Line by Line: Why exactly can’t we stick to budget?

How often do you hear someone clamor on about just how easy it is to stick to a budget?

In the simplest form, the budget is nothing more than tracking what you spend versus what you make, plain and simple. Budgeting really is not made to be complicated but truthfully taking your expenses and making sure that number is less than what you make, whether that means cutting your cable cord, saying so long to your data plan or eliminating that shopping spree you’ve allowed yourself to enjoy on a regular basis at your favorite department store isn’t quite as simple as some make it.

Yes, you can just go ahead and start hacking away, and that can get you so far, but what if there isn’t enough money coming in as far as income goes? Can you really begin to even contemplate saving money if you’re not making enough to pay even the essentials? At that point, the budget process is tossed aside quickly and with extreme prejudice and you instead decide to scrimp and save where you can and simply wait to pay bills when you have the money, which leads to lower than average credit scores and a reputation that lenders don’t exactly love to see.

Another budget breakdown that you often can’t account for are expenses that you really don’t take into consideration. That two a day coffee habit, stopping for lunch every day and spending money on something as simple as a newspaper or candy bar can lead to thousands of dollars spent per year and even as much as hundreds per month. Ask yourself, how often do you eat out at restaurants, is it breakfast, lunch and dinner some days, and if so, do you realize that accounts for nearly $500 per month in added expense?

When a particular bill or expense, like a gym membership or cable, goes up due to rate hike or added services, do you pay attention to that? Do you adjust your budget? Chances are, you don’t.

Not sticking to a budget is nothing new, but it also isn’t beyond the realm of expectation to not have one at all simply because you haven’t the slightest idea where to start. Sure, a budget can be set up rather easily but staying the course and examining it beyond the norm or not taking into consideration a lack of income or literally all the purchases and expenses you have daily is going to translate into a lot of effort and very little results or outcome as it relates to being able to save money or plan financially for any sort of future.

Broken Down: Why not having money doesn’t lead to better decisions

So let’s face it, you’re broke. You don’t have any spending money and you’re barely able to pay your bills.

Call it “staying above water” or “just making it,” but no matter how you slice it money is at a premium. You promise yourself that you’re tired of playing it so tight as far as income versus expenses, and you’re going to draw up a budget or start making cuts where you can.

But that plan doesn’t always get carried out, nor for some of us is it even put out on the table.

And that is part of the problem in general as it relates to spending and saving, even for those who don’t have any extra cash to speak of.

One of the bigger problems, if you don’t have money, is your unwillingness to have a realistic budget. Let’s say you had a pay cut, lost a job or just don’t have the kind of income that warrants your expenses.

You still might find yourself having the highest and most expenses (and best) cable package money can buy, or not skimping all of a sudden on buying clothes, upgrading your wardrobe or those weekly massages that are wonderful but costing you hundreds you don’t have.

Even the $50 per month gym membership is up for debate, and truthfully really nothings off the table at this point in your budgeting game.

What else do those without money tend to do that is a head scratcher?

How about adding more debt to your already amassing amounts of cash that you owe or not limiting yourself as far as what you spend? The latter is pretty simple: you might have to go a few summers without a vacation or learn to embrace the “stay-cation”. Some that struggle with money are struggling to the point that they still don’t believe they have an issue, and are still charging up and maxing out credit cards with no end in sight.

You can’t assume any more debt at the point where you don’t have any money saved. Adding new debt is never advisable, particularly if you are just making it. Granted, you may have to in a dire situation use a credit card but only after you look at your budget and cut it accordingly. If you’re still enjoying 5 movie channels on cable that you pay extra for or a full blown data plan, and you’re using a credit card for groceries or to pay your car payment, something is way off.

Not having money feels like the end of the world, but you can take steps to fix it, most importantly the one that has you reassess your spending habits but mostly realize you don’t have the money to spend anyway.