Budget Money

9 Reasons Your Budget Sucks

May 2, 2016
If you've continuously failed at budgeting, it's probably because your doing a few things that makes your budget sucks Find out if any of the discussed reasons apply to you. If so, it's time you did something about it.
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You’ve probably made several attempts to live on a budget. You have good intentions of saving for retirement, paying cash for your next car, or steering clear of financing your next Black Friday shopping spree. Yet, somehow you always fall off the wagon when it comes to honoring your intentions. You probably last only three months on a budget, and I’m sorry to be so blunt, it’s more than likely because your budget sucks.

It’s not you. You totally rock!  You’re here at Life and a Budget trying to snatch your financial life back into its proper place and I feel you. I know where you’re coming from, but sometimes you need someone who’s going to cut it straight with you. It’s obvious your friends or ya peoples ain’t telling you, so I’m going to go ahead and drop nine reasons on why your budget sucks. Don’t worry, you can do something about it.

Reason No. 1 Your Budget Sucks: You think your credit card limit dictates the amount you list as income on your budget.

Your $3,000 credit limit with American Express is not an emergency fund! Click To Tweet

Your $3,000 credit limit with American Express is not income. This is worth repeating. Your $3,000 credit limit with American Express is not income! Your income is the amount of money you have earned either through employment, child support, alimony, pensions, investments, and/or other passive means. Also, your $3,000 credit limit with American Express is an emergency fund either.  Your emergency fund consists of income you have set aside for a rainy day.

Reason No. 2 Your Budget Sucks: Your budget depends on your upcoming pay.

What would you do if you didn’t get paid? If you’ve set up your budget to depend on each paycheck, there’s always a possibility of not getting paid. You know, people make mistakes. Payroll could be tripping and forget to approve next Friday’s paycheck. If that happens, what would you do when your landlord asks you for the rent money that’s due Friday evening?

When your bill payments depend on your next payday, you are living in a paycheck to paycheck cycle. Nothing would get paid if your money didn’t hit the bank. The best way to get out of this cycle is to set aside some of your income and get ahead of your expenses. Your goal should be to forget about payday because your livelihood would no longer depend on the next paycheck.

Reason No. 3 Your Budget Sucks: You neglect irregular or unexpected expenses.

I’ve already explained my position on unexpected expenses. They aren’t unexpected. Life happens and we all know it. Why not prepare for those crazy days? Overdue library book fees, parking tickets, insurance premiums, school fees — all of these are irregular expenses. August is the eighth month of every year. So if you have kids in school, it’s a good idea to go ahead and start preparing for those expenses.

There are multiple ways to tackle irregular or unexpected expenses. You can take an average of all of your expenses from the prior year and divide it by twelve. This should give you a rough estimate of how much you need to set aside each month. Lump all of these expenses together in a slush fund or create different savings buckets.

A lot of people put irregular expenses into one specific savings account; however, I prefer using savings buckets. This method of saving has become more popular with the rise in popularity of online banking institutions that allows multiple savings accounts.

I personally use Capital One 360 to meet our savings goals. (If you sign up with them using my referral link and deposit $250 from a non-Capital One 360 account, they give a $25 bonus. Be sure to read the rest of the details to qualify.)

Reason No. 4 Your Budget Sucks: You don’t allow for bad days or mistakes.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again...you need a buffer. Any amount would be better than nothing at all. We all have bad days. You might forget about a subscription renewal fee one day. On this same day, your power bill might be scheduled to automatically withdraw payment. If there isn’t enough money in your account, you will incur an overdraft fee.

Overdraft fees can be avoided. I mean, you can tell the bank to turn them off for Pete’s sake <insert eye roll>. You could also micro-manage your money down to the last penny, but the easiest thing to do would be keeping a little extra cash in your checking account.

A buffer in your account will save you from more than overdraft fees. It will help you get a month ahead of your expenses so you can escape the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. It will also provide a little extra cushion for those unexpected expenses I keep bringing up. Just do yourself a favor, keep a little extra change in your checking account. It will, at least, eliminate one reason why your budget sucks 😁.

Reason No. 5 Your Budget Sucks: Your budget doesn’t include savings.

Reason No. 5 Your Budget Sucks: Your budget doesn’t include savings. Click To Tweet

If you don’t have savings this means you’re not getting paid. Seriously, if all of your money is going towards bills, this means you are working for the light people, the rent people, the car people, the school people. You’re working for all kinda people. No one wants to work forty hours a week and have anything to show for it.

The purpose of working is to accumulate wealth and you can’t accumulate wealth if you’re not paying yourself first! It is imperative to sit aside ANY amount of income for yourself before you start paying the people your hard-earned wages. Don’t make everybody else rich while you work your life away.

If you feel like you have nothing to save from each paycheck, it’s time to either cut expenses or bring in extra income. You could work overtime, babysit, start a side-hustle, take a survey or two. It doesn’t matter how you do it (well, as long as it’s legal), make an effort create a surplus each month. Your surplus shouldn’t be everything that’s left over after the people get paid. Your surplus should be the money you snatch off the top. Let everyone else get paid with whatever’s leftover.

