14 Reasons Your Household Budget is Failing {and How to Make Your Money Work for You}

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I can’t be the only one whose household budget takes a nosedive sometimes, can I? I didn’t think so, but you never can know, so I figured I would ask. If you’re over here in the “my budget fails sometimes” crowd with me, don’t stress it too much. I am one-hundred percent positive that we are not alone. In fact, budget failures are quite common. If you’re in the not so special club, the only thing you can really do is take the time to learn why your household budget is failing and how to make your money work for you so it doesn’t keep happening. When it is a repeat cycle, you can really put your family into a financial crisis that can be almost impossible to get out of.

Tired of your household budget failing? These 14 reasons why your budget fails will teach you why it keeps happening and show you how to make your money work for you. A must-read for every family on a budget!

I mentioned that having a household budget failure can become a cycle that repeats over and over again. Those financial holes that you may be finding yourself falling into time and time again are honestly dangerous to more than just your bank account. It can add undue stress which we all know can cause health issues, it can cause you to gain weight if you’re not able to eat well and more. Instead of letting the cycle repeat, it’s best to learn how to make your money work for you and to learn how to prepare for a financial crisis.

14 Reasons Your Household Budget is Failing {and How to Make Your Money Work for You}

The first step to learning how to make your money work for you is to know why your household budget fails in the first place. There are a lot of reasons, but the ones below are some of the most common. Once you have identified where your issues lie, you can work to fix them. A lot of the time, simply fixing one or two is enough to set your household budget upright so that you can begin to make your money work for you in a way it never has before.

Not having a household budget at all or not having an updated budget – 

Having a household budget is the first step in learning how to make your money work for you. If you don’t have one, it doesn’t take much time at all to learn how to create a budget that is simple and easy to follow. After all, you can’t tell where your money is going or where it is supposed to go without one. For some families, living by a budget won’t need to be a life long thing. Once they get into the habit, they are able to go off-paper so to speak and still manage their money. They are few and far between however and if you’re currently in financial trouble, you’re not one of them. Making that mistake can be extremely detrimental so please don’t attempt to if you’re not able to.

If you already have a working household budget, but you’re finding that you’re still having troubles, when did you last take the time to update your budget? If your budget has not been updated in the past 90 days, do so now. Chances are good that you’ll find money being siphoned away with things you no longer need or want to be paying for or that you’ll discover you’re missing payments that you shouldn’t be.

While you’re at it, make sure you take the time to learn how to prepare your family for a financial crisis. Unfortunately, they do happen no matter how much you prepare so learning how to handle it really is one of the first steps to learning how to make your money work for you. After you learn how to prepare, take the time to learn how to create a crisis budget so you’re ready when you need it.

Not making enough money is hurting your household budget- 

This one should be a given for anyone having budget troubles, but unfortunately, it is one that can easily be missed. One of the most common reasons for a household budget failure is that you simply don’t bring enough money in. It’s a sad fact of life, but it really is super common. If when you’re updating or creating your budget, you have more expenses than you do income, this is very likely your problem.

At that point, the only thing you can do is to work to make more money. This could mean taking a second job, becoming a two income family is you’re a stay at home mom, starting your own business like THESE work at home business ideas, doing legit surveys to earn free gift cards or earn free cash online with companies like THESE, or even using something like THESE 19 strange ways to earn extra cash. If none of that appeals to you, you could also sell things you no longer need to make the extra funds you need.

Side Note: Want to make money as a blogger from home? Take a look at how to start a money making blog right HERE then join us HERE for my FREE 7-day email course on how to start a money making blog! 

Not shopping for deals is hurting your household budget – 

Are you a deal shopper or do you simply pay whatever the store is asking you to? Most people, believe it or not, do not ever consider trying to get a deal more than a few times a year. If you’re constantly paying retail for everything you buy, you’re constantly wasting money.Instead, do what you can to get a lower price when you buy things so you can bank the extra money between what you paid and what the retail cost was.

For shopping online, signing up for an Ebates account is helpful. When you shop through Ebates, they receive a small commission based off of your total order amount. They then turn around and pay you a small portion of that commission back as cash back. It may only be small amounts, but believe me when I say it adds up quickly; especially during back to school shopping or the holidays. Plus, when you sign up for Ebates using THIS link, you’ll score $10.00 FREE when you make your first qualified $25.00 purchase.

For groceries, start by learning new ways to save money on food that you hadn’t considered before. Then, signing up for Amazon’s Prime Pantry can also help you save since they often have really nice prices on a lot of the things we all buy. (Get a FREE 30-Day Trial to Amazon Prime HERE). For in store grocery purchases, make sure you sign up for Ibotta HERE and that you sign up for Checkout 51 HERE. Both work pretty much the same and can both be used together. You buy an item they have a cash rebate for, scan your receipt and earn cash back on your purchase. They even have cash back rebates on produce and milk a lot of the time!

