The Most Common Family Budgeting Mistakes to Avoid



Trying to stretch your family’s income to cover the full month can be a tough task. However, you can give yourself the best possible chance of doing so by avoiding some of the most common budgeting mistakes.

These mistakes can range from being too optimistic, to not being optimistic or ambitious enough.

You could make your family budgeting schedule too rigid, but you could also make it too complicated. Simply put, if a budget is unrealistic then it simply won’t work.

With this in mind, let’s look at some of the potential problems or mistakes mentioned above and see what we can do to avoid them.


Being Too Optimistic


It would be fantastic to be able to put a big lump sum into our saving accounts every month, wouldn’t it? This way we could very quickly build up a very nice sum of money in our accounts.

Having said that, for most of us it simply isn’t possible to put away as much money as we would like to each month, so if you try and save more money than you can really afford then the risk is that you will have to access your savings before the month is out.

On the other hand, if you work your figures out correctly and save only what you can reasonably afford then you can top up your savings account without fear.


Not Being Ambitious Enough


This is the opposite of the previous point and it can be just as fatal to your plans for financial well-being. If you are earning enough to start to pay off your debts and put away some savings or even to start investing, then you should make every effort to do this as well as you possibly can.

You can’t expect to get this right at the very first attempt but over the months you should start to see how it is possible to find the balance between being too optimistic and not being ambitious enough.

If you feel that you always have extra money left over that you fritter away each month then it is time to be more ambitious.


Not Being Flexible Enough


One important point to bear in mind when working out your family budget is the fact that not every single month is going to be the same. For example, some months will have more special occasions in them than others.

If you try and budget exactly the same for every month of the year then some months you might come up short and other times you will miss the chance to save more money.

Each month can be worked out in the same way but you need to take into account any changes to your income of outgoings first of all.


Not Tracking Your Budget


It is all very well setting up a gleaming Excel spreadsheet with all of your figures on it. However, it won’t count for much if you don’t then track it and update it as the month progresses.

There are many different factors that could throw your family budgeting plans off track during the month and it would be wise to make any changes or updates as soon as possible.

It can be tempting to leave all of this until the end of the month but by then it could be too late to make any necessary adjustments.


Making Budgeting Too Complicated


Controlling your monthly family budget shouldn’t be a hugely complicated issue at all. All it really needs is a free budgeting spreadsheet where you plug in your monthly income and outgoings in order to work out how much you have left.

There are some budgeting mobile apps around that can help with this but it is only really worth getting a fairly basic, simple one. The more complicated you make it the more chance there is of you doing something wrong.

Keep it simple and there will be less risk of messing up your budget. Using the simple approach also means that you can share the responsibility of updating the budget with other family members if you like.

Can you think of any other family budgeting mistakes to avoid?

Post contribution: Today’s post was written by Adam who runs the UK based personal finance blog Money Bulldog.


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  1. I couldn’t agree more especially on “Not Being Flexible Enough”. Every month for us is completely different because of some special occasions like birthdays, travel, holidays, and a lot more. Despite it, I and my wife try as much as possible to balance out everything and meet everyone’s craving. 😀

  2. Not being ambitious enough is huge. I really had no idea what I was capable of until I set forth and started doing it!

  3. I’ve budgeted for years but its only been the last few years that I’ve really started paying attention. I’ve used the budget in the past to ensure that I’ve had enough money for the mandatory bills and how much could be spent on groceries and life but didn’t record how much was actually spent in those categories.

    I agree, the budget needs to be simple but have enough information to make the output worth while. This will ensure that it helps you reach your goal, whatever that may be.

    • I agree with you too Dee that a budget needs to be simple as most people don’t have time for complicated, What pitfalls have you run into while budgeting?

  4. Christine Weadick says:

    Another thought is to keep trying…. as the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. I wonder how many people will make a budget,have something happen that wasn’t in the budget and give up on it as a lost cause?? Getting that budget right can be hitting a moving target…

  5. Mary F. Campbell says:

    Don’t quit! Rome wasn’t built in a day. You are going to find flaws with the budget at least once a year. Adjust the budget, learn from the changes, make modifications based on both recurring and one time situations BUT certainly do not throw in the towel because of a small hiccup. We have a $500 approx. car repair bill to look forward to after our vacation. 🙁 You say, hmmm, and where do I find that amount of money after a trip?? I decreased other categories in our budget for that one month because it’s easier for me to save for a bill than replace funds that I had previously saved. I have a car repair savings but I have only $2,100 in it. I want to save that for a truly nasty bill that I can not scramble and cover using only the funds available coming into our accounts in the given monththat they are required. That’s my little quirk but I don’t let it lead me into the destruction of my budget. 🙂

    We are tightening our vacation funds budget for food and having most meals in the villa and we aren’t going hog wild splurging on anything exotic or expensive. I know exactly where we stand on the travel budget because I am updating our accounts daily. Hubby counts on me to say, we need to slow down on spending or stop entirely. He’ll work with me to make sure we have no big, black hole of overspending post-vacation. The food prices on Kauai are a lot more expensive than at home so we have shifted gears and bought very little expensive protein. I got a rotisserie chicken but I can easily turn that into 4-5 meals using it in soup, sandwiches, nachos and whatnot. Suddenly that’s become an affordable purchase. I also have a dozen eggs and 4 cans of tuna left – there’s a million things I can do to make those proteins to stretch the budget like an elastic to being taut but not breaking. Hubby loved our cold dinner last night and really enjoyed the chocolate sundaes we made for dessert. Best part, there’s enough leftovers to repeat that same dinner in a few days time. 😀

    Recognize that practice makes perfect. We all learn budget tips and tricks as we go along. Recognizing that my best intentions to replace savings when I willy nilly use them does not translate into a fact for me was HUGE. My best intentions aren’t enough. This is work. If I treat it so & just keep plugging, I will get to my goal eventually. Maybe you have my little quirk, maybe something else is yours. Work with it. Trying to change who I am is senseless, but recognizing my quirk and walking a path around it…works for me. We all have temptations – I would love to buy a piece of Hawaiian heirloom jewellery while I am here but I did not manage to save up for it before the trip so…no jewellery for me this time. Maybe I will do it the next time we are on Kauai. 🙂

  6. Ugh, we’ve fallen prey to all of these mistakes. Not tracking our spending/fearing budgeting was the worst. It caused us to turn a blind eye to what we were spending.

  7. Trying to budget down to every penny is a silly goal. Unless you’re the most predictable (and boring!) person on earth, this will never work for you.

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