What Are the 4 Reasons People Don’t Want to Use a Budget?

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The best way to get a handle on your finances is with a budget. But even though most people know that, many don’t, and even among those that do, not everyone sticks with it. So, what are the 4 reasons people don’t want to use a budget?

Here are the top 4 reasons people may avoid budgeting:

  1. Fear – There is comfort in hiding our heads in the sand. Many fear knowing the bottom-line truth of how broke they really are or how out of control their spending is. So they (foolishly) believe ignorance is bliss.
  2. They don’t want to cut back on their lifestyle – Many people go deep in debt trying to live beyond their means or keep up with the Joneses. They know that a budget will force them to face the reality of their income vs. their spending.
  3. They fear it will start an argument with their spouse – This is especially true if your spouse is a big spender or if they like to control the finances.
  4. They fear how much time it will take and how long it will take to track expenses. Let’s be honest. Budgeting isn’t hard. And once you get in the habit, it can go quickly. But it does take time to get used to at first.

But that’s not all there is to know about why people don’t want to use a budget. So in this article, we’ll dive deep into those 4 reasons and some great solutions for each one of them.

Just keep reading!

What are the cons of having a budget?

The cons of having a budget include the fact that budgeting is hard work. It can be tedious and annoying to keep track of everything you spend. And coming across unplanned expenses made by your spouse can create friction in relationships.

Budgeting takes discipline and dedication. Seeing any results from your hard work can take a long time, too.

Creating a budget can be very time-consuming, especially if you are not very organized in the first place. It will take at least a month of consistent tracking to see a real picture of your current situation. As that first month goes on, you’ll have to reevaluate and readjust several times.

You could also feel like you simply don’t need a budget. 

This can be especially true if you have a high income. But even if you have a high income, you should set aside money every month for an emergency fund. You should also plan for retirement and college expenses.

To learn more about whether a budget is necessary if you have a high income, check out this recent article. My income is now well into the 6-figures, and I still do a monthly budget. But I do plan to stop when I hit a certain milestone.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Generally, while it is a good idea to have a budget at any income level, you can be a little freer with the rules. The most important rule that you should stick to is to be in communication with your partner about large purchases.

What are the reasons budgets sometimes do not work?

The biggest reason budgets may not work for households is not accounting for every expense including irregular expenses, not creating categories for personal spending, not having agreements with a spouse on large purchases, and not sticking to it.

Budgeting is hard work. It takes dedication and patience.

We live in a society where instant gratification rules everything. We can order anything we want online, and it will be here in a couple of days. When a new movie comes out, we don’t have to wait months to rent it.

We can just pay extra to watch it at home the same day it’s released.

There is no instant gratification when it comes to budgeting. So, people will often give up before they see any real results. Another reason could be that your expenses are higher than your income. This means you are spending more than you make. Reevaluate your spending and figure out where you can cut more expenses.

It could also be that you don’t have enough budgeted for some expenses. Gas prices fluctuate a lot, which could mean that you underestimated how much to budget. Give yourself more money to spend on gas. This could mean that you need to cut other expenses.

Finally, a reason that budgets sometimes don’t work is that you didn’t budget anything for fun.

Living on a budget doesn’t mean all fun goes out the window. Budgeting for things like hobbies or entertainment can make it easier to stick to a budget because you know you’ll have the money to spend without feeling guilty.

What can you do if your budget is not working?

If a budget isn’t working, identify the reasons, communicate with your spouse, and keep re-working it. Have a plan for irregular expenses and save well in advance for vacations and holiday spending. On average, it takes about 2 months for a couple to get a budget dialed in.

Budgets need to be reevaluated and adjusted. Especially at the beginning as you learn more about your spending habits and your actual income.

If your income or expenses change, make sure your budget reflects those changes.

Budgeting is not one-size-fits-all and can be really hard if your income varies from month to month. So, make sure that you are also putting away money for those slim months. This will allow you to always have money to go towards your expenses.

Your budget may not be working because of a lack of self-control, too. 

Are you tracking everything you are spending? Or are you buying coffee on your way to work and not tracking it? If you are going on shopping sprees or treating yourself daily, you’re going to have a harder time sticking to a budget.

Make sure that you are not treating yourself every day. Don’t buy things you don’t need or use. When you go shopping, make sure you are doing it with a mission in mind. Stick to your list and your budget when grocery shopping.

Oftentimes, budgets don’t work simply because of our behaviors. What can you change to make sure your budget is working for you?

I mentioned holiday spending above. Do you know that the average American family spends between $1,000-$2,000 every holiday season? And guess what?

Most of them haven’t saved a dime all year and put it all on credit cards! Then they spend most of the next year paying it off, plus interest.

But there’s a better way to handle holiday spending! My family and I start saving for Christmas in January. We plan to spend $2,000 (presents, food, and travel). And we know we’ll start to spend that in mid to late November.

How do we do it without going into debt? And how do we save up that much without blowing our budget? Check out a recent article to see all the steps in detail.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What are the most common budgeting problems and solutions?

Top Budgeting Problem Solution to Those Problems
Inconsistent Income If the amount or frequency of getting paid varies, take a monthly average based on the annual net and divide that by 12. In months that exceed that, set the excess aside into savings and transfer back for low months
Irregular expenses For quarterly or annual expenses, divide the total by the number of months before the bill is due and transfer that amount into savings for each month before the due date. Transfer back when it’s time to pay
Poor math skills Use an app, Excel spreadsheet, or plain paper and a calculator
Spouse not on board You have a marriage problem, not a money problem. Fix the marriage issue (are you too controlling? do they not understand or agree with the goal?) and they will get on board
Expenses exceed income If you can’t cut expenses any further, have a short-term (side hustle job) and long-term plan (more education or changing jobs) to boost the household income

Want the best budgeting tool out there? Download my FREE Excel household budget template now!

