Every month, you promise yourself that you’ll save a meaty portion of your salary or paycheck. But by the end of the month, you find that you’ve completely overspent and are in the red. If this is your situation month-on-month, you may have leaks in your budget that need to be fixed right away. Here are some common leaks and tips to help patch up:
#1: Leaky spot
All things miscellaneous: Little purchases, impulse buys
You go out window shopping but you end up impulsively buying something for AED 20 or less. You tell yourself it doesn’t matter – it’s a small amount after all. Doing this once or twice probably won’t create a major budget leak. But if it’s habitual, it adds up. Small gizmos and one-use kitchen tools (e.g. avocado slicers which do the job a spoon can do) are attractive but unnecessary tools that cost you those extra dirhams.
Fix it: If you like something, wait for some time before buying it. Put some distance between yourself and the commodity. If it’s a tool, consider whether you can fulfill its purpose with resources already at your disposal. If you still want it after a week, a fortnight or a month, check your budget and either go for it or save for it.
#2: Leaky spot
Coupons, gift vouchers, deals
Found a lovely spa deal at that 5-star hotel? It’s really tempting to get the value-for-money ‘amazing deal’. But spending for something you weren’t going to get in the first place changes the purchase from a smart buy to a budget leak.
Fix it: Get coupons for only those things that you needed or already planned to spend on.
#3: Leaky spot
Forgetfulness and wastefulness
Forgetting to pay bills on time or wasting a major portion of what you buy, hurts your budget. For instance, when you make late payments on credit cards, you get charged penalty fees. The interest rate also adds up as your debt increases. Similarly, a lot of us over stock our refrigerators, only to trash out wilted greens, soured milk or softened fruits after some days. No matter what kind of forgetfulness or wastefulness you’re guilty of: it’s sinking your budget.
Fix it: Keep accounts and bills organized. Mark your calendar so you don’t forget. Keep debt to a minimum and compare credit cards/ loans for the lowest interest rate possible. Accurately evaluate what you need, and buy ONLY that much. Tape a list of the stock you already have on the refrigerator door.
#4: Leaky spot
A team that’s not in sync
Getting your family to work with you on your budget may become a challenge. If your partner and kids are not on board with the plan, they could end up spending too much money or blowing through a category spending in one day.
Fix it: Discuss your financial position with them on a regular basis. Use this opportunity to teach kids how to budget. Consider giving a regular allowance and help them manage that bit of money properly.
#5: Leaky spot
It could be something as small as an unexpected party invitation which requires you to buy gifts or something as big as a car repair or an unforeseen medical cost. If you haven’t planned or budgeted for it, it can really hurt you when it’s time to pay up.
Fix it: Set aside a portion of your income monthly, as an emergency fund. Don’t let these leaks drain away your hard-earned money drop-by-drop. Try these fixes and consider downloading a budget tracking app like Goodbudget or Mint that helps you see how much you spend and identify trouble spots.