Lastly, take advantage of any freebies or deals that you may come across. For instance, I filled up my gas tank the other day for $0.50 cheaper per gallon than everyone else. How? Kroger offers double fuel points during the summer so I made sure to buy whatever I could from them last month in order to get those fuel points. I shopped the sales, got the fuel points and still had an overall savings of 34% on groceries without using a single paper coupon. Another instance is a freebie when you buy something. One of my favorite places to get natural cleaning and beauty supplies is Grove Collaborative. Their prices are cheap, but for new customers they are even better since when you sign up for Grove using THIS link and are a new customer, they’ll give you a FREE 5-piece Mrs. Meyers cleaning supply set when you spend $20.00. Free is free so if you already need what they sell, you’re better off grabbing the freebie while you can.

Forgotten Subscriptions are hurting your household budget – 

This is one that I will admit to being really bad at. I love certain things such as my Splendies subscription, my Birchbox subscription and my Julep subscription. They are little luxuries that I do for myself when I can afford it. When I can’t though, they are the first thing to go on hold – that is if I remember. Having forgotten subscriptions can be extremely bad for your budget if you’re already in a tight spot.  Your subscription may seem like a small amount, but if you’ve forgotten that it would be charging, you could end up with hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees before it’s over. Not only that, but forgotten subscriptions are usually the ones that are services or items you no longer want or need.

To make certain that you’re not paying for a subscription that you don’t need to be, go through the past 60 days of bank statements. Make certain that every charge you’re paying for each month is one that should be there. If not, cancel it right away so you don’t forget.

Forgotten free trials are hurting your household budget – 

Another thing that often gets forgotten, but can do serious damage to your household budget is free trials. Don’t get me wrong, I love trying new products and getting to do so free is amazing, but if you don’t want to keep the service, make certain that you’re only paying for the trials you actually want to continue. The process is the same as with any monthly service, go through your bank statements for the past 60 days and cancel any free trials you no longer want to keep. Once you’ve done that and you’ve turned off those forgotten free trials, you can begin to make your money work for you a bit better.

Excessive waste at home is hurting your household budget – 

We have really made it a point to go no-waste here at my house for a reason. It isn’t that we want to help the planet, although living a no-waste lifestyle is eco-friendly. For us, it is one reason alone; wasted food and other items equals wasted money. Simply put, living no-waste is cheaper.

If your family is wasting a lot, you’re spending more to replace those items when you need to buy more or to replace an item. Some of the most commonly wasted things at home – such as food, toilet paper, laundry detergent and even things like electricity – are some of the most expensive.  Take a look around your home and find the areas where you have the most excessive waste happening. Once you’ve identified them, put a plan in place to cut the waste one task at a time. It won’t happen overnight, but eventually, you’ll get a handle on the waste and the money it is costing you and can begin to make your money work for you.

Impulse Purchases are hurting your household budget – 

Have you ever purchased something in the store that you may not have needed simply because you saw it and wanted it or it was “on sale?” Be honest here because we have all done it. Those purchases are called impulse purchases and they are keeping you from having your money work for you and damaging your household budget at the same time.

I fully understand it; sometimes you just want what you want when you want it. Unfortunately, without planning, you’re only going to put yourself in a tight spot financially. Instead of making the purchase a an impulse buy, open a savings account just for the item you want and save up for it. By doing so, you’ll put yourself in a much better position finally and you’ll still get what you want.

I do want to be clear about impulse buys though; you actually need them in your budget in order to help keep yourself on budget. However, knowing when to purchase an impulse buy and when not to and actually taking the time to plan for those buys are the key to keeping your finances safe and sound.

Side Note: Need a little motivation to help you save? Grab our FREE Printable savings tracker HERE! It’s over 10 pages and has trackers for everything you might need!

Excessive fees are hurting your household budget – 

As awesome as it would be for things to be totally fee free, the sad truth is that we live in a fee based world. There are fees for opening certain types of accounts, fees for paying a certain way, fees for carrying balances, fees for banking and of course, the dreaded late fee. Over time, these fees add up to a significant cost and that can easily overwhelm your budget if you allow it to.

The key to keeping your budget in check is to minimize the number of fees you’re paying so that you can make your money work for you. If your credit card charges a fee for carrying a balance, pay it off each month or as quickly as possible if you have a large balance. If a loan charges a fee each month (and all do – it’s called interest), pay it off as quickly as possible. If you’re trying to build your credit with those loans or cards, use a free credit monitoring service such as Credit Sesame to do so instead of paying for one. If your bank charges a fee for your accounts, either open a fee free bank account or find out how your will waive your fees. For instance, I personally have both my personal and my business accounts with Regions Bank. For all of my accounts, I can waive the fee by having a direct deposit of $500 sent to the account each month.  It may only be $12 a month for fees, but that is $144 a year in banking fees alone!

Another big culprit for fees is your utility bills. Not only will utility companies charge you late fees if you don’t pay on time, but some will charge you for paying with a credit or debit card online or over the phone. Instead, pay by check if you’re able to and money order if you’re not. Even if you have to pay by a money order, you will still pay less for postage and the money order than you would to pay online.

