Why It’s So Hard to Stay Under Budget

While it’s often easy for busy parents to come up with a budget to ensure the family doesn’t overspend each month, staying under said budget is always much harder.

From new clothes, sports equipment, and toys; to home and auto repairs; to nights out with and without the kids, It seems like no matter how hard we try to ensure we don’t overspend, it’s easy to look at the bank statements and realize we spent way more than the amount we allotted for the month.

Below is a list of reasons that might explain why you are having so much trouble staying under budget.

Hidden Costs

Hidden costs are costs that you don’t factor in your budget. Most of the time, if you find yourself going over budget, a significant amount of your spending can be attributed to hidden costs.

Things like buying a coffee in the morning on the way to work even though you have a perfectly functional coffee-maker at home; or going out for a meal despite the fact the fridge is stocked with food; or buying an item that you don’t need simply because it’s on sale.

The common logic behind these purchases is: “it’s only x dollars.” However, those small costs add up, especially when you’re paying for things when you’re out that you already have at home—this essentially leads to paying for things twice, which can easily cause a family to go over budget.

Unexpected Expenses

While it’s much more difficult to plan for an unexpected expense, it can often be a contributor for going over budget. Things like an increase in food or gas prices, or a sudden increase in monthly payments such as auto or home insurance, or even the need to replace an item that’s broken all fall under unexpected expenses.

The problem with unexpected expenses is you can’t exactly plan for them. It’s not like you’re going to stock up on gas when you go to the station and realize it’s much lower than normal. Neither are you going to start hoarding car parts just on the off chance yours breaks down.

However, setting aside an extra chunk of money to a separate savings account can help ensure that when unexpected expenses do come up, you’ll have some money set aside to pay for them

Unrealistic Budgeting

Probably the most common reason for going over budget for families begins with the budget itself. While it’s certainly a noble attempt to put together a tighter budget in order to save money for the future, it’s often not realistic.

If you’re planning on cooking every meal, but you know your kids have tons of extracurriculars and are going to be out most evenings, it’s probably likely you’ll be too tired to cook when you get home, and you’ll want to pick up something while you’re out.

Part of creating a budget you’ll be able to stick to is knowing yourself—how you operate, and how you make decisions. If you create a budget in an effort to change your behavior, most likely you’ll just end up going over budget.

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