Americans Are Breaking the Budget

a broken piggy bank with a bandaid on one of the broken pieces Too many people are breaking their piggy banks, so they can spend more than they’ve budgeted for.  Unfortunately, it could lead to problems that nobody wants to deal with.  Take a look at the most common areas of overspending and consider some of the ways you can keep your budget intact.

A recent report from the Principal Financial Group found that 71% of employees went over their budget in at least one of the listed areas.

a pie chart showing how much people go over budget in each category of their budget (travel - 13%, gas - 19%, food/groceries - 20%, dining out - 20%, clothing/apparel/shoes - 14%, entertainment - 14%)

Think about your own budget (or lack thereof).  Are you one of the 20% of employees who went over their budget for dining out?  Or the 14% that spent too much on entertainment?  Like many Americans, you can probably pinpoint a few areas where you like to overindulge. So why is it a big deal?  When you spend more on shoes or movies or fancy dinners than you’ve allotted for, you could end up dealing with consequences like…

  • Debt
  • Lack of retirement savings
  • Difficulty paying utilities and other necessary bills
  • Increasing financial stress and consequential health problems

Instead of breaking the budget, break the cycle before it overtakes you.  Here’s how:

  • Start by tracking your expenses.  In order to stop the habit of overspending, you need to know exactly where and how much you spend.
  • Once you have a list of your expenses, from bills to discretionary items, figure out which ones are absolutely necessary.  For example, food is a necessity, but eating at expensive lunch places every day… not so much.
  • Pinpoint which categories are the culprits for overspending and make a game plan to balance expenses.  For example, instead of spending a hundred dollars a week on eating out during your lunch break, consider bringing your own lunch or finding a less expensive place to eat.  Tip: websites like Zomato (previously Urbanspoon) and Yelp can give you a list of nearby restaurants that serve delicious food for low prices.

It’s also easy to overspend when you have unexpected costs.  A way to combat this surprise attack is to set aside savings specifically for surprise expenses, like a housewarming gift or broken cell phone.  When you look at the big picture, it’s about fine-tuning the budget to include ALL income and expenses – even the ones that haven’t happened yet. Talk with a personal Money Coach who can help you figure out a budget that works for you and your lifestyle.  Your Money Coach can give you worksheets that help you track and categorize your expenses, so you have a better idea of how you’re using your money and how you can improve.  Get started today by calling 888-724-2326.