Can't figure out why you never manage to stick to your budget, no matter how many times you resolve to do better? It could be due to one of these 7 common budgeting mistakes.
1. It's Impossible
There's a difference between being disciplined and aiming for goals so extreme you'll never meet them. Your budget needs to make sense for your life. While you want to keep your spending in check, make sure your numbers are reasonable and realistic.
Most people can't live on four dollars per day for groceries, and that's OK.
2. You Hate Budgeting
If budgeting is a difficult chore for you, it's no wonder you have trouble sticking with it. Budgeting software like Mint.com can help you track your expenses and sort them into categories automatically. You simply set it up once and then check on it occasionally. The easier you make budgeting, the less likely you'll be to keep putting it off.
3. There's No Room for Surprise
If there's no wiggle room in your budget, you're bound to exceed it, because life has a way of throwing unexpected expenses at you. Add a line to your budget for "emergency savings" and put aside a little each month for these surprises. The next time your car breaks down or your dog gets sick, you'll be able to handle it.
4. You've Forgotten Something
It's easy to remember regular monthly bills like utilities and groceries, but don't forget irregular bills like your quarterly water bill or yearly magazine subscriptions.
Set aside a little each month for these expenses so you're ready to pay them when they're due.
5. You're Paying More Than You Need To
Are you paying for a 500-channel cable package when all you really need is a Netflix or Hulu subscription? Are you paying for a gym membership you never use, and know you're never going to use?
The more you can trim your current expenses, the more flexibility you'll have to roll with the punches each month.
6. It Sucks All The Fun Out of Life
If you're on a super strict diet, it's only a matter of time before you'll get so sick of feeling deprived that you binge on a super-sized cheeseburger and fries. The same principle holds true for budgeting; if your budget leaves no room for a little "fun money," there's a good chance you'll break down and splurge on something just because you hate how restrictive it is.
Allowing yourself small splurges each month will help you stay disciplined about the rest of your budget. This could mean getting a fancy latte once a week or giving yourself an allowance of $50 a month to spend on whatever you like.
7. You've Got Some Issues to Deal With
If you have some underlying bad habits, like impulse purchasing or using shopping as retail therapy, you need to get those things in check before you'll ever be able to stick to a budget. There are plenty of resources online to help you kick these bad habits; you owe it yourself to check them out.