5 ways to mess up your budget - MoneySense

5 ways to mess up your budget

A budget is essential if you want to be in control of your money.


People love to tell me that budgets don’t work. There have even been a few experts—people who should know better—who have said that budgets are a waste of time. That’s either because they’re lazy or making so much money they don’t have to worry about the nickels and dimes. Then there’s the rest of us.

A budget is essential if you want to be in control of our money and your life. But there are some things people routinely do to blow their budgets, at which point they start to sing the “budgets don’t work” blues. It’s not the budget that isn’t working. It’s you messing with the budget that’s the problem. Here are five of the most common ways to mess up your budget. If you’re guilty of any of these, it’s time to shape up!

  1. Shopping without a list. If you go shopping without a list and leave yourself open to marketing temptations, you’ll blow your budget. There will always be stuff that jumps up and catches your attention. If you don’t have a list to keep you on track, oy! And as for going grocery shopping while you’re hungry, really? You’re still doing that?
  2. Using an ATM like a wallet. If every time you run out of money you hit up the ATM and pay anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00, you’ll kill your budget by 1,000 cuts. If you’re a frequent ATM user, take your last bank statement and add up how much all those fees amounted to. How can you say you don’t have the money to save if you spent $150 on bank fees?
  3. Carrying unassigned cash. If you aren’t tracking your cash spending, if you don’t have limits on how much cash you’ll use, or if you walk around with a wad in your pocket and then wonder where it all went, you’re a money moron. This includes all the folks who earn some of their money in tips and have no plan for how they’ll use that money. Instead they watch it disappear as quickly as it appeared.
  4. Not having a curve-ball account. People tell me about their “emergency” tire replacement, home maintenance expenses or medical costs. Really? You didn’t think those tires were ever going to wear out or that roof would have to be replaced? And because we have provincial health care or you have a company medical plan, you never gave a thought to the drugs (like Aspirin or cold medication) that aren’t covered?
  5. Neglecting your expenses. Yes, there are co-payments. There are also deductibles on insurance claims. If you don’t have a plan for how you’ll cover these, they’ll blow your budget. Hey, it’s not the budget. It’s your lack of planning.