Falling off the Wagon: 5 Steps to Get Back on Track

Falling off the wagon: 5 step strategy to help you get back on track and take action so you can achieve your financial goals.

Have you ever started something that you didn’t finish?  Or perhaps you’ve screwed up a step or two in a program, and ended up quitting or deciding to save it for later?  Maybe you’re used to falling off the wagon or getting off track a time sometimes in life, and you choose to just take another mode of transportation, and skip getting back on altogether.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Your nephew is having a birthday party and you and said nephew happen to have the same great taste in cupcakes that your sister has deliciously prepared. However, you’ve promised yourself no sweets for two weeks to start your new, healthy lifestyle and diet strong.

You resist for the first 30 minutes, until someone offers it to you one last time – and you cave as your taste buds salivate, and the chocolate goodness hits your lips.

I hear you, and I counter your wagon falling dilemma.

It happens to all of us, but if you fall off the wagon, you have a choice to get back on.

We’re all going to fall off the wagon, and we can choose to get back on or not. I want to share with you the strategy that I use to get back on track. It’s a skill that you too can practice to keep moving forward.

Yes, I know you have big goals-me too!  This strategy will help you STICK TO YOUR GOALS and get back on track, even when you are pushed out of the wagon, walk off intentionally, or when the wake of nearby boats knock you right off of your paddleboard….this is a fresh memory for me!

5 Step Wagon Strategy:

  1. Own it.
  2. Give grace.
  3. Get back on the wagon.
  4. Debrief.
  5. Revise

I just dubbed it the wagon strategy…let’s see if that sticks.

Since we talk about money management over here often, I will be using a recent client wagon falling off experience to bring this home for you.

Client Background.

This couple that I’m working with (we’ll call them Paul and Erin) aren’t totally new to budgeting. They are upping their level of intentionality to get to an ultimate goal of buying a home for their growing family, and first want to tackle a few debts.

Their month on a new budget resulted in meeting their targets with spending, and even the extra funds that were planned put toward their goal of debt reduction.  This is not easy to do, but they did it! Ready for the wagon falling?  They made some extra money that was unplanned, and it went towards a computer upgrade, biking trip, and some ‘random’ stuff like car wash, etc. instead of toward their debt goal.

My “Wagon Plan” in action.

  1. Own it.

So, you weren’t as intentional as you hoped to be. It happened.  Where did you fall off the wagon?  Car wash, bike trip, and upgrade.  Got it.  Let’s go deeper.

  1. Give grace.

Hold up a minute.  You did meet your overall goals for the month, yes?  Yes.  So – calling the month ‘mostly terrible’ is probably not accurate, am I right?  Yes.  Grace for self found!

  1. Get back on the wagon.

Did you give up on the month altogether?  Did you get back on the wagon choosing to be intentional moving forward?  Yes?  Good-keep going! Next.

  1. Debrief.

Okay – where did things go sideways?  

Carwash: Where DO car washes fit into the budget?  Well, that depends.  You could roll it into your auto maintenance, or your pocket money.  If you do it regularly throughout the year it should be a line item in your budget.  

Bike Trip: Normally, this is a pretty inexpensive trip but you had to rent a bike this time.  Understood.  Did you know that in advance?  Could you have better planned for it this month?  Maybe given yourself some extra pocket cash to cover it this time?  

Computer Upgrade: Your free spirit saw that extra money, knew that an upgrade was on the horizon and made the splurge.  Okay. When you know you’re going to need a replacement, let’s just plan for it.  That will take the guilt out of what feels like ‘out of control’ spending that’s not aligned with your plan.

  1. Revise if needed.

Does your budget need to be updated to reflect what happened?

Carwash: Using auto maintenance moving forward.  Easy enough.

Bike Trip: Shouldn’t need any adjustment moving forward, one off.

Computer Upgrade: Survey the current equipment and see if anything needs to be replaced in the next year – then let’s build it into the plan.

Most important component of the discussion for Paul and Erin comes next. 

Decide in advance how you want to use extra money in any given month.  

Do you want 100% of that extra money to go to your debt goal?  My hunch is no.  Should it be 75% to goal and 25% to ‘random’ or 50/50?  This is an answer only this couple can decide.  But when they do, they’ll release themselves from any guilt from not being on plan – and instead of feeling like they fell off the wagon, that will be all part of their wagon journey!

I use this larger step that I call ‘Flex’ as part of my framework when working with clients on their money management.  Countless times, they have started to beat themselves up over not having a perfect month – until I stop them in their tracks. I even have a free 5 step plan that will help you with your financial goals, so you actually can thrive with your finances.

This IS the process.  You ARE going to mess up from time to time.  #normal

If you fall off the wagon, you have to be flexible, and willing to get back on track.

Teaching you to be flexible when you do, and get back up again is the key.  If you just up and quit when the going gets tough….you wouldn’t be getting very far.  But instead, if you learned a little, adjusted and got back up – you’d be much further toward your goals.

If you’re tired of falling off the wagon, it’s time to get back on. Or in it.  Whatever.  Keep moving forward.  Don’t you dare give up on yourself now!

Thank you for joining me on my my journey to influence.

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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14 thoughts on “Falling off the Wagon: 5 Steps to Get Back on Track”

  1. Christina Safford

    I love your rendition of “give grace” – that it’s putting it into perspective, not just saying “it’s ok” .. thank you for that!!

  2. Revising our monthly budget has helped us adjust the remaining activities for the month. We try to update the monthly budget once a week and see if there are areas we can shift money from. Life happens, and these are great tips.

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