My Biggest Budget Busters

Cindy at Oh My Aching Debts (don’t you just love that name?) tagged me to reveal my top 5 budget busters. I thought about taking the easy way out and listing “Pizza”, “Pop”, “Chocolate”, “Ice Cream”, and “Eating Out That Doesn’t Fit Into the Previous Categories”, but that wouldn’t make much of a post. Here are my real top 5 Budget Busters.

Eating Out

You knew this one already. I tell myself that I’m too tired to cook, it’s too hot to cook, my kitchen is too small for me to cook, and the list goes on. They’re all excuses though. The truth is, if I prepared for nights that I don’t feel like cooking, I wouldn’t eat out so much.

Gas for the Car

Now that soccer season has started again, we have to take the kids into the neighboring town 4 times a week. Add to that another day for church and another evening for worship team practice/AWANA, we drive into the next town 6 times a week.

There’s not really a lot we can do about that though. The town we live in is so small, there aren’t as many programs for the kids. I’ll just be glad when soccer is over and we can get back to only driving into the neighboring town twice a week.

Satellite TV

When we drastically slashed the budget last year, the one thing we kept was satellite TV. It used to be that we were satisfied with the 4 TV stations we got with an antenna. Then when my husband was making good money, we ventured into the world of satellite television.

Though we don’t watch a lot of TV, I am a news addict, and I like the news stations. I also like HGTV a lot. House Hunters is my favorite. And my husband and son could watch the Speed channel all day (but we don’t have the TV on all day).

My Weight

Yes, you got that right. I’m not obese by any means, but if I keep gaining weight like I’ve been gaining it, I’ll be there before I know it. My weight itself hasn’t caused anything like health problems yet, but every summer I pull out my clothes, and they don’t fit.

I just pulled out my shorts yesterday, and they were a little snug. I bought a bunch of new clothes last year, because my clothes from the year before didn’t fit. It looks like I need to seriously start losing weight, or I’ll need new clothes again.

Stupid Tax

No, not the taxes I just mailed off to the IRS (though they definitely busted my budget). I’m talking stupid mistakes that cost me money. A library book returned late. A collect phone call that needs to be made, because keys were locked in the wrong place. Buying extra food, because I forgot I already had what I needed. Buying food from the expensive local grocery store because I forgot to pick something up at Winco.

These all cause us to spend money we shouldn’t have to spend. It comes from a lack of organization. Actually, eating out and my weight gain could probably be attributed to a lack of organization, too. I guess I know what I need to work on.

So, now that you know my top budget busters, what are yours?

And to spread the budget busting love, I’m going to tag Paidtwice, Madison, and Pinyo to share their top 5 budget busters!


By , on Apr 18, 2008
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. LOL, “Stupid Tax” really cracked me up. Parking/Speeding tickets are another “Stupid Tax” example.

  2. Our biggest budget buster are eating out frequently, buying clothes even when its not really needed and the late fees as I always fail to return the library book on time or pay bills at the right time.

  3. Lynn:

    Biggest budget buster here is my hubby’s midlife crisis. It has two wheels and is patently unnecessary. He got it in his head last week and he just HAD to have a motorcycle. I made him buy used, and he is not allowed to put a cent into it for the next year, other than gas.

    Dollar stores, take out coffee, and specialty foods at the grocery store are my extras here.

  4. Wordsmith:

    My budget busters are:
    –buying new books at Barnes & Noble instead of the used bookstore (there are two in Medford but have limited hours; B&N are open ’til 10 so I can stop on my way home from work)
    –eating out; because of my irregular work hours and days, lots of times it’s just plain easier to eat on the way to or from work and buy canned or frozen food to eat at work because I can’t leave my workplace
    –got rid of the dish TV last summer; was turning hubby into a zombie, but still have landline phone because I need DSL for school
    –dumped Netflix because hubby couldn’t remember how to order new movies (this was the alternative to the dish TV)
    –He drives a gashog he won’t give up (you pick your battles, right?)
    –Disabled hubby is home all day so utilities are in use most of the time except when he’s asleep (heat, electricity)
    –Upped cell phone plan to unlimited, which increased cost $30, but that’s because I go out of state to care for sick mom from time to time and make a lot of phone calls when I’m gone

    We all have our particular budget busters, eh?

  5. Elizalex:

    Wonder if the utility companies are scamming us??
    We did an experiment. This past January and February, we turned off the heat and hot water heater to the upstairs of our two story home and stayed downstairs (we have separate water heaters and heat pumps up and down). We quit washing dishes and used paper plates and cups. We went from 1-2 loads of laundry per day to 2 a week. We turned our downstairs thermostat to 68 or colder. Well, guess what, hardly any difference at all in our bill or “reading”. 13 whole kilowatts less than the month prior with the same temperatures and no different from the same time the previous year. So really, why bother? I think they are just manufacturing these readings. We also had no change in use when we were gone from our house for a month one year. Hmmmm. When you call them up and tell them they act like they cannot hear what you are telling them and go into their pat speech about things you can do to cut back on use–infuriating!!

  6. Elizalex:

    I used to fall into the trap of eating out because I was too tired or it was too hot or I was just tired of my own cooking. My trick: Buy a few gourmet frozen dinners (the really good brands like Bertolli, Stouffers) and have on hand when you get weak. A quick heat in a pan or zap in the microwave and we have elegant dining for a few dollars instead of $25-45 average restaurant bill. Be sure to serve on fancy plates and you’ll forget it was frozen. Guess what, many chain restaurants just heat up frozen meals from the corporate kitchens!

