Hey, we all make mistakes (especially when it comes to money). The important thing is that we learn from them and move forward a little wiser. We’ve pulled together some of the most common mistakes people make on budgeting so you can (hopefully) learn from someone else’s errors.

Being Too Strict

Have you cut all fun out of your current budget? That’ll be tough to stick with. Think about how you’ll feel after a week of no fun. A month. A year. Being too strict makes for a sad life for most people.

Not Being Strict Enough

Not interested in setting limits on your spending? We don’t think Goldilocks would choose your budget either. This is the most obvious problem people run into.

Letting Lifestyle Inflation Take Over

If you keep letting your spending creep up over time, you’re not in much of a better place money-wise when you’re earning more than you did at your minimum wage job. One of the best tips people choose is to put any pay raises in the bank instead of signing a new car lease or moving to a bigger place.

Aimless Budgeting

Telling yourself to shove money into a single general savings account isn’t very motivating over the long haul. Try setting up a vacation fund in addition to your emergency fund.

No Wiggle Room

You won’t know every exact expense (utility bills often vary, for example). Expect to build in a cushion. Being wrong can lead to a domino effect of overdraft fees and more.

Only Planning Monthly Expenses

Some expenses are quarterly (taxes for contract workers), some are biannual (car insurance for many), some are annual (yearly software renewals), and some are once-in-a-lifetime (weddings…hopefully).


Ask someone how much their electric bill was last August. Many people won’t know the answer unless they check. Quit guessing or run the risk of wrecking your budget suddenly mid-month.

A Sabotaging Partner

Okay, sabotage is a strong word here. But seriously, if you’re not talking openly about your budget regularly, it’s tough for them to know how to spend. They’re likely going to continue their spending habits until you agree on goals, and that can lead to fights if you’ve been spending less yourself.

Wants Not Needs

After we’ve gotten used to certain luxuries, it’s a little too easy to see them as a need rather than a want. Get serious about identifying the difference.

Budgeting by Paycheck Only

It kind of sucks to have to live frugally for the half of the month right before your rent or mortgage is due. Try to budget monthly instead of from paycheck to paycheck.