Top 10 Budget Busters

Even the most diligent budgeters can get off track, especially when faced with these notorious budget busters.

The best way to stay on target is to be aware of where your spending may go wrong and do your best to avoid it.

1. Impulse purchases

It’s all too easy to grab a few extra items at the checkout or to buy expensive junk food when you go grocery shopping hungry. You can’t escape the temptation for impulse purchases online either with targeted ads, online stores that save your credit card information and email blasts announcing limited-time savings. Make a budget and a shopping list and do your best to avoid unplanned-for purchases.

2. Small extras

Most people don’t plan to buy a magazine here or a pack of gum there, and we’ve all heard about the dangers of a latte habit. The problem with “extras” is that they trick you into thinking you’re not overspending since they’re inexpensive purchases. In the long run, these purchases can add up, so don’t give in to the siren song of the clearance nail polish.

3. Television and movies

Cable television is a pricey indulgence these days, and many consumers purchase streaming subscriptions on top of cable. Renting a movie via an on-demand service is often expensive, not to mention paying to go to the theater. Unless you’re a true television and movie aficionado, you can probably find somewhere to trim the fat.

4. Fees and fines

These budget busters run the gamut from small (ATM fees) to large (parking tickets), but they’re all unnecessary. The worst part about these expenses is that you don’t even get to enjoy spending the money. Watch out for credit card interest and fees, overdraft charges and other places that can leak money if you’re not careful.

5. Restaurants and fast food

It’s always cheaper to make your own food at home because restaurants and fast food places charge for convenience. It’s okay to treat yourself once in a while—make an “eating out” budget so you don’t overspend—but going out to eat regularly is one of the surest ways to blow your budget.

6. Aspirational spending

It’s normal to want to look and feel your best, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your budget. Don’t buy a gym membership that you never use or clothes that are too small or trendy. And if you decide to take up a new hobby, try it out for a while before splurging on supplies.

7. Emergencies

Medical emergencies, car repairs, and other surprise expenses can eat away at your savings if you don’t plan ahead. Emergencies shouldn’t really be considered surprise expenses—you know you’ll eventually have to pay for some kind of emergency; you just don’t know when or what. Buy insurance, build up an emergency fund, and practice preventative maintenance on yourself, your home and your car.

8. Gifts and donations

If you always donate to your friend’s cancer walk or buy your mom a gift for her birthday, these expenses shouldn’t be surprises. Save up for special occasions and charitable donations so they’re no longer an unpleasant yearly surprise.

9. Retail therapy

If you feel like splurging because “I deserve this!” then back away from the credit card. You may feel like you need a manicure, a vacation or a shopping spree after a hard day at work, but you don’t deserve to ruin your budget.

10. Irregular bills

A lot of bills—tuition, home maintenance, etc.—don’t come every month, but you still need to budget for them. If it helps, set up a separate checking account for these bills and pay into it monthly so you have enough when the bills come due.


Representatives offer products and services using the following business names: Summit Group of Virginia LLP – insurance and financial services | Ameritas Investment Company, LLC (AIC), Member FINRA/SIPC – securities and investments | Ameritas Advisory Services (AAS) – investment advisory services. AIC and AAS are not affiliated with Summit Group of Virginia LLP. Products and services are limited to residents of states where the representative is registered. This is not an offer of securities in any jurisdiction, nor is it specifically directed to a resident of any jurisdiction. As with any security, request a prospectus from your representative. Read it carefully before you invest or send money. A representative will contact you to provide requested information. Representatives of AIC and AAS do not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax advisor or attorney regarding your situation.

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