  7. Rebecca Rivera:

    my biggest budget busters:
    -dollar stores
    -not bringing cash to any store
    -taking my kids to any store
    -buying more curriculum or school activities (I homeschool)
    -Target, no matter what I go in for I always spend about $100 (I need to stay out of Target)

    but I am now doing cash only and avoiding dollar stores, and am committed to not buying any school stuff unless we sell something we already have to pay for it or until summer whne we will need next year’s stuff -Becky R in NJ
    (single mom to two boys who lives on less than $20,000 a year including child support)

  8. Kate:

    For me it has to be not buying rand names. I stopped that years ago when i realised that the non branded items were just as good and cost sooooo much less. Ok there a few things that are not as good, baked beans being the main one. But apart from that everything is non branded. If i went to my cupboard now there wouldn’t be one brand item.
    Save big buy generic

  9. No 1.
    My NetFlix subscription. I hardly get time to watch movies these days and every month I pay $9.99. I watched only one movie in last two months and the cost was $20.
    No 2. Carry out food, especially when ther is no time or interest to cook and unfortunately this happens almost once a week :-(
    No 3 . Impulsive shopping.

  10. L. Ottaviano:

    I have to admit I don’t share most of the budget busters you and the other commenters list. We get TV through rabbit-ears, used cloth diapers, rarely eat out, pay off credit card every month, and drive a small 2-door car. However, what saps my money are unexpected things, like my healthy 7-year old cat dying earlier this year (vet bill for IV and X-ray before he stopped breathing, and cremation fee after he stopped breathing = over $300), the 11-year old dishwasher that started leaking (still haven’t bought a new one because I’m waiting for the right one to appear on Craigslist), and the fall of the dollar compared to the euro (will adversely affect our spending in Italy this summer). We live frugally, shop locally, support small business, and never go to big-box stores (Costco/Wal-Mart). It truly makes a difference in the wallet, and soothes the soul to know my dollar stays close to home.

  11. MIchelle H.:

    Hi Everyone,
    My biggest budget busters are 1) remodeling a house and keeping up taxes and utilities for it when we don’t even need it yet. We bought it for a retirement home as we live in a parsonage. However,in hindsight, we should have just put the money in a mutual fund and waited until we needed it. 2) eating out too much – we rock along pretty well for 2 or 3 months and then have a month like this one where we’ve already eaten out 4x! 3) I’m having the same clothing problem as you Lynnae. I hate buying bigger sizes but it looks like I’ll have to this summer.ERRRR!

  12. Thanks for the tag Lynnae. I will post this on Monday :-)

  13. Marci:

    Biggest budget busters? 1. Landline phone – because I live in a very small rural area, my phone company provides the internet link. I cannot, according to them, have internet without phone. The bundle together costs $60/month. It would be half of that without the phone :(

    2. Internet shopping – ebay is my downfall and I know it. I buy vintage Florida history books. I tell myself it’s research for the book I am writing – but to be honest, there are over 300 books now on my shelves. The good part is they do resell well when I decide (rarely) to part with one.

    3. House construction – addition. I’m over budget by double. The contractor said my budget was unrealistic. :) I no longer have a contractor and am finishing things up with a little (lot of) help from my friends. And free/scrounged materials :)

    As everything is on a cash basis, it can’t go over budget :) Out of cash means the end of spending. Single income single person household – so I keep myself in line fairly well. Years of practice helps!

  14. Our biggest budget buster is Wes! I am consistently $30 to $100 over budget, no matter what I’m shopping for, if Wes is with me. This is the main reason I do all the shopping.

  15. Erin:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Our biggest budget buster is random splurges. We’ll buy the kids a movie (because it’s on sale) or we’ll by a new shirt, etc. We end up going over that budget category every month. The other main area is gas. We live ten miles from town so if we want to leave base it’s a 20 mile round trip.

  16. Lee:

    Our biggest budget buster is eating out and really, getting too much junk at the grocery store. My kids and my husband like their cookies a
    and chips a little too much, but they feel like they are deprived if they don’t get them. -Sigh-
    So I have to do some major rearranging on the grocery list sometimes to allow for it. I try to get a good amount of fruit and V-8 juice to go along with the not-so-good stuff.

    Other budget busters are the extra phone line for the dial-up internet,( so my main phone line’s not tied up.) and the extra money my kids need for their various activities or school things.

    I guess it boils down to being frugal in some areas to allow for the splurges in other areas. Though it’d be nice to be able to be frugal in every area.

  17. We have a really large gas budget so that we’re always well-within it. The extra money goes to savings or somesuch. Otherwise I’m sure that’d be a budget buster on months like this where we have to drive out to a wedding.

  18. We still have some “eating out” money leaking from our budget. It is usually because of a lack of planning, or some other distraction that we wind up home a 6:00 with nothing to prepare. Well, that and the fact we live 1 mile from a Subway restaurant!

  19. Eating out and buying clothes at the thrift shop used to be our downfall. Nowadays I would say it is the cost of our eldest’s special foods–which we now make from scratch and then there are health care costs. We have had a few major set backs in that department over the last few years. Otherwise we really don’t have many–our biggest issue is just bringing in enough to cover the necessary stuff plus pay off debt.

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