CindyS of Oh My Aching Debts asked me to list my top 5 budget busters. On the one hand, it seemed like an easy assignment. Then again, I’m not sure what qualifies as a budget-buster and what doesn’t. Here’s what I came up with…

I don’t think I have a top 5 budget busters. Occasionally something squeezes the budget but it’s not normally in the same area—like snacks or buying stuff for kids.

It comes down to two problems when planning the budget: Forgetfulness and Hopefulness

Forgetfulness:

When I’m working on the month’s budget I sometimes completely forget to include an expense. For example, this month I forgot to budget for a wedding present for my cousin. And I literally don’t have anything suitable for an evening wedding at this time of year (my fancy dress wardrobe is a little sparse right now). Fortunately, there’s a misc. cushion which tends to work for this kind of thing.

So there’ll be a trip to some consignment shops for a dress or somesuch (problem being that I don’t particularly want to show off my legs…for fuzzy reasons) and we’ll check out their registry.

Hopefulness

My hopeful disposition* sometimes leads me to ignore past spending patterns and think “but we’ll do better this time.” There’s nothing wrong with planning to do better and using the budget as a way to keep the goal. But there’s a difference between being hopeful and being stupid.

For instance, I often hope that we won’t actually eat. Of course we’ll eat. In fact, we like three meals a day. Moreover, while I try to practice frugal cooking I don’t want to only drink powdered milk like Micah’s family did when he was little. So we drink little milk, but more than none. Water would be cheaper, but it wouldn’t be milk. Cooking only rice and lentils would be quite cheap, but it wouldn’t be as healthy as having veggies or as tasty as having meat and spices sometimes.

Fortunately some of this that can be improved with practice. Our spending needs change occasionally and our budgets have to adapt likewise. I’m learning how much we really do need to spend in some areas. And Quicken is helping me out. :)

Please tag yourselves since I’m never sure who likes to participate in memes and who doesn’t. Can be either your 5 budget busters, or if you can’t think of that then what does make you bust your budget. If you’ve never had trouble with a budget…wow.

Some related posts from the blogosphere:

Pete of Bible Money Matters shares his 5 Budget Busters.

Lynnae of Being Frugal shares how to make a budget that works!

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*Micah would find the term “hopeful disposition” a misnomer. But sometimes I have a hopeful disposition. It’s just that my moods shift so rapidly it’s kind of amusing to watch. In fact, he can cheer me up just by pointing out that I was happy just 10 seconds before and horribly depressed 2 minutes before that. It’s not exactly “rapid cycling”…more of bounces between ordinary mild cheer and intense despair. No mania.


{ 8 trackbacks }

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Pete @biblemoneymatters April 12, 2008 at 1:32 pm

thanks for the link! i like the one about being hopeful – hoping that you won’t eat! haha.

Pension April 12, 2008 at 2:04 pm

It’s easy enough to forget to budget for something – especially a special occasion!

Lynnae April 12, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Forgetfulness gets me every time, too!

Thanks for the link!

Becky@FamilyandFinances April 12, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Great answer!

Hey, I think someone needs to put a definition of “meme” into the Finwikian. I don’t feel qualified to, but hopefully someone out there does!
:)

Vered - MomGrind April 12, 2008 at 8:37 pm

I think that one budget buster is tiredness… when you just get tired of pinching pennies and saving and you feel like you “deserve” a splurge.

Christine April 13, 2008 at 8:58 am

Do you remember the way we mix milk here? Half the jug is real skim, half is made from the powdered stuff. It really stretches it.

mrsmicah April 13, 2008 at 9:17 am

@Christine, we do that too, I got the idea from your family. :)

Shanti @ Antishay April 14, 2008 at 12:00 pm

HAHHA – I love that you said you hope that you won’t eat. I run into this problem all the time… my brain just says, “Well, we’re not going to need to buy many groceries this week…” and then later my stomach says, “are you kidding me?” It’s a constant battle, LOL.

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