The Next Best Thing

When we’re dealing with mindful stewardship of our budgets and how they fit into our lives, we frequently come to twists in the road. Sometimes there are potholes or speedbumps, and sometimes the nicely paved road you were on turns into a dirt road and you have to drive through a creek to get back to civilization. Here’s the thing, even the best plans are going to have hiccups, but I think we can mitigate the risk for all-out failure by choosing to do the Next Best Thing in all of those situations.

What is The Next Best Thing?

Over the past almost-nine years of our marriage, we have not always had the perfect circumstances for saving. Shocker, I know 😉 There have been all the normal reasons to fall off of a budget: new baby, unexpected expenses, broken down vehicles, job changes, moving, house repairs, Christmas giving, travel or vacation, etc.

But in all of these circumstances–when we find ourselves forced to deal with less-than-ideal caveats to our spending plans, we’ve mitigated a lot of damage by asking ourselves what the next best thing is.

“Sure, this particular situation isn’t ideal. But it exists, it’s happening, and now we react. Since our first plan didn’t work out, what can we do to make this the next best thing?”

Sometimes the next best thing is just stepping forward into the next month and getting back on budget after the waters have settled and and the unexpected expenses are covered. Other times, choosing the next best thing might mean seriously re-evaluating your plans and goals for the future.

Retain the Mindset

Whatever the situation, the main point is this: by asking yourself, “What is the Next Best Thing to do right now?” you can continue moving forward towards your goals and avoid being derailed by the guilt-trip or aggravation of ‘failing’ in your first plan. Plan A didn’t work out. So Edison it and move along to Plan B.

Just like we don’t abandon all attempts to eat healthfully just because we ate donuts that one Saturday, we don’t give up on our savings goals because we got a flat tire, or hit a deer with our van (true story!). We deal with it, recover, and do our best to choose the Next Best Thing.

Real Life Next Best Thing

We literally hit a deer last month and wrecked our van. Let me tell you, that was NOT in the plans! Thankfully, we have the emergency fund to deal with situations like this, but we still had choices to make. For a while, we thought we were going to have to buy an entirely new vehicle, which was looking extremely pricey. But we know that next summer we have to replace the roof, AND we’ve planned a trip to Ireland. It is just not a good time to go all out and take on another big expense. So, we looked into fixing the van. Turns out, when you’re not a mechanic, you’re not actually that good at guessing how ‘totaled’ a vehicle is.

For us, in this situation, the next best thing is just fixing the van. It’s still money we weren’t planning on spending, for a problem we wish we didn’t have–but we picked the best option, considering the other expenses we know we have coming up.

So, whether the holidays make it tough to save money, or you have extra expenses popping up–don’t give up in despair, or decide that budgeting just doesn’t work for you. Pick the Next Best Thing, get yourself back on track, and keep right on keeping on towards those goals!