Everyone wants to save money. But that’s easier said than done, especially for families. There are plenty of families who take every care in the book to save money and stick to a monthly budget, but find themselves way over their designated budget at the end of every month. In most cases the person who is in charge of the family budget and is responsible for controlling expenses is the woman of the family. Invariably, the blame for the household budget going way over is laid at her doors. But is she really to blame or the blame lies elsewhere? Let’s take a look at a few reasons behind overshooting household budgets that will give us an idea as to just who is to blame:
- Setting impractical goal posts First check whether you really have figured out an achievable savings goal. If your household budget target’s ‘x’ amount of savings every month, take an honest and critical look at it. Is that figure really achievable? Nine times out of ten you will find that it isn’t. The fact is, when we set out to work out a budget for our household items, many of us aren’t very practical about it. The ideal budget is when you consider all expenses at the middle or higher end of the scale and not at the lower end of the scale. For e.g. if you think your grocery expenses are $200 at the lower end of the scale, earmark around $300 for your grocery budget. That’s how budgets must be planned. The $100 acts as the ideal buffer that will help you stick within your budget, even if you overshoot the $200 figure.
- Not involving all stakeholders Yes, you are the boss as far as the monthly budget is concerned, but have you taken the opinion of the kids and also your husband (assuming the wife/mother was in charge of the budget) while planning the budget. You can’t just ask your kids to stick to a budgetary plan where you tell them when and how to spend money. You need to talk to them about it and explain why curbing their expenses is important. Otherwise, they might make demands that result in your household budget going way over budget. Let’s take a very simple example to illustrate our point; you have planned three restaurant visits in a month to curtail your spending, but while deciding the number of visits you have not taken the opinion of your kids. They might be expecting a trip to a restaurant every week. In such cases, you will be at cross purposes with their expectations. So keep them posted about your budget plan. Make them a part of the discussion and don’t ignore their suggestions or opinions. The whole family needs to work towards achieving the budget target.
- Have you planned for the unplanned? Have you figured in the birthdays coming up in the month? Have you figured in the cost of celebrating an important occasion in the month? Have you kept the costs of gifts in mind, for the various celebrations you might be attending in the month? Have you kept aside some money for medical expenses? These are all unplanned expenses that are added to the monthly household budget. You need to plan for them as well. Keep them in mind while working out your budget, or it will definitely go over and above the amount you have zeroed in on.
- You aren’t keeping track of your expenses One of the best budgeting tips that you can ever find is that you need to keep track of your expenses if you want them to stay within budget. The fact that they are going way over your budget means you aren’t keeping track of them. Make it a habit to go over your expenses and that of your family, every night before going to bed. Make sure you note them down and when you have some free time, just give the figures a once over. By taking stock of your expenses, you will know whether you are heading in the right direction or not, as far as meeting your budget goals are concerned. If you realize that you might not be able to meet the goals the way things stand, either change the goals or take steps to minimize ensuing expenses so that you are able to meet them.
- Are you trying too hard? Sometimes the fact that you are trying too hard to cut down costs and control your family’s household expenses might be the reason why you are over shooting your budget. How? Well, the fact that you are putting too much pressure on yourself might see you making incorrect buying decisions. Making the wrong choices might result in endless debates and discussions about how to spend and why the budget is not working. This will put you under another round of pressure to make the right spending choices, which can just lead to the wrong ones. Result- through the month you will end up making bad spending choices that will affect your budget.
The Wrap If these reasons don’t explain why your monthly household budget is way over, keep looking for other contributing factors. These are definitely not the be all and end all of reasons that affect a budget; there are plenty of other reasons that might be at work to derail your household budget. What you need to do is look for the right answers and keep looking for them, if you aren’t immediately able to identify one.