3 ways you're sabotaging your budget

3 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Budget

How many budgets did you have to try before you finally got it right?

You worked hard on making your budget. All the tears that went into planning your money for next month. It finally looks perfect and ready to be set in motion.

You go about your month spending according to your budget and maybe you fudged a little here and there, but overall everything seems to have worked well.

That’s until you sit down to reconcile the budget at the end of the month.

Something went wrong and you went way over the budget plan. Frustrated, you start entertaining the idea of just giving up altogether. I’m here to tell you…

stop sabotaging your budget

Source: Pexels.com

Don’t give up!

Your household budget is the key to financial freedom and future wealth. It’s the best way to get control of your money instead of your money getting control over you.

It took me almost 2 years and 3 different budget styles to find one that worked for me. The reason it took me so long to get my budget right was because I was making budget mistakes no one else was talking about (or maybe I just didn’t read the directions properly)

There were 3 big things causing me to sabotage my budget efforts. Keep reading to see if your making these same mistakes.

A budget gets control of your money before money gets control over you.

Aside from all the obvious reasons you may be sabotaging your budget:

  • Eating out too often
  • Giving in to your coffee or book habit
  • Impulse Amazon buys

I want to cover the “Not-So-Obvious” reasons.

Things that you may have been doing but don’t even realize it could impact your budget.

You're not tracking all money

Source: Petr Kratochvil

#1. You’re Not Tracking ALL Your Money

When I started doing a budget in 2014, I had this genius idea that I didn’t need to count the money going into my savings because I wasn’t planning on spending that money anyway.

For some reason, I thought if I didn’t track the money going into my sinking funds, then I wouldn’t be tempted to use that money.

Turns out, it was a dumb idea. Not tracking your savings leaves a hole in your budget the size of, well the money you’re not tracking. And, it’s just bad practice not to track your savings anyway.

If you’re doing this, please stop.

I like to think of money similar to water. To make the best use of water, you need to direct every bit of it to where you need it to go. Same with money…

'If you don't tell your money where to go, you'll be wondering where it went.' ~ Dave Ramsey/John Maxwell Click To Tweet

Leaving parts of your income out of the budget will throw off your calculations. And it makes things harder to keep track of. You’ll have to remember not to count the money every time you budget. And if you’re working with a highly-detailed budget, like a zero-dollar budget, be ready for total and utter chaos.

Hiding money from your budget doesn’t work because, if you’re like most people, you’ve allowed your current living expenses to be based on the level of your income. In other words, you’ve probably allowed expenses (aka: debt) into your life at the level of what your current income can handle.

When you leave money out from the budget but still have the same expenses, you almost always end up in the red.

Why?

Because you’ll still have the expense but not the right amount of money coming in. Your budget will show you’re overspending when you really aren’t…or are you?

For your budget to work properly, you must be honest and track every bit of income and expense, no matter where it’s coming from, or going to.

 

Too many bank accounts

Source: Petr Kratochvil

#2. You Have Too Many Bank Accounts

I’m not talking about money market accounts, certificates of deposits (CD’s), or investment accounts. I mean the simple, checking and savings accounts that people use for everyday savings and payments.

I know of a nice couple that has 12 bank accounts in 3 different banks. One for the kids, one for the spouse, one for plain savings, one for special savings, a checking for gas and food, a checking for online shopping. Their list goes on. And on.

I’m one of those people who thought maintaining multiple accounts was smart and organized. It seemed innocent enough to have 10 different accounts in 5 separate banks (not including the one I use for business).

Turns out, I was wrong…again.

If you’re doing this, you may want to reconsider:

Having multiple bank accounts may be sabotaging your budget because more accounts mean more tracking. More tracking leads to confusion and higher possibility of errors.

If you’re using a spreadsheet to track finances for numerous accounts, chances are you’re going to miss something. And if you use an online tool like Mint.com, it only adds to the confusion when you look at the list of transactions.

Mint doesn’t know the difference between your transactions, so if you often transfer money from one account to another, you’ll see duplicate transactions.

You end up having to spend the extra time sorting things out. And sometimes it’s like trying to herd cats.

If you’re going to track ALL your money, make it easy on yourself. Don’t try to wrangle multiple accounts every month.

For simplicity, all you really need is one checking, and perhaps 2-3 savings accounts depending on your personal needs.

Keep your bank accounts simple so you can easily track all your money.

Make it easier to run a successful budget by minimizing your accounts. The less you have to track, the easier it is to watch where your money is going.

Still using debt

Petr Kratochvil

#3. You’re Still Using Credit

You’re still using credit cards and revolving lines of credit.

Most people hang on to their credit cards for various reasons. For emergencies, for the rewards, or to keep up their credit report.

