The Everyday Budgeting Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make

This post was written by a contributing writer. I only share information that I find fun, informative, or important. Enjoy!

Everyone knows that they should be spending less and saving more whenever they can.

Unfortunately, great spending habits seem to take a lifetime to build, and a moment to destroy.

The good news is that a commitment to budgeting can help you to regain control of your spending
habits and start making a real difference to your financial future. With budgeting, you can figure out
where you might be using your money inappropriately, where you need to adjust your spending
strategies, and where you might be able to save more.

Of course, before you can make the most of budgeting, you need to learn how to avoid the most
common budgeting mistakes. Here are the pitfalls you can't afford to keep making.

1. Ignoring the Value of Accuracy

Accuracy is a critical component of any financial strategy. When you start budgeting, one of the first
things you'll do is start tracking how much you spend, compared to how much you earn. This means
making a note of all of your expenses - including the little things like your lunches at work and your
morning coffee.

While it's tempting to let the little things slide when you're not used to watching your spending habits,
this can also be a dangerous way to lose track of your finances. It's important to keep an eye on
everything you spend - no matter how small little expenses might seem.

2. Not Being Realistic

One of the biggest mistakes that people make with budgeting is trying to create the financial situation
that they want to be in, rather than looking at their realistic circumstances, and creating a strategy that
actually works for them. If you set your targets too high too fast, then you'll be more likely to give up
on your goals after a few setbacks. On the other hand, if you set your goals too low, then you won't
make any significant changes.

The best thing you can do is look back over your statements and get a realistic overview of your
spending habits, and what you need to change in the months going forward. Remember to keep some
extra cash aside for little things like the occasional treat. You shouldn't expect yourself to give up
everything you enjoy straight away.

3. Buying on Impulse

Another big budgeting mistake is allowing yourself to buy on impulse. For instance, if you go to the
store on an empty stomach, you're more likely to stock up on snacks and extra food that you don't
really need. Impulse buying is a common concern for many consumers and something that it often
takes time and focus to overcome.

A good way to reduce your risk of impulse buying is to commit to a 24-hour cooling-off period
between seeing something you want to buy and actually purchasing it. There's a good chance that
you're not going to go back to the supermarket a day later to buy that bar of chocolate you were
eyeing up in the shop. However, if you're thinking of purchasing something you really need, 24 hours
will give you enough time to figure out how the purchase fits into your budget.

4. Forgetting to Prepare for the Unexpected

While accuracy is crucial for a good budget, you also need to remember that things don't always go
according to plan. Giving yourself just enough money to spend on the bills every month, and then
instantly blowing the rest of your cash on other things means that you have nothing left over when
things go wrong. It's important to have a safety blanket in place just in case.

Save aside a little portion of your money each month for a segment that's neither in your "savings" or
"bills" budgets. This safety blanket cash will be there for sudden health expenses, car breakdowns,
and other problems that demand attention straight away.

5. Failing to Budget as a Team

Finally, if there's more than just you making purchases and paying bills in your household, then there
also needs to be more than just you in your budget strategy. Getting everyone together to discuss the
limits of the cash you have to spend each month can help make budgeting go a lot more smoothly.
Start by outlining essential expenses together, like rent, groceries, and utilities, then work on giving
everyone a little bit of what they want.

Budgeting means that everyone will have to make a compromise somewhere. However, working
together from the start can help to keep arguments to a minimum, and ensure that everyone stays on
the same page.

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