Pursuing FI: What If I Make a Mistake?

I botched it this month. We actually did pretty well in April, ending the month with a $180+ surplus beyond what we’d accounted for (woohoo!). As a result, we went into May feeing pretty good about ourselves and excited to see if we could repeat our feat of unexpected frugality.

But then life happened.

I rearranged many of our normal bills to go through our new Alaska Airlines credit card to start racking up miles. A good idea in theory, right up until I forgot to turn off one of the existing bill-pay withdrawals through our bank and got double-billed. You’re welcome, Verizon…

We’ve cut down on the Costco trips lately because of our tendency to spend shocking amounts of money every time we set foot inside. However, this month we decided to check out one of the Costco meal plans from www.5dollarmealplan.com (which we LOVE). What should have only cost $184 for 20 days worth of dinners ended up costing $302 because of all the extra stuff we decided we needed while we were there.

Things have also been extremely hectic around Casa de Cash Dummy for the last eight weeks or so as I’ve been working on finishing a college class. Our two very small children have been destroying the house more than usual lately. We’ve also been painting two of the upstairs bedrooms. All of this happening at once means less and less time to cook, which has turned into almost $300 in restaurant bills in May alone.

Ouch.

Before I put my frugality card into the shredder, though, I need to take a step back and think about a few things:

1) Did I do my best to control my spending? No. Is this the end of the world? Also no. Just because we have a bad month doesn’t mean we’re screwed, so long as I learn from my mistakes and hold myself accountable.

2) Did this overspending impact my plans? No, because I decided early on that my priorities were eliminating the last of my credit card debt and contributing to my retirement fund, and I AUTOMATED THEM. Those priorities get funded right off the top through automatic transfers I have set up.

3) Did this overspending bleed over onto my credit card? No, because even though we got lazy with our spending habits we still refused to purchase a single molecule of anything that we couldn’t pay for in cash. Unless it’s something directly related to keeping you or your loved ones alive, anything else can wait.

May might have upped my wallet’s “pucker factor”, but I can already tell you that June is going to be a whole different animal. I know exactly what we did wrong and how to fix it. At the end of the day, that’s what’s important.

Never let small mistakes and imperfections stop you from chasing your goals. They can’t, so long as you keep your eyes open and learn from each of them.

How about you? Have any of you run into rough patches in your FI quest? Or did you press on with flawless mechanical efficiency? Let me know below!

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Accountability: Mea Culpa