While reviewing your finances, you may struggle to find reasons why your budget isn’t working. Everyone loves saving money, but the way you cut back can make a big difference. In fact, certain budget habits can actually cost you dearly.
Even the best saving intentions can lead to financial flubs, it’s all about executing them correctly. Here are a few ways you could sabotage your own budget.
1. Leaving No Wiggle Room
While it is likely you can stand to spend less each month, you don’t want to force yourself to stick to a budget that leaves no breathing room for special occasions, entertainment or indulgences. It’s important to make plans based on your real life and to create a budget you can stick to. A too-tight budget will often backfire as your desire to spend will catch up with your desire to save and leave you splurging.
2. Buying for the Sale
When it comes to necessities, buying items in bulk or on sale can be a great way to save — but if you get into the habit of buying things you don’t really need because of the sale, that great deal is actually costing you money, especially if you’re doing it to earn credit card rewards. Remember that frugality is about value, not consumption. You have to buy in regards to what you use.
3. Paying for Coupons
Savings websites can be great when you are looking for a deal, but you may end up getting less than expected. Between Groupon, LivingSocial and Coupon Clippers, you can spend hundreds on deals you don’t need and might not even use before they expire. Try to avoid getting coupons or deals for products and services you aren’t sure you will use and read the guidelines carefully for the ones you will.
4. Using Store Cards
Almost every major retailer has their own store credit card that allows you to save on a purchase the day you open it. Getting 10% or 20% off may seem like a great deal, but some of these cards can be costly in the long run. Store-branded credit cards tend to have higher interest rates than bank cards so if you don’t pay off the balance on time, you may be paying interest equal to what you saved anyway. If you are only using the card sparingly for major purchases you can pay in full, it can help you save, you just need to use the card wisely.
Store cards often are easier to qualify for than regular credit cards, so they can be particularly attractive for those with bad credit. If you want to see where your credit scores stand, you can check two of them for free every month on Credit.com.
5. Buying Cheap
There is a reason they say “you get what you pay for.” When you cut costs by buying the cheapest possible everything, you may find that you are replacing those items sooner than if you had just paid more for higher quality. When you’re shopping with a tight budget, it’s important to not only think of price — but also of value. If you can afford it, it’s a good idea to choose items that will last longer and function better.
6. Over-Saving in Your Emergency Fund
It’s definitely important to have some money set aside in case of an emergency. While it is rarely bad to have too much money tucked away, having it all in a low-interest checking or savings account may be costing you. It’s a good idea to research other options that may yield higher interest and still give you relatively easy access to your funds.
Remember that saving money will take time — do not let yourself get misled by opportunities to save that actually cost you money.
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