Reason No. 6 Your Budget Sucks: You are trying to make someone else’s budget work for you.

I’ve read up on all the different ways to budget. There’s the 50/30/20, zero-sum, cash budget — I won’t get into all of them because that’s another post for another day. I will say the type of budget you choose in itself does not matter. What does matter is whether the budget you’ve chosen is something you’ll stick to in the long-haul and help you achieve your financial goals.

You can’t expect your best friend’s budget to deliver the same results for you. You are two completely different people with different personalities. You might even be living completely different lifestyles. Why would a budget that works for a 20-year-old single person work exactly the same for a 35-year-old married couple who has three kids?

Regardless of what method you choose to use for your budgeting system, make sure it’s something that will work for you. If you have a family, your budgeting style must reflect them as well. Never compare your finances or the way you handle your money to someone else. There’s a reason they call it personal finance. Take whatever budget method you prefer and tweak it so it works for you.

Reason No. 7 Your Budget Sucks: Your budget isn’t built to handle regular car or home maintenance.

This is a pet peeve of mine. It amazes me when someone gets bent out of sorts over a flat tire or dead battery. It’s amazing because car maintenance or repairs shouldn’t be a surprise. Cars aren’t built to last forever and as soon as you drive it off the lot you’re at risk of a flat tire or some other type of car emergency.

So, why is it so many people can’t understand this type of expense should be just as expected as their car note? When you create your budget, go ahead and include car maintenance. It’s shouldn’t be an option. If you have a car, it’s expected.

If it will help, use this little trick.  Let’s assume you have a car payment (because all of us haven’t gotten on the replace your car in cash train yet. Just being real). Instead of putting the actual amount of your car note into your budget, overestimate the expense. Say your car payment is $240, put down $270 in your budget category.

Have the extra $30 automatically withdrawn from your checking account on the day you make your car payment. The car people will get paid and your car maintenance coins will stack up. Next time your tire is flat or your battery dies, you will already have the money set aside to use. The same little savings trick can apply to your home maintenance savings as well.

Reason No. 8 Your Budget Sucks: There is a leak in your budget.

Leaks. I’m not going to lie — this little problem sometimes gets the best of me too. You buy a candy bar here, a piece of gum there, a newspaper, a nail file — everywhere you go change is falling out of your pocket. Those coins add up!

I don’t like itemizing my budget. I can’t wrap my head around budgeting for every single thing I spend money on, but that doesn’t give me a pass to spend frivolously either. To keep a seal on leaks, go ahead and create an expense in your budget for “everything else”. Everyone needs a little fun money or spending money to do something with.

Reason No. 9 Your Budget Sucks: You’re living above your means.

If you’re accumulating debt to keep up with your current lifestyle, you’re living above your means. The only way to get back down to your level would be to cut your expenses and live off the actual amount of money you make, not the money you wish you made. Everybody can’t be like the Kardashians. Trying to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous when you’re working in a cubicle along with the rest of us is not a good look.

If you can only afford cubed steak for dinner, don’t purchase the filet mignon on credit. Click To Tweet

TLC said it best, “stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.” If your money can only afford you a boat to ride on the lake, don’t try to buy a yacht. If you can only afford cubed steak for dinner, don’t purchase the filet mignon on credit. If your dream is to live like a baller with a big body Benz, save up for it instead of financing it. Live within your means.

Okay, I’m done.

I want to see you win. I believe there is room for all of us to win with our personal finances if we’re willing to put in the hard work that’s involved. Like it or not, chances of winning the lottery are slim and the most many of us have to work with are those paychecks. To make those paychecks go as far as they can go, we must create budgets that will work in our favor — not budgets that suck. So, if any of the above applies to you, don’t fret my dear. Next week I’m going to follow up on how to create a budget that won’t fail.

Don’t be shy. Has your budget ever sucked? Does your budget still suck?

If you've continuously failed at budgeting, it's probably because your doing a few things that makes your budget sucks Find out if any of the discussed reasons apply to you. If so, it's time you did something about it.


Need an awesome budgeting tool to get you out of budget suck mode? Start here. This Super Fab Planner is highly recommended.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, Disease Called Debt and The Millennial Budget*

Latoya Scott
CFEI/Social Entrepreneur
Latoya Scott is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and personal finance writer with a mission to help millennials learn how to stop living paycheck to paycheck so they can become financially carefree.

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  • Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog May 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I agree with all of these except the savings part. I look at my budget as my expenses for the month, and savings isn’t really an expense. I definitely put money into each of my savings account each month, but I don’t put that on my budget spreadsheet. As I write this comment, I’m thinking that maybe I should! Lol.
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    • Latoya Scott May 2, 2016 at 6:27 pm

      Oh, no, lol! I couldn’t do it! If I don’t purposely assign the expense to myself I won’t do it. Nine West and COACH would have all my little money. I consider my savings a bill that I pay to myself.

  • Amanda @centsiblyrich May 2, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Great list!

