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7 Ways Your Budget Plan Is Being Compromised By Your Expenses

wallet with a band aidIf you are trying to practice smart spending, there is one tool that you will need to have: a budget plan. After the Great Recession, more and more consumers understand the need for budgeting in their financial lives. But that understanding does not necessarily come with application.

Although more people are budgeting, it is not enough to correct the spending habits that have ruined a lot of consumers during the economic collapse. According to the McKinsey Consumer Sentiment Survey, more people are living from paycheck to paycheck compared to 2012 and 2013. Also, more people admit to a decreased ability to make ends meet. The results published on McKinsey.com revealed that more consumers may be optimistic about the country, but that does not mean it is making our financial situation better. For a lot of us, things just seem to be stagnant – not improving but not declining either. This is not a good indication when you think about the improvements in the economy.

One cannot help but wonder – what would it take to improve our financial situation? A budget plan can certainly help.

7 overlooked expenses that can cripple your budget

There are many ways that budgeting can help us improve our finances. In can actually help us with our debt payments. It can also help us understand the limits of our spending so we are kept from overspending. It can even help us fulfill a lot of financial goals. There are several benefits when you implement and follow a budget plan but the thing is, you have to make sure that it is effective.

While your implementation and commitment to follow a budget is the key to its success and effectiveness, you need to understand what can ruin it. One of the things that has a great effect on your budgeting success is your spending.

An article published on Bloomberg.com revealed that Americans belive tht the economy is improving. This may be good news but it is also leading a lot of consumers to spend more than what they think is allowed by their unique financial position. The article mentioned how consumers are now more courageous when it comes to making purchases like new cars, electronic devices and other appliances. While the financial circumstances may be making it more possible to make the purchases, it does not signify that the economic situation in the household is ready to hold these commitments. In fact, there are a couple of expenses that may have escaped your noticed and are actually draining the effectiveness of your well constructed budget plan.

Here are 7 expenses that you should be careful with.

  1. Maintenance and repairs. This holds more true for vehicles but it also applies to your home. A busted transmission in your care may not be a huge expense but it could enough to throw your budget plan off balance. A string of car repairs can also force you to use your credit card and thus put you in debt. You have to ensure that your vehicle is well taken cared of and goes through a regular maintenance check to avoid expensive surprises. You need to think about these things and include them in your budget plan to avoid the effects of an expense you are not prepared for.
  2. Occasional events. A perfect example of this are weddings. They only happen once and even if you were just invited, it will still cost you to buy a dress or a gift for the event. Not to mention travelling to where the wedding will take place – if it is a destination wedding. Unless you can get the funds from one category in your budget, you may want to just decline going to the event – lest you end up in debt.
  3. Extracurricular activities for the family. This includes any sports related activities or training that your child would like to have during the summer. If your child is passionate about a certain sport that requires expensive training, how can you manage paying it all off. It pays to talk to your child so you can plan around these expenses and thus get yourself ready for it. You can include it in your budget plan – specifically in the part where your savings are.
  4. Pet expenses. While they are not as expensive are children, they can still rack up costs each month. You need to think about their food, veterinary care and everything that will help them live comfortably with you. Do not ignore their needs because a sudden trip to the vet may lead to a financial problem.
  5. Spikes in utility expenses. You may have created a flawless budget plan but have you considered how it needs to change over time? For instance, your budget for heating may not be the same in the summer and winter. Factor in these changes in your budget so you will not fall short anytime during the year.
  6. Health expenses. An unexpected medical expense, no matter how expensive are something that you need to prepare for. In fact, a lot of people have fallen into a financial crisis because of an unexpected illness. Do not let this happen to you or any of your family.
  7. Unplanned snacks. This is something that most of us are guilty of. This is a small expense – but that is what makes it very dangerous. Since it is a small expense, we rarely put it in our budget plan. And the amount is also the reason why we are not guarded when making these impulsive purchases. If you do it everyday, this small amount will add up. Make sure to know how much you are allowed to spend each day so you will be kept from overspending on your budget.

Make sure that you will not overlook these expenses. A budget plan may be able to help you  get out of debt, but its failure may also keep you from seeing that debt is creeping back into your life.

Here’s an interesting way of managing your money

You have to understand that budgeting is something that some consumers are not enthusiastic about – even if it will lead to their financial independence. That may be caused by its reputation for being a tedious task to do. This may be true – but mostly at the beginning. You have to make sure that the details of your budget are all correct. But even if the bulk of the job is at the beginning, you need to continually check on it as your life changes.

The truth is, budgeting is very important because it helps you practice money management. You may not like the traditional budget plan, there are ways for you to organize your finances.

An article from MoneyNing.com discussed three simple steps that you may want to follow. It is not as tedious but it will make sure that the important goals of a budget plan is covered.

  • Automatic transfers. First of all, you want to set up automatic transfer for regular payments that you make. This includes your rent or mortgage, saving goals, retirement, taxes, insurance, etc. Any payment that is consistent in amount and due date can be paid this way. This will allow you to get rid of the details and just concentrate on the total amount that your account has to have each month. You can include all your priority expenses here – even if they are estimated. Just make sure your estimations will always be more than the actual payments. That way, you will not be charged with late payment charges caused by insufficient funds.
  • Strict discretionary funds. The second step is to set up an amount that you can use each month. After defining the amount, you can enjoy spending it however you wish. With all the priority expenses taken cared of, you can enjoy this money as you see fit. Of course, when you spend it before the month ends, you have nothing left. That means a bit of control and monitoring is still in order.
  • Balance your accounts each month. This type of money management will not give you a tedious monitoring task but you still have to make sure you stuck to your budget. This is why you need to reconcile your account at the end of the month to make sure that your payments are met and you have sufficient funds to meet them.

