The Top Ten Things that Ruin Budgets

atm pad

By Mitchell D Weiss

Budgets are a necessity to keep personal finances in order, but they aren’t necessarily easy to keep.There are plenty of things that can quickly ruin a budget and ruin the best laid financial plans. Here are the top ten things that ruin budgets:

Shopping Hungry or without a Plan of Attack

This one’s obvious — don’t go food shopping hungry and be sure to have a list in hand. Otherwise you’ll blow your budget. Also, carefully consider moving up to larger, economy sized products. Compare cost per volume or weight and also, focus on the shelf life because you’re going to have it around for a while longer.

Frequent ATM Use

Most of my studen


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10 Responses to The Top Ten Things that Ruin Budgets

  1. Jay says:

    Ah, “Unexpected or Unbudgeted Repairs and Maintenance” — the bane of homeowners!

  2. Bane is right! These and insurance deductibles are truly unhappy surprises. All the more reason for a healthy savings stash.

  3. Rosie says:

    I agree to every one…can I add one more…adult family members and adult children who ask for money to meet their expenses due to their inability to be responsible and budget.

  4. Jay says:

    Do you agree with the recommendation to set aside, for repairs and maintenance, 5-10% of your home’s value per year? Argh….!
    Regarding deductibles, some are predictable (e.g., auto); others (like all the medical insurance caveats) are harder to predict. Access to and funding an FSA can help tremendously, though.

    Great article, as usual. Thanks!

  5. Depending on the value of the house, 5-10% is a pretty big nut to crack. Instead, I’d suggest putting a dollar value on the things you’d like to do (update bathroom, kitchen, new deck, etc.), do a timeline for them and then, set up a savings plan that works with your budget. As for the house, car and healthcare deductibles, to the extent you can, they should really be covered up front. Good luck!

  6. Jay says:

    Good point(s) and a logical, common sense approach. Makes it feel doable, with planning!.

  7. Thanks, Jay. It’s the same way the undergrads are learning to deal with these things in the course I teach—set the objectives, do a timeline, make a plan.

  8. I agree, Rosie, enabling adult children is not only a budget-buster, the longer term implications can be even more serious. What will they do when the money runs out or, when mom and dad decide to say “no?” Our kids are grown and making it on their own, which gives my wife and I the ability to decide if, when and how to help, as opposed to being asked or expected to do so. In fact, if it were expected, I’d probably not be so inclined.

  9. Sandy says:

    These are all so true, especially uninsured losses and unfunded deductibles. Those of us who are self-employed, for example, can save a lot with a high deductible health insurance – unless there’s no money in your HSA when you need to use it. It’s essential to plan for that rainy day, little by little, while the sun is shining.

  10. Gail says:

    What is really rough is the self-employed person that can’t get health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. Just enough assets to not qualify for help, but barely enough (if that) to pay for the medical bills. One does the best one can and that includes living an extremely frugal lifestyle.

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