4 Big Reasons Your Budget Keeps Failing


Some people just aren’t able to stick to a budget. It’s not their fault; they must have something in their DNA that makes them awful at it. Or maybe they’re just horrible people.

If you’ve ever felt this way about yourself, it’s time to stop being so hard on yourself and get to the bottom of why you’re really having trouble making your budget work. It’s quite possible the odds are stacked against you by one (or more) of the following things that make it nearly impossible to budget successfully.

Identify the traps you’re falling into, and you may find it surprisingly easy to start sticking to that budget after all.

1. It’s Not Realistic

Your budget isn’t supposed to be a wish list of how you wish you could spend your money if everything was perfect. It’s supposed to be a tool that helps you spend the money you have in a way that covers the expenses you need to cover. In order to do this, you need to be real about your situation.

If you’re trying to feed a family of 5 on a $20-a-month grocery budget, you’re probably not going to succeed. If you’re trying to put aside $500 a month in savings when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you may need to dial your aim down a notch. You want to challenge yourself, yes, but not set yourself up for a goal that’s impossible.

2. It Doesn’t Let You Have Any Fun

It’s hard to stick to your budget day in and day out when you feel like all it’s doing is telling you things you can’t have or can’t do.

It’s like trying to lose weight by eating nothing but crackers and water; eventually you’ll get so fed up with your barebones diet you’ll splurge and eat an entire ice cream sundae out of frustration. You need to budget in a little “fun,” even if it’s only a few bucks a week to buy a magazine or a latte.

3. You Haven’t Planned for the Unexpected

You absolutely must have an emergency savings fund if you want to be able to stick to your budget. Emergency savings covers all those unexpected, pricey things that crop up and threaten to ruin your budget: car repairs, medical bills, etc. Start saving now so you can handle these things in the future.

4. You’re Not Following It

This is where we say that, while you should stop beating yourself up, you do need to be honest with yourself. Do you have any bad habits that are keeping your otherwise-useful budget from really doing its job? Do you tend to give in to impulse purchases? Is shopping a hobby for you? Do you make a lot of “just this one time” exceptions when you’re faced with an out-of-budget purchase? Even if your budget is airtight, it will never truly work unless you’re willing to put in the work yourself and follow its guidelines.