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Once you get it, you can dive deep into how to use it and why it works in another post about why this is the Best Excel Household Budget Template.

With a budget, you’ll know how much money you have and how much money is going out.

Make decisions together about how to spend what you have. You have to be on the same page when it comes to spending. If you are indecisive about spending, the entire budget will fall apart.

Being indecisive about finances, especially as a couple, can prevent you from meeting your financial goals. Once you start making a budget though, everything should fall into place.

Impulsive spending is another problem. Impulsive shopping is a common problem, and it can be hard to stop doing. It’s really easy to spend money without actually thinking about it. This can be solved by limiting shopping trips and online shopping.

Whenever you have the urge to spend money, pause to think about your bigger goals.

Write down how you’re feeling and why you want to spend money at the moment. By pausing and thinking about the big picture, you’ll be more aware of your impulse buying. You’ll also be able to get it more under control.

Finally, lack of vision can be a problem. Always keep your eye on the prize. Remember why you needed a budget in the first place.

I mentioned irregular expenses above.

Budget all of your expenses, including those that happen quarterly, annually, or even more irregularly than that. To read more about how and why you should add occasional expenses to your budget, read this recent article.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Does it take discipline to stick to a budget?

It takes discipline to start and initially stick to a budget. However, after 2 months, most people find that it has become a habit and second nature and no longer requires the same level of discipline it did to start with.

Any kind of change is hard. It’s especially hard if it comes with drastic changes.

If you are trying to pay off debt, your budget may be a little tighter than if you were debt-free. This means you’ll have to cut out those daily coffees on your way to work.

But you’ll just have to replace that drive-thru coffee with one from home. This can be really hard at first, especially if it’s gotten to be a habit. Habits are very powerful and hard to break.

Evaluating your spending and tracking your expenses take a lot of time. If you’re new to it, you may be resistant or simply forget to do it.

Self-discipline while budgeting is vital for success.

Remember your goals and think about your priorities. Is that coffee a priority, or is it getting in the way of your financial goals? You would be surprised at how even straying slightly can get in the way of your goals.

Don’t let your whims control you.

You must have the self-discipline to spend your money wisely. Pay more than the minimum on your bills when you have extra money. Resist the urge to purchase that latest gadget. Instead, put it on a wish list to purchase for your birthday or Christmas.

If you are debt-free and have a little extra money to play with, budget in some “splurge” money. This will help you stick to your budget because you know that everything else has been paid.

But when that splurge money is gone, you don’t get more until the next month.

How do you actually stick to a budget?

The best way to stick to a budget is to start with a dream, such as being debt-free, having a nicer home, or being able to take dream vacations every year. Once the dream is clear, then tap into the emotions you’ll feel once that dream is realized. At that point, the discipline to reach those dreams gets much easier.

The hardest part about budgeting is actually creating the budget itself. It takes discipline and attention to detail to start budgeting. You have to track for at least a month to get a good grasp on your expenses.

Actually, sticking to that budget can be tricky. 

First, wait on those big purchases, especially if it’s not something you need. Will that TV mess with your budget? Will it throw off your savings? Will it add value to your life and not stress out your budget?

Wait a week before you make that big purchase. By thinking about it before you make big unnecessary purchases, you might realize that it’s more of a hassle than it’s worth.

Next, make sure that you never spend more money than you have. Save regularly, so it doesn’t throw off your budget. Include a daily or weekly allowance in your budget for splurge items, so you never feel like you are being deprived of anything.

Do your grocery shopping online.

Yes, they charge a fee. But by using services like grocery pickup, you aren’t wandering around the store aimlessly. You will eliminate spur-of-the-moment purchases, and you can see exactly how much you are spending before you get to the checkout line.

It can be exceptionally challenging to budget on a low income.

To read more about how to budget money on a low income, read this recent article. Budgeting on a low income starts with prioritizing expenses, cutting unnecessary expenses, and maybe even pausing on putting money towards your retirement fund. But there’s only 1 way to make it work on a low income.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How many American households maintain and follow a budget?

80% of Americans have some sort of household budget, with 60% doing it on paper or a spreadsheet and 9% using an app. However, only 35% of them stick with their budgets consistently.

(source) and (source)

In short, the majority of Americans have a budget, but most don’t do it consistently enough to really see the full benefits.

Of those that do, they do it for a variety of reasons too. They may simply want to increase their wealth. Others do it to get out of debt or to save for retirement.

They include all of their expenses into their budget as well. They set aside money for special events, holidays, and even small purchases. Creating a budget can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to start. Budgeting helps plan for long-term and short-term goals.

It allows individuals and couples to see where every dollar is going.

It also ensures that expenses are lower than income. It allows individuals and couples to determine in advance where their money is going rather than finding out after it has already been spent.

There are 7 steps to creating a budget and meeting your financial goals.

The first step is to figure out the combined household income and all of the monthly expenses. To read more about the steps that go into creating a budget, check out this recent article.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How should a married couple's budget be decided?

Did I answer everything you wanted to know about why people don’t want to use a budget?

Let’s face it – budgeting is boring. It’s tedious and time-consuming.

People don’t want to do it not only because it takes time but because it shines a light on bad spending habits, too. Budgeting can feel restraining. Budgeting in fun expenses can make it feel less so. Budgeting of some sort should be done on every income level.

Can you stick to a budget?


While I have years of successful financial & budgeting experience and run several million-dollar businesses and handled the accounting, P&L and been responsible for the financial assets of them, I am not an accountant or CPA. Like all my posts, my posts are opinions based on experience, observations, research, and mistakes. While I believe all my personal finance posts to be thorough, accurate, and well-researched, if you need financial advice, you should seek out a qualified professional in your area.
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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