Not accounting for variable expenses is hurting your household budget –  

Most people never take the time to stop and think about whether expenses in their budget are fixed expenses or variable expenses, but not doing so can cost you money in the long run. A variable expense is one that changes or can change from month to month. These can be everything from utility bills to your gasoline costs. A fixed expense is one that stays the same month after month such as your rent or mortgage or a loan payment.

The reason not knowing which of your expenses are variable can be dangerous to your household budget is simply because of the habit we all have of letting our budgets get outdated. If you plan for one amount one month but it changes the next to a larger amount, you won’t be prepared to pay the larger amount. Instead of the payment going through as planned, a larger amount could cause you to overdraft or to not be able to pay another expense.

To keep your budget under control, try to make all of your expenses fixed. If that isn’t possible, be sure to update your budget each month to account for any changes in variable fees. Once you’ve got those fees accounted for, you are one step closer to helping make your money work for you.

Quality vs. Quantity is hurting your household budget – 

When you go shopping, do you often find yourself buying the cheapest item on the shelf? If so, you may not realize that you’re actually hurting your household budget instead of helping it. When you buy cheaply made products, chances are you’re going to have to replace it long before you get your monies worth. Replace something enough times and you could have saved money by just buying the more expensive item instead.

My Dad was really bad at this one no matter how great he was at saving money elsewhere. When I was growing up, all of my shoes came from a very low end department store we had in my hometown. He never spent more than $10.00 a pair for them and as a result, I needed new shoes pretty much every month. If he had instead, bought a more expensive and better made pair, that $50 or $60 he spent would have likely lasted me all year.

To put this mildly, cheaply made items will often do more harm than good and they will definitely keep you from figuring out how to make your money work for you. I’m not, however, saying all cheap items are bad. In fact, I have several cheap items that have paid for themselves many times over. It really is up to you to decide whether to go cheap or pay more, but make sure you take the time to consider which item will cost you more in the long run.

Also, keep in mind that well made doesn’t always equal expensive. My girls and I all wear designer clothes that I get second hand from ThredUp and Schoola. They’re like new – and sometimes new with tags – for a fraction of the cost. If you’re new to ThredUp, you can use THIS link to score a FREE $10.00 credit for ThredUp and THIS link to score a FREE $10.00 credit for Schoola. 

Bad Habits are hurting your household budget – 

Yet another one that I struggle with myself, bad habits are a fantastic way of doing real and long term damage to your budget because they can quickly get out of control. If you have one or five bad habits, reigning them in and getting the spending under control is really the only way to make your money work for you instead of it working for your habits. This can include everything from smoking to online games and everything in between.

It doesn’t mean you have to quit your bad habits entirely unless they truly are bad for you and your family. If eating out is your bad habit, finding ways to save money on eating out and cutting back on the number of times you’re in a restaurant can be a great way to help. If your habit is smoking, putting black pepper essential oil can be a cheap and effective way to help you cut back or quit all together. If you have a spending problem, send any extra money to a money market account that isn’t at your regular bank so it takes you longer to get to the money and spend it.

If, however, you have a real issue such as a gambling addiction, drugs or drinking problem, get help. You very likely won’t be able to get it under control by yourself and your budget – not to mention your family – need you to. If you can’t afford a counselor in person, Talkspace provides affordable counseling by text message. You can check it out HERE if you’re interested. I’m not ashamed to admit that I used it myself after my Mom passed away and can vouch that it is a great service.

Using plastic too often is hurting your household budget – 

Do you use a cash only budget or do you swipe your cards every time you buy something? If you answered that you’re a chronic card swiper, you’re costing yourself money that you wouldn’t be spending if you used cash more often,. When we have cash in hand, we tend to think more about what we’re spending when we spend it. This can me that we cut back on impulse buys and unnecessary spending automatically without too much of a fight.

Instead of relying on plastic all the time, buy plastic cash envelopes and use them to allocate your cash so its easier to keep track of. Using the cash envelope budget is a great way to keep track of things and to help make your money work for your household budget in a better way than swiping a card all the time.

Not being on the same page as your partner is hurting your household budget – 

One of the biggest ways for a family or couple to harm their household budget is by having two people who are on vastly different pages about how money should be spent or saved. Not only does it lead to a potentially explosive situation financially, but it can also cause undue stress on your relationship.

If you and your partner are having a hard time getting together on money, try to sit down weekly and hold a budget meeting together. A lot of the time, the differences in thought processes is simply because one partner is uninformed of what your current financial situation is. If you eliminate that, you stand a far better chance of being on the same page and getting things on track quicker.

Having too much clutter is hurting your household budget – 

Believe it or not, if your home, office, or inbox is cluttered, you’re spending more. It is far too easy to miss that you already own something only to waste money re-buying it, to miss a bill and have to pay a late fee or to find something destroyed that you now need to replace when you’re dealing with clutter. Instead of just ignoring the clutter, find a few home organization tips and a few budget friendly organization supplies and get things under control. You’ll be glad you did and so will your budget.

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Stacy Ott

Stacy Ott is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family as well as The Genealogy Queen and a few others.By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence, and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

I earned over $100,000 blogging last year! Click here to learn how to start a blog and make money blogging!
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