Few consumers find sticking to a budget to be easy, a new survey shows, and the reason could be that many just aren’t good at it.
SlickDeals, an online shopping platform where consumers share information about sales and saving money, surveyed 2,000 consumers to gain some insight into their budgeting habits. A majority of those surveyed — 74% — said they work with a budget. However, only 10% said they thought budgeting was easy while a whopping 79% of those who have a budget say they have trouble sticking to it.
Survey respondents were asked to provide their weekly budgets excluding debts such as housing and credit card bills. The average weekly budget among respondents was $197.31. However, the actual amount spent each week on average totaled $340.18, which is $142.87Online shopping, groceries the biggest budget killers over their projections. When multiplied over the course of 52 weeks, or one year, respondents spent approximately $7,429.24 more each year than they budgeted for.
While impulsive spending can wreak havoc on a budget, the survey suggests that insufficient planning may be part of the problem since many respondents overspend on necessary monthly expenses. For example, 32% of respondents said they overspend on household essentials, which suggests that their budget does not accurately reflect the costs of their needs. Grocery shopping — another necessary expense — was the second biggest budget killer among respondents, with 39% saying they went over budget in the grocery store.
The No. 1 budget killer was online shopping, cited by 40% of respondents. Other categories that respondents overspend in include subscriptions (37%), technology products (36%) and buying lunch every day (35%).
Rounding out the top 10 budget killers were:
household essentials (32%)
food delivery (32%)
gym memberships (30%)
Consumers appear to be aware that they are spending more than they intend. In fact, 76% of respondents said they feel guilty when they go over budget, and the average consumer resists the temptation to buy six items because they want to be cognizant of their budgets. Yet, many have conflicting emotions because 69% of respondents said they actually feel happier when they overlook the constraints of their budget and spend more than they allotted for.
While creating a budget is key to monitoring your spending and ensuring that your money goes toward your biggest priorities, it’s important to make sure your budget reflects reality. After all, if the cost of your monthly needs exceeds what you’re budgeting for them, your budget is destined for failure. Take some time to track your spending before creating a budget so you know what you’re really spending on a daily basis. For example, find out what your average food costs are so you can budget accordingly. Finally, it’s worth noting that making a budget and sticking to a budget are two different things. If your budget challenges are behavioral, find ways to avoid temptations like staying off of shopping websites and unsubscribing from retailers’ mailing lists.