgeting.”

If you overspend in a category, maybe instead of failing, you’ve just learned that next month you should budget a little more in that area.

Or maybe not. Maybe the overspend was for a very specific reason and you know that reason and you know it’s not likely to happen again. Cool.

“I haven’t updated my budget for 2 weeks. I failed at budgeting.”

So? Update it today. It’s not too late. Yeah, it may take a little bit of work to update it. You know what? If it’s really overwhelming, just do a fresh start.

It doesn’t matter that it’s been a day, a week, or two weeks. It only matters if you stop. As long as you keep going, you’ll learn and get better.

So perhaps you’ve just learned that two weeks is too long to be away from your budget.

“I didn’t save enough for that car repair. I was short $100 – I didn’t realize the car would need brakes and tires. I failed at budgeting.”

I’ve never been able to predict with 100% accuracy everything that will happen to me financially.

You won’t be able to either. Let it go. Adjust. Move on. It’s really okay.

Be glad you saved something toward car repairs, it could have been worse. Your accuracy will improve the longer you budget.

You’ve just learned to budget a little more toward car repairs in the future.

“Ugh, I’m going to have to lower my clothing category so I can have more money to cover that birthday present I bought. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so much on it.”

Or maybe getting that present was more important to you than buying more clothes. Celebrate the fact that you HAD money in your clothing category to move around. You were being proactive. You saw something go wrong and you adjusted. Hooray!

“To err is human, to forgive is divine.” ~ Alexander Pope

It’s okay. This is all part of the learning process.

Forgive yourself.

Move on.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…what do we do?

We swim!

~ Erin
Lead Teacher, YNAB