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Creating and sticking to a monthly budget is hard. If it were easy, everyone would be successfully saving money and paying down their debt.
Yet, let’s back up for a minute: Before you pick a budgeting method, it’s important that you understand what not to do. Why? By avoiding common budgeting mishaps, you’ll be more likely to reach your financial goals.
Ready to create a monthly budget? Read on to learn about 5 budgeting habits you should avoid.
Let’s be real: It’s easy to overspend. Perhaps you just had to buy those shoes, even though they still cost more than your personal budget allows for. Or, you couldn’t turn down the invite to join your friends for dinner and drinks, even though you’ve already blown through your entertainment money for the month. And, this one is all too common: You simply racked up more charges on your credit card than you can afford to pay off that month.
So, how can you avoid overspending? Buckle down and stick to your budget. Plain and simple. Don’t spend more than you can afford in any given month. Learn to say no to those shoes and perhaps invite your friends over to your house for a potluck instead of charging an expensive dinner on your credit card – again.
Work on developing better spending habits. Your wallet – and your monthly budget – will thank you.
2. Using your credit card way too much
Along the same lines as overspending in general, racking up too many credit card charges is simply not a good habit to get into. For starters, you can easily go into debt or worse yet, find yourself in a vicious cycle where you can’t get your spending under control (see #1 above).
Experts say that those who rely on credit cards spend more than those who use cash or debit cards for their purchases. So, instead of celebrating your credit card rewards, try only using cash for your entertainment and shopping.
To help you out, give the envelope budgeting method a test drive. With this budgeting system, you’ll assign an envelope to each of your budgeting categories and then put a designated amount of cash into each of these envelopes.
You can even modify this plan and only use the envelopes for cash for your groceries, fun money and other shopping needs (the categories you may use your credit card for most often.)
When the envelopes are empty and the cash is gone, no more spending for you. Not even on your credit card. With this method, that’s not allowed.
3. Not discussing your monthly budget
Money is often a taboo topic. We get it. Who likes to discuss their money sitch with relatives, friends or even your significant other?
But we’re here to tell you that you’ve got to have the money talk, especially if you are trying to budget with a partner or for your family. Budgeting is challenging and you’d be surprised by how much others are willing to help you or support you with your financial goals.
So, if you’re married or in a relationship, set aside money “date nights” to discuss your household budget together.
You can make this fun – and affordable – by grabbing a cheap bottle of wine and cooking dinner at home. Use this time to discuss your spending goals for the month and even long-term savings goals that you’d like to work on together or independently.
4. Not being a bargain hunter
Here’s the deal: If you’re on a monthly budget and trying to save money, buying things on sale or using coupons will help you pocket more cash. Period.
So, look out for coupons and store sales. Also, be sure to comparison shop to make sure you’re getting the lowest prices. And we know that not everyone likes bargain shopping, so here’s a pro tip: Use the Ebates money saving app.
Ebates is a browser extension that essentially pays you to shop. To get started, go to the Ebates site and pick a store to shop at. Then, simply click the red ‘Shop Now’ button to go directly to that store’s website. Ebates will track your purchases and deposit cash back into your Ebates account within a few days.
While using Ebates and other coupons still means that you’ll be spending money, bargain shopping will help you develop healthy spending habits and buy the things you need, without going over your monthly budget. We could even compare this app to the likes of a cash back credit card.
5. Not rewarding yourself
As we’ve already stated, budgeting is hard. With this said, if you can stick to your household budget, congratulations! You’re on your way to saving more money and achieving your financial goals. We think this is cause for celebration. Do you agree?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, this doesn’t mean blowing all your savings on a big celebratory dinner for you and 100 besties.
But it does mean that you should include a category for fun or splurge money in your monthly budget. This way you can take some cash and spend it on whatever you want, like a movie night for you and your spouse or a bouquet of flowers to brighten up your house.
Putting every penny of your income towards paying bills and filling your savings account can make personal finance more stressful. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Even setting aside as little as $25 a week as a treat to yourself can improve your mood. It could even give you that extra motivation that you need to start bringing in more money on the side
Budgeting isn’t about depriving yourself of life’s pleasures, it’s about being able to manage your spending and not getting into unmanageable debt.
Remember: if you’re struggling to create a budget, or you need a little extra help, use a budget calculator. You’ll find this an incredibly useful tool to use not only for budgeting but also for preventing debt that may lead to you needing a personal loan.
Take into account each of these bad monthly budgeting habits, avoid them, and your financial situation will be on track for success.