The most common piece of financial advice that you’ll hear is that you need to have a budget. If you’re not keeping track of your spending and budgeting your money correctly, it’s very difficult to be in a stable financial position. And you won’t be able to save up money for the future or at the very least it will be harder to do.
The problem is, people always make it sound so easy. Just write a family budget and then you’ll magically be able to manage to spend with no issues at all.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the reality. It takes a bit of time to get used to budgeting, and the chances are, you’re probably going to go over it a couple of times to start with.
That’s not the end of the world as long as you’re learning from your mistakes and working within your budget as much as possible. But if you’ve been trying to budget your money for months and you’re going way over every single time, you’ve got more significant problems.
The good news is, those problems are easily fixed. These are the possible reasons why you can’t stick to a family budget and what you can do about it.
8 Reasons Why Your Family Budget Isn’t Working
Not Having A Goal In Mind
Budgeting your money is vital for general financial security, but it’s a lot easier to stick to a budget if you’ve got a specific goal in mind.
That might be paying off your credit card debts, saving up money for your kid’s education or just having more money to take the family away on vacation more often.
Whatever that goal might be, it’s essential that you’ve got a reason for wanting to be more sensible with your money. That way, every time you pick up something and go to buy it, you’ll ask yourself whether it’s really worth it or not. Having that incentive to save is a real game changer when you’re trying to stick to a strict family budget.
As we already mentioned, paying off debts is one of the best reasons to start budgeting. You’ll feel a huge sense of relief when you get rid of your debt burden. But if you’ve got high debts, sticking to that budget is harder than you realize.
If you have a bad credit score and you’ve borrowed a lot of money, chances are that there will be a high-interest rate on those debts. If you’re already struggling financially, you’ll only be paying the minimum payments which usually just cover the interest.
You’re not actually clearing any of the debt, you’re just throwing money away every single month. But if you can remove those debts, you’ll have more money to play with at the end of the month because you’re not wasting money on those interest payments.
The best thing to do is draw up a strict family budget that cuts back on luxuries that you don’t really need. Then you can put all of the extra money you’re saving right back into your debts.
For the first couple of months, it feels like that money is going nowhere. But once you’re debt free, you’ll realize just how much difference it makes.
Paying Too Much For Monthly Bills
When you’re drawing up a budget, you’ll list all of the monthly expenses that are essential. Things like gas and electric bills, mortgage payments, phone bills, internet bills, groceries, etc. are all things that you can’t do without. But have you ever wondered if you’re paying too much for them?
So many people fall into this trap because they get good introductory deals with companies when they first sign up and then just forget about it.
Over the years, prices will start to creep up, and you won’t notice. Your utility bills and your phone and internet bills are big ones.
You need to start using comparison sites like moneypug to see whether there are any better deals out there. You’ll probably find that you can save a lot of money by switching providers.
If you can cut the amount of money you’re paying out each month, your budget will look a lot healthier in no time.
As well as finding better deals on all of your monthly outgoings, you should see whether there are some that you don’t really need to be paying.
You can’t skip out on paying for your mortgage, but do you really need that gym membership that you haven’t used in 6 months?
It’s so easy to forget about subscriptions, especially if they’re only small payments. But they’ll soon add up and, without even realizing it, you could be wasting loads of money every month.
TV subscriptions always catch people out as well. If you’ve already got a cable subscription, do you need to pay for Netflix and Amazon Video as well? The answer is probably no, you can have all 3 when you can afford it, but right now, you can make do with 1 TV subscription service.
Extra Curricular Activities
It’s not the big bills that mess up your budget, it’s the small costs that you barely even notice, adding up over time. Any extracurricular activities that the kids are involved in are going to cost money.
If they play any sports, for example, you’ll need to pay for all of their kit and possibly a fee for training sessions. At the time, these purchases feel small, but if you’ve got a couple of children and they’re all doing one or two activities each, that money is going to add up over the months.
You need to remember to factor those costs in when you’re drawing up a monthly budget, otherwise, you’ll end up going over all the time.
Not Planning For Fun
People often think that having a budget means that you can never spend any money on fun stuff, but that’s not the case. If you draw up a strict budget that only covers the bare essentials and doesn’t leave any money for family days out, you’re never going to stick to it.
Spending quality time with the family is essential, and you’re going to do it whether you’ve budgeted for it or not. If you’re unrealistic about your budget and don’t include money for leisure activities, you’ll end up going over every month, and you won’t be able to stay in control of your finances.
It’s far better to be realistic and set aside some money for fun activities with the family.
Saving Too Much
You’re probably a bit confused about this one. Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons for having a family budget is so you can save up money for the future?
That’s true, but if you’re trying to save too much money every month, it’ll actually make it harder to stick to your family budget. If you put half of your wages into a savings account when you get paid, you might think that you’re doing a great job of saving.
But the thing is, you haven’t left enough money in your budget to actually pay for the things that you need. Halfway through the month, you’ll run out of money and end up taking some of that cash out of your savings account again.
Even if you’re still saving a bit, it’s a bad habit to get into. If you start dipping into your savings account regularly, you’ll be more likely to start spending that cash on frivolous things.
What you need to do is get into the habit of not touching the money at all if you want to save successfully. You’re much better off being realistic about what you need to spend each month and then saving what you can actually afford to.
Not Working As A Team
When you’re trying to budget for the family, it’s only going to work if everybody is on the same page. You can be as strict as you like with it, but it makes no difference if your partner is going out and spending money without a care.
Communication is essential here because you might not even realize that you’re overspending until it’s too late if neither of you knows how much the other is spending.
Discuss your financial position regularly and keep a written note of how much you’ve spent that day, so you both know exactly where you stand at all times.
If you’re struggling to keep track of your spending, you should download a budgeting app. There are some great ones out there that link to your bank account so you can easily see how much is in there and how much you can afford to spend that day.
Don’t Give up on a Budget
When you first start out, it’ll take time to adjust to your new budget. The days of spending without thinking about it are over, and that takes a bit of time to get used to.
It’s okay if you don’t stick to the budget for the first couple of weeks. But if you get a few months down the line and find that you’re always going over your family budget, you’re probably making one of these mistakes.
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Donna is a Professional Blogger, Brand Ambassador, Social Media Consultant, Freelancer, wife, and proud mom. Blog by Donna encompasses all that… she writes about family life and being a woman while weaving in articles about the brands and products she and her family love.