    Not relying on upcoming paychecks is good advice. Living paycheck to paycheck is dangerous. Several years ago, I worked for an agency that had a budget balancing issue and I didn’t get paid for a month. They made up for it the next month, but still…

    • Latoya Scott May 2, 2016 at 6:28 pm

      Wow, that could significantly mess someone up. Glad they did make up for it in the end, geesh!

  • Sylvia @Professional Girl on the Go May 2, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Normally my budget is pretty good but I think May’s budget would fall under #7. I mean, my budget for May really sucks and I think it is because the universe had it out for me. When I got home on Thursday night I was out of water and I had to order two loads of water. $180 gone (24 hour service came to the rescue). Then my mom said we are taking my uncle to dinner for his 80th birthday. $150 disappeared from my wallet, just like that. And yesterday I notice the water wasn’t running (that’s right the water I paid $180 for less than two days ago!). The water pump has a leak and couldn’t maintain the pressure to push the water through the pipes. That cost is unknown, but I will probably have to pay an arm and a leg. And when I thought my Sunday couldn’t get any worse, my brand new pyrex dish shattered into a gazillion pieces. Another $20 just out the door!

    So the $350 I thought I was going to save was gone before May even started. I guess I will have to put a category in my budget for maintenance and repairs.
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    • Latoya Scott May 2, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      Oh gosh, Sylvia…yeah that pretty much sucks! We’re having a plumbing issue right now and I’m in Florida right now so that’s an expense I know that I’ll have to think about when I get back home. I’m so happy we have something set aside for it because May is a pretty busy month with Mother’s Day, wedding anniversary, and both Mom’s birthday!

  • Gary @ Super Saving Tips May 2, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    My budget doesn’t suck, but it could do with a bump in the savings area to make it awesome. This is a great list of really important budgeting points. I’d just add not to forget about taxes. Either use after-tax pay for income, or budget taxes in your expenses, but don’t forget about the tax man because he won’t forget about you!
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  • Latoya May 2, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Ooh, yes this is soo true! Definitely have to make sure those are accounted for!
    Latoya recently posted…9 Reasons Your Budget SucksMy Profile

  • DC @ Young Adult Money May 3, 2016 at 12:31 am

    “Your budget isn’t built to handle regular car or home maintenance.” This is a big one, especially for homeowners! I’ve been amazed at how much we’ve had to put into our house since buying it ~4 years ago. You almost need a second emergency fund just to cover off on the things that will go wrong, need replacing, etc.
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    • Latoya S May 3, 2016 at 12:50 am

      Definitely, a house emergency fund isn’t a bad idea at all. Homeowners are responsible for a lot of stuff. Just this weekend right before my work trip our kitchen sink decides it doesn’t want to drain. The expenses definitely add up and I’m glad we have it covered.

      • DC @ Young Adult Money May 9, 2016 at 9:15 pm

        Perfect example of something random going wrong. A kitchen sink not draining! There are so many things that can go wrong. Perhaps I’m a bit paranoid because I’ve gone through so many things since becoming a homeowner…that’ll happen when your basement floods the first Summer in the house : )
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        • Latoya S May 10, 2016 at 1:15 am

          Ouch, yes, I can’t even imagine. Oh and that plumbing issue – $627 gone just like that. So I can’t urge people enough to have funds set aside for things like that. I would have cried if we didn’t have the money to cover it.

  • Prudence Debtfree May 4, 2016 at 7:58 am

    I think that another thing that makes budgets suck is that some of us write a budget and then fail to track our expenditures. If you don’t track the reality of your spending, you can’t tweak your budget in a way that leads to success in keeping it. There’s a balance between setting goals and acknowledging reality that has to happen in budgeting. Tracking helps individuals to strike that balance.
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    • Latoya S May 4, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Yes, that is definitely a good point. I’ll admit, my budget could get a boost from tracking expenses and it’s something I’m going to immediately start doing so I can get a better handle on some of those things I seem to love too much (candy, cookies and such).

  • Christine @ The Mostly Simple Life May 7, 2016 at 11:45 am

    These are all really good points! We don’t pretty well with most of them. We save as best we can for car and house repairs and we have a pretty big emergency fund in case something breaks really badly. Our hardest part is just little leaks here and there. Going out to eat or out for ice cream… I try to plan for most of it, but when we get to the end of the month things don’t always go as planned 🙂
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    • Latoya Scott May 7, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      We have similar hiccups. I don’t really sweat about them since they are coming out of our discretionary money, but I am aware of the fact that if we didn’t have so much “discretionary” left over after paying bills and savings, we could contribute more towards are savings.

  • Mel @ brokeGIRLrich May 8, 2016 at 11:57 am

    When I first made a budget, I would always forget the big “once a year” expenses like contacts or the eye doctor. It was a real budget killer.

  • Latoya May 9, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Uh oh! That makes two of us. I wear glasses and I don’t include them in the budget. I’m supposed to get my eyes checked every two years and I think I’m going on 4! They aren’t something I plan on replacing anytime soon because I often forget to wear then in the first place. Smh.
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