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  • 3m.

    5 Budgeting Mistakes You May Not Realize You're Making

    Simply having a budget is great; however, that won't ensure you spend wisely. We can all unknowingly fall prey to budgeting mistakes (like using plastic instead of cash) if we're not careful.
    By Bridget Casey - Updated: August 2, 2016

    What You'll Learn

    • The difference between gross and net income.
    • Why you may want to designate "no-spend" days.
    • How using credit cards affects your spending.
    Woman frowning

    Once I started tracking my spending, I didn't think there was much else to money management. After all, my debt was going down and my savings were going up—so everything looked right to me!

    As time went on, though, I realized I was making mistakes with my budget … and I didn't even know it. Here are five of these common mistakes. Check them out to see if they're holding you back from reaching your financial goals.

    1. Budgeting With Your Gross Income

    Your annual gross salary might be impressive—but as much as 30% of it might be going to things like taxes, insurance, and union dues. And that's all money you can't spend.

    Often, people look at their gross earnings when setting up a budget, not the amount actually deposited in their bank accounts (their net income). If you find that you're getting to the end of your money before you get to the end of the month, make sure it's not because you think you're bringing home more cash than you really are.

    2. Accepting Negotiable Bills As Non-Negotiable

    Often, we accept paying more for a regular service simply because it's the path of least resistance. However, if you spend 20 minutes negotiating a discount or bundle rate, you might be able to save money for months on things like your phone bill or cable bill. If you have a strong record of payment, you may even be able to reduce things like interest rates simply by asking—the worst that can happen is your creditor says no!

    3. Spending Money Every Day

    Whether it's coffee in the morning or lunch with coworkers every workday, little expenses always add up to big spending. This may seem fine if you're living within your means; however, it never hurts to go without spending money every day.

    I'm not willing to cut out lattes from my favorite coffee shop completely, but designating 2 or 3 days a week as "no-spend days" reins in my impulse buying habit. If you find you're "accidentally" spending money when you don't need to, leave your cash/cards at home at least twice a week. It's a short, quick, and easy solution!

    4. Using Plastic Instead Of Cash

    I make this budgeting mistake to this day. I love the convenience of debit and credit cards because looking at my statements each month is easier than writing down every time I buy something.

    Still, studies show that you spend 12% to 18% more when using plastic instead of cash. Apparently, it's more psychologically painful to pay with real bills than with a credit card swipe. So, if you're making this mistake too, consider switching to a cash-only system—it will leave you with more money to save and invest.

    5. Thinking "Found" Money Doesn't Count

    Whether it's a bonus at work or money you earn selling items on eBay, it's easy to count extra income as "free" money and spend it as if it doesn't count. One of the main reasons I was able to pay off my student loan debt is I put every extra dollar I received toward it.

    A dollar is a dollar is a dollar, regardless of its origin, so it's important to treat any extra cash that comes your way as help for meeting your financial goals. Every cent counts!!

    Por Bridget Casey - Actualizado: 2 agosto 2016
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