You finally committed to making a household budget, listing your monthly expenses and revenue streams. However, at the end of each month you find that you've overspent on going to the movies, eating out or buying clothes.
It is enough to make you feel like a budgeting failure.
Here's the good news: You can fix your budget. You simply have to identify the most common reasons why budgets fail, find these common mistakes in your household budget and then correct them.
Here, then, are the most common mistakes people make when crafting a budget:
1. They are unrealistic: When we sit down to make a budget, we too often do so with unrealistic hopes. We plan to spend just $50 a month on eating out, or we promise that we'll only spend $400 a month at the grocery store. Then when the end of the month comes we discover that we spent $100 on pizza alone. At the grocery store, we ended up spending $700. The best way to avoid this mistake? Be realistic about your spending habits. If you like nothing more than catching a first-run movie on the weekend, don't pretend that you'll go through the entire month spending just $25 at the theater.
2. They do not plan for emergencies: Things go wrong, every month. Maybe your washing machine goes on the fritz. Maybe your dishwasher springs a leak. Maybe your dog needs an emergency visit to the vet. These emergencies require money, usually enough to break your monthly budget if you do not plan for them. Put aside a set amount of money each month for emergencies. If you do not need to spend that money? Great. However, you can bet that the following month, something will come up.
3. They forget birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine's Day: Special occasions are not as infrequent as we sometimes think. Each month, it seems, features at least one birthday, holiday or anniversary. Buying presents and cards can eat into your monthly budget. Make sure to include a line item in your budget for these special events.
4. They give up too soon: Failure is not fun. When you reach the end of another month only to find that you've overspent again, it is too easy to give up on the budgeting process together. Don't do this. Try again next month. Think of it this way: Yes, you overspent last month. However, if you did not have a budget in place, how much more would you have spent?
5. They reward themselves: It is easy to want to splurge if you receive an extra-large commission check or an unexpected bonus. However, be careful. It is easy to spend all that money on entertainment, gifts or high-end electronics. Once you've gone down that path, it is just as easy to continue with the habit of overspending. After all, you purchased that iPad with your bonus money. It sure would be nice to have that keyboard attachment to go with it. That purchase, though, won't be funded by a bonus. That purchase could very well scuttle your monthly budget.