March 3, 2017

Tip Content Provided By: Financial Finesse

Why is my budget failing? My friend asked me this question a few days ago. She has been trying to budget for the last few years and just can’t seem to stay on track. I told her that I have found that there are some common reasons why budgets fail and if she addressed the following common reasons why budgets fail, she can become a successful budgeter:

Budget categories bursting at the seams. Years ago, I worked with a woman who was diligent about creating and tracking a budget but struggled to handle emergencies. When I looked at her expenses, I saw that over 50% of her spending was her mortgage and 30% was a car payment. There was no wiggle room to handle emergencies. Luckily, she was able to get a roommate and downsize her car. Consider reviewing articles like this one as a starting point as to how much to spend in each budget category.

Not sticking to your budget. A budget only works if you actually follow it. I always tell people that there are two parts to a budget. One is forecasting what your spending needs are for the month and the other is tracking. If you are not doing both then it will be hard to stick your budget.

Using the wrong budgeting system. Using the wrong budgeting can make budgeting feel like a dreaded chore. If you hate technology, use a budgeting worksheet and either a notebook to write down expenses or keep receipts in an envelope. If you are comfortable with spreadsheets then use Excel, which can do the math for you. If you want more features then explore the various online budgeting software programs and find out which best matches how you want to budget.

Unrealistic Budgets. My friend had a family of seven that wanted to budget $350 a month for food.  Considering she had five very tall teenage boys to feed, we decided that her budget was not realistic. If you find that you are constantly going over certain budget categories, consider increasing your budget and maybe using cash for purchases in that category. Also be honest with yourself. If a Mocha latte or a manicure keeps calling your name, just put the expense in your budget.

Not changing the budget with life changes. It’s rare that your spending is the same every month. As gas prices, food prices and your utility bills change, so will your budget. Be flexible and adjust your budget to accommodate changes in your expenses.

Now, these aren’t all of the reasons why budgets fail. But if you are struggling with your budget, the list above gives you a good starting point. With a few tweaks, most people can become budgeting gurus in no time!

This article was derived from the Financial Finesse Blog. Have a financial question? Send it to Ask Financial Finesse.

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