Do you make budgets but constantly find yourself blowing it every week? If you do then you’re not alone.

It’s especially hard when you’ve been trying to follow it to the letter, depriving yourself of the things you love, only to have it blow up in your face.

But don’t despair, you’re not a failure, or incapable of following a budget.

In fact, there are quite a few reasons your budget isn’t working and we’re going through 10 of them now.

1. You were too aggressive i.e. unrealistic

When planning a budget it’s easy to get a little … aggressive … with your expenses. We tend to pair down to the last cent, overestimate how much we can save, and underestimate how much we need to spend. It’s easy to cut out entertainment and gifts, but it’s just as easy to blow the budget in areas like food and groceries.

You gotta eat, right?

How to fix it: The best way to resolve this issue is to work with numbers based on your current usage and tackle one area of your budget at a time.

So instead of deciding to cut out everything and only pack PB and J sandwiches for the next 6 months, try and make it a gradual change. Maybe cut down to eating out for lunch 3 days a week instead of 5 days a week. Or lower your lunch expense by 25% every day. Or even adding one no-spend day a week.

2. You budgeted for the fake you, not the real you

When you decide to master your money, motivation can be great. You feel invincible, you decide to walk to work instead of drive. Bring a packed lunch every week and forgo hanging out with friends.

Only one problem.

You hate eating leftovers, hate walking to anywhere father than your fridge, and hanging out with friends is the only thing you enjoy doing for fun.

Now your strict budget has made you miserable and you can’t resist the urge to binge/splurge a little since you’ve done so well the last few days. Blowing your budget and all that hard work

Why this happens: We’ve been conditioned to believe that if a budget includes ANY luxuries (or what other people consider luxuries) then we aren’t serious about our money, are materialistic and, are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Budgets aren’t meant to force you to spend in pre-defined areas, it’s meant to help you allocate funds and focus on the things that do matter to you.

If you don’t make concessions for this that bring you joy or are for your self-care, then you’ll eat ‘cheat’ and do them – busting your budget or feel so constrained by the budget that you give it up.

How to fix it: Remember to always budget for the real you, not who you want to be. If you love fresh flowers and they give you joy and keep you sane, then don’t cut it entirely from your budget. Cut another area so you can keep what you love, or find a way to reduce the cost but still have your happy place.

3. You’re a giver

You’re great at watching your pennies and resisting temptation when buying for yourself, but you can’t help yourself when it comes to family, friends, or your kids.

You truly get joy from giving to others, and while giving is an expression of your love, it wreaks havoc on your budget. Even though you tell yourself you are on a budget, you feel immense guilt about declining a family gathering or present that you know they’d love.

why this happens? – Most people are generous and like to treat their friends and family. So when they find a gift they like, they throw the budget out the window and buy.

How to fix it? – If you know you like to give gifts, then put it in the budget… And stick to it.

4. Your life changed

You used to get a tax return but this time you owe a tax bill. You find out you’re pregnant. Your mother in law moves in or you didn’t expect your basement to flood.

I get it. Every budget is laid out with the expectation that things will relatively stay the same. But life changes, and when we get hit with bills we didn’t expect, it can be a real budget buster.

How to fix it? – Include savings for your emergency fund in your budget so when the unexpected occurs you aren’t caught off guard.

5. You didn’t budget for annual/quarterly expenses

You forgot to budget for car maintenance, quarterly sewer bills or your annual new pair of glasses and now your budget is blown.

Those one-off bills that only come once a quarter can be tricky to keep track of. Especially since you have to store the money away for several months before the bill is due.

Why it happens? – It’s much easier to focus on weekly or monthly expenses rather than annual expenses

How to fix it? Create an annual budget in addition to your monthly/weekly budget. So you can keep track of how much you need to save to ensure the annual payments will be funded.

6. You (or your kids) are popular

Maybe you get invited to a lot of baby showers, weddings, and birthday parties. Or maybe you’re kids are the life of the party and every week you’re at a kid’s birthday party.

One birthday gift isn’t a big deal, but if you’re going to 3 parties each weekend then it can get dicey. Especially if you didn’t budget enough or at all for gifts.

Why it happens? – Events pop up, sometimes unexpectedly.

How to fix it? – Be selective to which events you want to attend, and choose to make

7. You made it too complicated

I happen to love spreadsheets, but they aren’t for everyone. Creating a budget isn’t about following someone else’s path, it’s about finding an easy way that works for you.

So if you’ve downloaded 15 budget tracking documents, but get discouraged every time you need to update them then you’ll still break your budget.

It doesn’t matter how successful a plan is if you can’t stick to it.

How to fix it? – Keep things simple, and give yourself time to get it working. A budget is a fluid process. And it’ll take a few paychecks to get it running seamlessly. So trust the process and give yourself time.

8. You’re missing some categories

Just like with missing expenses and events, if you forget to add in expenses for your knitting hobby, or regular smoking habit then your budget will always be out of whack.

Why it happens? – It’s easy to try and make a budget based on the life you think you have instead of your real life.

How to fix it? Create a budget based on your actual life – daily pack of cigarettes, knitting yarn, and all. No shame, or blame – your budget needs to be an accurate depiction of how you live/spend.

9. You have analysis paralysis

You created your budget and realized you missed something. So you scrapped it and plan to start again next week.

But when next week comes around you’re so bummed out that you ‘messed up’ the budget last week that now you feel like a failure and don’t want to try again until you’re sure it’ll be perfect.

How to fix it? – Your budget doesn’t have to be perfect. Again, it’s a fluid document that is meant to adjust to how you want to live your life. Don’t be afraid that you’re making the wrong choice by using the wrong tool etc.

Just get started. Track one item – groceries for example – and then go from there. You won’t nail down every category, in the beginning, it’ll take time. Baby steps.

10. You’re not committed

If you are still constantly buying without thinking of its impact on your finances and budget then you’ll always break the bank and bust your budget.

Why it happens? – It’s super easy to save our credit card numbers in our browser and online accounts making it super convenient to make a purchase.

How to fix it? – Make the commitment that you are going to stick to your budget and remove the temptation. Clear your account information from your browsers and Target/Amazon accounts so you have to purposefully make your purchase.

It’s not always about spending

As you can see from the list, not every budget bust has to do with overspending.

Sometimes things happen and you need to adjust your budget.
There is no right or wrong way to do it. As long as you are focusing on being thoughtful about your finances and not thoughtlessly spending, then you are on the right track for managing your cashflow.

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