This is one option that you can do in place of budgeting. What you will prefer to use will depend strictly on your personality of course. Both are effective but you may find that following a budget plan can help you develop the right financial habits and enjoy the benefits of having organized finances. Here is video that will enlighten you about the benefits of following a budget plan.

Why Spending Never Works Out The Way You Plan

frustrated looking womanThe lessons learned from the 2008 recession prompted most of us to seriously consider financial planning. One of the things that we kept a close eye on was our spending. In truth, those bad spending habits that we got used to became our financial undoing. We spent beyond our means by using credit cards recklessly and it cost us a lot of money. For some of us, it led to losing some of the assets that we hold dear. It meant letting our homes go into foreclosure, selling our cars and even skipping the usual entertainment expenses that made us really happy.

Thankfully, financial plans can help us curb the bad habits that led to our money’s demise. But be very careful. Even if you create the most promising plan there is, you need to be able to implement it. A lot of us started strong with our plans but unfortunately, not everyone was successful in applying it in their lives.

A plan is necessary to keep your finances under control and this article will try to analyze why your spending never worked out that way you planned it to.

Comparing your budget with your spending plan

In most cases, your spending plan is confused with a budget plan. Some articles actually refer to them as one and the same. But you need to know that they are two separate concepts. Budgeting is the first step towards financial independence and your spending plan will serve as your action plan to connect them.

Here are other concepts that will help you differentiate the two.

  • Spending plans will be more appealing to follow because it does not have the restricting image of a budget plan.

  • Budgets will tell you how much you are allowed to spend for a specific expense category. The spending plans will allow you to control that total amount to satisfy your actual needs.

  • Spending plans can help you detail your wants and needs. A budget plan is more concentrated on your expense categories.

  • Budget plans will help you define what is left for your discretionary income. Spending plans can map out where you discretionary income will go.

More importantly, your spending plan will help define the different patterns that you have in your life. You can see when your housing costs spike and when food prices go up. It can help make your future financial plans more accurate.

Reasons why your plan for monthly expenses is not working

Now that you know how to differentiate a budget from a spending plan, let us identify the possible reason why it can fail you.

It does not include everything. We’ve mentioned how this plan is actually more detailed than your budget. You have to make sure that it includes all the expenses that you usually make. This is how you ensure that it remains true to the restrictions of your budget. You do not want to end up spending more than what you are allowed to. Ideally, your purchase plans cover a period of one month. Make sure that you include your annual and seasonal expenses too.

It failed to indicate your priorities. Another reason why this plan can fail you is when you did not indicate your priorities. This is very important to keep your plan from concentrating too much on the mundane expenses that make you happy. The whole purpose of planning is to ensure that you will not miss out on all your expenses. Put the priorities high on the list and make sure you understand the factors affecting them. In fact, Moneyning.com published an article that indicates how every generation usually have different priorities. For instance, Baby Boomers lived after the second World War and it made them heavy spenders compared to other generations. Millennials witnessed how the 2008 recession crippled their parents and grandparents financially, that made them more cautious about credit – especially credit card spending.

It is not realistic. The third reason it is not working is because it is not realistic. You may want to spend a lot on entertainment expenses but when your needs dictate that more funds should be allotted for your debts, then you should reconsider your plan. Based on the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) last March 27, 2013, the average expenses of households depend on the income. The highest 20% allott 30.2% of their income in housing costs while the lowest 20% spend 40% of their income on the same category. In terms of food, the highest 20% spend 11.4% as compared to the lowest that spend 15.8% of their income on this expense. For personal insurance, the lowest 20% spend only 2.1% – which is very low compared to the 16% of the high income earners. Obviously, the low income earners have to forego insurance to pay for more important expenses. Your spending plan should consider all of these to make it realistic and true to your needs.

It is not flexible. Lastly, your plan may not be flexible and that is the reason why it is not working for you. Most spending plans require changes from time to time – just like your budget. As mentioned, your priorities are influenced by a lot of things and this should be something that you consider carefully. As you age, your needs will change and that should prompt you to constantly look at your spending plan to see if it is still workable.

Tips to create a working plan for purchases that compliment your budget

To be a smart spender begins with a well crafted spending plan. Here are some important considerations when you are trying to make this.

  • Base your spending on your net income – not our gross. Nobody ever sees their gross income. If you base it on this amount, you will always fall short and some of your expenses will end up being unpaid.

  • Always analyze your current spending. What you are spending a few months ago may not be the same as what you need right now. Always check if your spending plan is still aligned with your goals.

  • Categorize your expenses to keep the revisions from being tedious. You can put the fixed expenses first as these are the regular payments that you constantly have to make. In most cases, the amount does not change. These include your rent, loan payments, etc. You also have the flexible expenses that are still necessities but vary in amount every month. Your food, groceries and transportation can be placed here. Lastly, you have the discretionary expenses that are the expenses that you do not need to spend on all the time. These can be your clothing, shoes, and entertainment expenses. When you have to revise your plan, you only have to look at the flexible and discretionary expenses.

  • Make sure your income is higher than your expenses. If not, you will always have to spend some credit to take care of everything. That defeats the purpose of using this financial plan. Trade off some of the expenses that you can live without so you can afford those that you need to spend on.

StatisticBrain.com shows that the average household income is at $43,000. With the rising cost of living, this is just enough for a family of 4 to live on. If you want to make your spending less restrictive, you should consider earning more or cutting back. The bottom line is to make sure that you can control where your money goes and the plan that will help you achieve that is something that you can follow consistently. If it is not working for you, review the plan to see if it requires you to make some changes.

Here is a video created by National Debt Relief to help you learn how to budget for your household.

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