I Stopped Following a Budget for a Few Months. Here's What Happened

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on June 12, 2021

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Three young children playing in a colorful room filled with toys and a canvas tent.

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I've always stuck to a budget -- except the one time I didn't. And it was disastrous.

Having a baby is a rewarding but challenging situation to adjust to. Having multiple babies at once, however, is even tougher.

Such was my situation a little over six years ago when my family was blessed with twin girls. But in the haze of sleepless nights and my attempt to care for a pair of newborns while also tending to a toddler, a dog, and my job, I was overextended and overwhelmed for a solid number of months. And so at that time, certain things just had to fall by the wayside, like showering on a daily basis (sorry for the TMI bomb), staying in touch with friends, and managing my personal finances.

I've always been a solid saver and I've always made a point to stick to a budget. But when those little babies arrived, suddenly, my budget went out the window. I just didn't have the time or mental energy to keep track of what our grocery bills looked like or how much we'd spent on clothing from one month to the next. But in the end, straying from our household budget for even a short period of time set us back financially.

Getting caught in a trap

Not only did my family stop budgeting briefly when our twins were born, but we did so at a time when we suddenly found ourselves faced with new expenses, like twice the amount of diapers, double the copays for medical appointments, and other such costs that arise when you have two babies at the same time.

We also had to buy a fair amount of baby gear because while we were able to pass down some items from our son, we needed two of many things. And, because we'd needed to get a minivan to fit our kids and their carseats, we suddenly had a large vehicle payment on our hands.

All told, there was a solid three-to-four-month period when I didn't really pay attention to what our bills looked like. And so during those months, we went overboard on spending in a number of expense categories and had to dip into our savings account to compensate. The fact that I also went from working full-time as a writer to barely managing a few articles a week didn't help either.

But after not budgeting for a number of months in a row and moving money out of our savings, my husband and I got down to business. We took a look at our recent bills, redid our budget, and started paying closer attention to what we were spending. We wound up canceling one of my son's activities, for example, because not only was it a hassle to drive him there with twins in tow, but it was also a lot of money for 45 minutes of entertainment a week.

Once my daughters got a little older, things got easier, financially speaking. I was able to work a lot more once they didn't need to eat every two hours and actually started sleeping a decent stretch through the night. But even as my income increased, after ignoring our budget for many months, we didn't make that mistake again. And in time, we were able to replenish our savings and even add to them.

Nowadays, we make a point to review our finances every few months. And I've also begun to share my household budget with my son. Doing so helps keep my spending in line so I don't make the same mistake I made during a very hectic period of my life.

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