Esther Shaw

How to cope if you end up overspending on your budget

By Esther Shaw 29/01/2015

If you're busting your budget making a lot of impulse purchases each month, you may need to think about making a few small tweaks to your spending behaviour.

You may have spent the past few weeks or months watching what you spend, and budgeting extremely carefully, with the help of our calculator. But despite your best frugal intentions, there is a chance you will have sabotaged that process at times by giving in to the temptation to buy that coat you’ve had your eye on for ages, or splashing out on expensive dinner with friends. If this happens, the most important thing is not to view this as a failure; what matters, instead, is how you deal with this overspend.

As a starting point, you need to look again at where your money is going. This means sitting down with your budget and looking at where you’re parting with more cash than you planned. If the reason you’re busting your budget is the fact you’re making a lot of impulse purchases each month, you need to think about making a few small tweaks to your behaviour.

This might mean eliminating a few unnecessary purchases or introducing a rule that you can’t buy anything until a 30-day waiting period has passed (by which time you may find the urge to splurge has passed anyway).

Alternatively, think about finding cheaper ways to go on enjoying the things that cost you a lot of money in the ‘discretionary spend’ category. You could, for example, use vouchers when dining out to reduce the bill, or wait until the sales to buy that designer dress or high-end gadget, as these items could then be significantly cheaper.

At the same time, if you look at your monthly budget and see that you’re paying out more than you expected to on essential spend such as utility bills, see if there are ways to reduce this expenditure, such as using less or moving to a new provider.

Also check out whether you’ve severely underestimated any of your essential expenses and ask yourself if you can find ways to reign in this spend, or whether you need to adjust your numbers accordingly for the next month. For the first few months, a budget is very much a work in progress.

Crucially, when you overspend in any category of your budget, you need to be flexible as circumstances do change, and few months are ‘normal.’ That said, you also need to address this overspending before moving on to the next month, as this will give you the best possible chance of sticking to your budget on an ongoing basis.

when they eventually do. To find out how much you could save each month, try out our Savings Calculator.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.