The honest truth is 1. you don’t need a credit score to survive. 2. The rewards you get for the amount of debt you need to put yourself in aren’t worth it. And 3. if you didn’t have so much debt, you could quickly save up an emergency fund (which reduces your need for credit).

If you’re using credit cards or revolving lines of credit to purchase things, you may want to reconsider:

People using a credit card are prone to spend 12-18% more money than they would than if they were paying with cash. Pay for your everyday expenses with a credit card and you may be putting your budget in the red without realizing it.

On top of that, using a credit card makes tracking money more complicated than it needs to be (hello, one more account to track)

To reduce your dependence on credit, you may have to cut expenses. Which, by the way, is a happy side effect of doing a budget; you can see where you’re overspending each month so you can stop it.

My Final Two Cents

If you’re having trouble getting your budget to work and your numbers just don’t come out right at the end of the month, take a step back to see if these things may be throwing a wrench in your budget.

They certainly did for me, and it took almost 2 years before I figured it out.

The best way to manage your budget is to make it as easy as possible for you to keep track of your income and expenses. And to make sure your expenses never exceed your income.

A quick recap of the things you may be doing to sabotage your budget:

  • You open the doors for errors if you’re not tracking all of your money.
  • Having to track too many bank accounts can be frustrating – like herding cats.
  • Using a credit card complicates things and opens the door for you to spend more than you make – without you realizing it.

Your Turn

These are my 3 biggest budgeting mistakes.

Have you made any of your own?

Share in the comments! 🙂

 

Disease Called Debt

 

DISCLAIMER: None of the links in this article are affiliate links. I am not a certified financial advisor. All the ideas expressed in this article are to be taken as entertainment only. Any and all decisions to follow the steps in this article will be done so at your own risk. It is recommended that you do your own personal research and consult with a certified financial advisor first (or read the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey). Despite this disclaimer, please know that I’m self-educated in, and have experience with, personal money management. I have thus far paid down approximately $9000 of debt (2015-2016), and the ideas mentioned in this article are experiences from my personal life which I feel could help other people – like you – looking to change their money situation.

 

Christine

Hey there! In 2018, I paid off about $65,000 of debt after finally getting serious about it. That led me to becoming a freelance writer. Here on my blog I like to write about managing money and solo-business topics. Hire me to write informative content for your blog on topics of personal finance and small business. let's work together!

  • RAnn says:

    The best budgeting tip I can offer is to adopt a standard of living–basically meaning house and car–that is lower than what you can afford and then direct a percentage of your paycheck to savings before you ever get it. Also, if you can’t afford to pay cash for it, you can’t afford to buy it. Follow those rules and you don’t have to track pennies or have tons of bank accounts.

    • Christine says:

      Hi RAnn,

      Love that concept: “if you can’t afford to pay cash for it, you can’t afford to buy it” and to basically live below your means. I think these are the Golden Rules of personal finance.

      You make good points! Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a good weekend!

  • Great thoughts on how to make your budget work for you. I’ve been tracking every cent for over 10 years now and it definitely helps keep me on track with my budget. I have to agree that too many accounts can make it difficult to manage. For awhile my wife and I had 3 checking accounts and 3 saving accounts, primarily to get some cash reward bonuses. It was still worth it, but more than once we made errors that cost us money in fees. You need to stay super organized and that’s one reason our only savings account now is with Capital One 360 because you can “divide” up your account into sub-accounts and label them for different purposes.

    • Christine says:

      Hey Gary,

      Thanks, so glad you could relate to these points. 🙂 I love Capital One 360. I use it for all my savings for the same reason.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I really like your blog!

  • I totally agree on the too many bank accounts thing – I opened several to hack some credit card rewards and it’s definitely a project tracking them. I’m looking forward to hitting the six month point and recondensing my money.

    • Christine says:

      Hi Mel!

      Yea, I’m relieved that people agree on the “too many bank accounts.” I just couldn’t handle the amount of time it took to double check my work.

      I’d love to hear your recondensing plan, and how it goes. Good Luck. 🙂

      Thanks so much for commenting! Hope you have an awesome weekend!

  • Oh, a budget! That darn thing! 🙂 I always seem to go over in one way or another. My biggest downfall is eating out and other random miscellaneous expenses. It’s always a work in progress.

    • Christine says:

      Hi K!

      So very true, that darn budget! No two month’s budget is ever the same. Mine is always a work in progress too.

      I hope these tips could help in some way. The thing that helped with my miscellaneous spending was the cash-only envelope system (an article I’m working on). It gives you a tangible budget; once the money in the envelope is gone, no more spending (er, at least that’s the idea…sometimes I pull from other envelopes, lol).

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I hope you have an awesome weekend.

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