When Life Gets Messy, So Does My Budget

I sat down today to finish out the month’s financial paperwork, both for my husband’s business and our household.

Once again, one thing is clear –

When my life gets out of control, my spending soon follows. There is a direct, proportional, undeniable link between the two (unfortunately!).

We have had a stressful month… and we are about to have another one, mostly because we will have to financially make up for last month’s spending.

As my son’s meltdowns escalated over the course of this past month, so too did my spending. There were two budget categories that were hit the hardest, and were not equipped (at all) to handle the barrage of thoughtless and reactive expenses.

We ate out (or ordered in might be a better way to describe it) seven times more than we had the month prior. Even at $20.00 a pop, which was the smallest amount ordered (the most being $54.24 when my husband and I both ordered whatever we wanted along with the dang Chinese noodles that my son just had to have), and that is an extra $140.00 (more like $284.00 – don’t judge) that we were not planning to spend.

More than that, we have a set, education budget category for the boys. These are fixation related purchases like gardening supplies, random spices, reptiles and their care, etc. We blew this budget line too, mostly in the realm of whatever it takes to help my boys calm down and not destroy anything – just buy him the new headphones, or crested gecko, or Minecraft book and let’s move on.

Seriously. Not good.

I am a little bit disappointed, a little bit annoyed, a little bit defeated, and a little bit overwhelmed.

We cannot afford this, not even on our best month. If you have read my post on how much our insurance company does not cover, you know that we need to be very careful with our funds, just to pay for the care and treatment my sons need. It freaks me out that we might be putting that in jeopardy, just because I really felt entitled to some overpriced, won ton soup at the end of a ridiculously hard day.

And it freaks me out that the meltdowns still seem to be looming…we might be in for another month of crazy.

We need to NOT repeat the same budget busting, throw caution to the wind, because “our life is so haaaaaard“, spending.

As much as I wish Ed McMahon would come a knocking, please understand – I almost didn’t want to share this because I know that we are very, very fortunate to be in our financial position.

There are so many families that make a lot less money, and have to deal with a lot more. I am grateful I have the luxury of sitting here typing a blog post for readers that I adore, instead of working outside the home just to make ends meet.

I know we will get back on track. We always do.

By God’s grace, we have learned that He would not give us these children, and not give us some how, some way to provide for them. We will tighten our belts, and be much more careful with the random and reactionary spending. Our budget for the new month reflects this a careful plan.

So why am I writing this?

Because it’s just another part of my life.  A very real part of my life.

And because planning for the things our children need is just part of parenthood – diagnosis or not.

I know a momma whose daughter is on the spectrum, and loves to make dolls out of socks. They have an actual line in their budget just for socks – because they would go broke if they did not account for and plan for the amount of socks they go through on a monthly basis.

Another family I know is painstakingly saving up to replace the trampoline they realize will soon be beyond repair. They use it for sensory exercises, and a form of at-home OT for their little guy. It is invaluable to them, and it will soon need to be replaced.

I love both of these examples. They imply an acceptance, a love and a planfulness that is encouraging to me.

When a child has unique needs, it requires a unique approach to the budget and really, to every part of our lives.

So, I pray today for provision and for grace (when we blow it).

I pray today for wisdom, and the strength to be good stewards in the face of chaos. I pray for the diligence to make the best decision, rather than the easiest one in the moment.

I pray we make it to the end of the month, without being bitter, or resentful, or giving up.

We have more than we need to live. We even have many of our wants.

We have more than enough.

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  1. Looking over past budgets sure does show when the difficult patches happened. For me it wasn’t about my children but about my allergies and associated headaches. I never realised that my Mama MIA (Mama missing in action) periods were related to certain times of year until I tracked our fast food spending on the credit card over 2 years then did it for a third year just to see if there really was a pattern. We coped financially during those times. Like you it always seemed to be ok by the Grace of G-d. But it did give me some insight into my bad patches and meant I was able to talk to my doctor about it and start down a treatment path.

    I share this only because I wondered if you have ever compared year to year to see if there is a seasonal pattern to your children’s issues. Maybe there is due to common life events like Thanksgiving or Christmas or maybe due to weather factors like temperatures or plant matters like allergies.

    I know that your life is very busy right now and this may not be something you can take the time to do. I just thought it might help.

    Best wishes
    Jen in Oz

    1. Great suggestion, Jen! As soon as I have a moment, I am going to take a look. Thank you so much.

  2. Shawna and Jen, spot on with your spending goes up with the meltdowns and stress. I’m not glad you do the same thing, but I so appreciate your willingness to post this. It really helps me to know I’m not the only one who does this. Worn out and down to my last rope from meltdowns and they want to EAT TOO? I’m still reeling from the screaming that’s gone on for the last 45 minutes. Then he seems to be able to cut it off and suddenly everything’s ok and he’s hungry!!
    Jen, I’ve noticed a reacurring pattern of bad meltdowns starting the first of October through the end of December.
    Praying for you,

    1. Jen in Oz says:

      Marsha, that is great that you have noticed a pattern. Is there anything you can do to manage it?

      For me it was more like adjusting my attitude like when I have my cycle and even though I feel liking snapping at my kids I just have to remember to ride it out and be nice. It doesn’t stop the feelings but I have learned to accept that those times could be bad and just be careful and accept that it is something out of my control in some ways.

      With my allergies it hasn’t been ‘fixed’ yet but I am kinder to myself when my symptoms get bad. I think my attitude made me disappear more. I hated the guilt of thinking I am letting my kids down so I would hide from my responsibilities. Now I don’t get down on myself after a day of school missed due to a bad allergy day. I pick myself up and try again.

      Good luck on having a plan even if only your attitude. ☺

      Best wishes
      Jen in Oz

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