9 Excuses Why You Haven’t Started A Budget Yet

Budget Spreadsheet
I was thinking about why more people and families don’t have a budget.

It’s really the thing to do to keep track of your expenses and income and make sure you don’t go over with your spending.  I thought about all the different excuses I’ve heard and seen from people.

So why haven’t you started a budget? Here are some common reasons:

You Don’t Want To Be Told What To Do

A budget can tell you how much you actually have to spend and what you can afford every month.  You don’t want to be told where your money has to go and you don’t want to hear that you can’t spend when you want.

A Budget Constrains You

You feel choked by the limitations of a budget.  Can’t spend what I want on clothes.  {Cough, cough.}  Can’t go out for coffee drinks every day.  {Choke.}  The mere thought of a budget starts to make you feel walled in.

You Can’t Do What You Want

What fun is it to know you can’t afford to go out to eat four times a week?  Who wants that.  You want to be able to spend freely and do what you feel at the moment.  That’s what freedom is, isn’t it?

Can’t Give Up Your Ego And Admit You Need To Control Your Spending

You refuse to believe that you have a spending problem.  You’re living an illusion.  Even though it causes stress you always find a way out of your financial messes without learning the lessons.  When there’s a will there’s a way and you can spend what you want.  Everything’s ok.

Your Expenses Are Too Big To Get Your Head Around

You want to have a budget but you don’t know where to start.  You’ve tried to get a few bills together but the task seems too big so you end up giving up.  You’re not organized enough to get everything together.  You may not even know all of the bills you pay every month.  It’s too much.

You’re Afraid

You don’t even want to see what your finances are!  To actually put a number to your expenses would give you a heart attack (not literally but close enough).  You know it’s bad but you really can’t stand to see the actual figures.

It Takes Too Much Energy And Time

You don’t have the time to put all of your receipts and bills together.  You work a 9 to 5 five that’s rarely just that and when you come home the last thing you want to do is more work.

It’s Depressing

It just doesn’t make you feel good to see your finances in a budget.  You would rather not put yourself into a funk so you ignore the idea of a budget.

You Manage To Get By Without One

Your bills get paid.  Money goes into savings.  You invest.  What do you need a budget for? (I’ll answer that one in another post).

That’s nine excuses a person might not have a budget.  Does one of these resemble you?  Can you think of others?

See Part II: Excuse Busters For Not Having A Budget!

Creative Commons License photo credit: sarae

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Published or updated May 14, 2013.


  1. I’m the last one. I’m interested in seeing your post addressing that excuse.

    • @ Matt – That was me too for a long while.

      @ Grant – I like your visual!

      @RateNerd – I agree. Most people don’t realize that though.

      @ Joe – When you budget effectively that’s when you finally control your money and it doesn’t control you!

      @ Weakonomist – The last excuse is the one that is the least harmful for sure. But that fact you are still worried suggests maybe you need to track your expenses a little more. I know what it’s like. We didn’t realize how much discretionary spending we had. We could have been saving so much more over the years!

      @ Hannah – Absolutely! You might not even have any debt but to use your words you may not be using your money “to the best of your potential!”

  2. All valid excuses and we’ve all probably used the majority of these at some point in our lives.

    I’ve heard it put this way though: “Excuses are like armpits. We’ve all got them and they all stink.”

    That’s a lovely visual for you to think about today!

  3. I’m on that last one too. I’ve managed to get by just fine without one. We’ll see how long I can remain that way if the economy gets worse and I lose my job.

  4. I like the excuse that “Budgets are depressing” because I think thats how most folks feel. The truth is that once you do it, it is very liberating. a little pain, a lot of gain.

    RateNerd’s last blog post..Upromise – Save Money For College The Easy Way

  5. I used to be several of these, but when I had my financial tipping point, I realized the true significance of that old adage of controlling the things you can, and accepting the things you can’t. At the time, I couldn’t control how much money I was making (at least not in the short term), but I could control where my money was going. It was then I resolved to create a budget, and find and eliminate the money leaks!

  6. I have used the last excuse as well. The problem with that way of thinking is that you usually don’t save or pay off debt to the best of your potential because you don’t analyze your spending and realize the 2-3 coffees you are buying every day could be paying down your car or put into savings.

    Hannah’s last blog post..Newman’s Own Coffee

  7. Thanks for this list! We have a budget, and sometimes I think it’s depressing 😉 But it can be a handy tool to get you started thinking about how you spend money — and how you can improve.

    Miranda’s last blog post..Top 5 Tips for Your Retirement Account — For Those Just Starting Out

    • @ Miranda – I’m not always happy to see how much I have in expenses and income but it’s so much better to know than be in the dark about it!

  8. I’ve been guilty of most of these at various points in my life. Another reason is that many people think that they don’t know how to write a budget, that it is some mysterious project that they don’t understand or never learned. It amazes me that many of my friends have never considered writing down their income and expenses, much less trying to make them meet somewhere 🙂

    Kate’s last blog post..What’s the Difference? Egg Sizes

    • @ Kate – True. A budget can feel like it’s some kind of financial wizardry if you don’t know where to start. If only they knew if wasn’t that difficult…

  9. Great list and even more reason to start one after reading this. No excuses at all should prevent someone, they all sound ridiculous when you read them out loud.

  10. the one i fall under is the “it takes too much energy and time” one. I’ve been better about that, but i still procrastinate because of that!

  11. I would fall under the procrastinator and had wonderful intentions of updating our budget on excel each month. I finally used an online tool to track our expenses and outflows automatically to help automate the process.

    • Glen Craig says:

      @ Scott – The internet seems to make everything easier doesn’t it? That’s a good thing of course! I’ve been using some tools like Evernote more lately to keep track of things.

  12. Jan Dillaha says:

    How about the “I can’t get my spouse on the same page” excuse?

    • Glen Craig says:

      @ Jan – That’s a good one! I’m sure that’s a big problem for many.

      @ Happiness – I hear you. We’ve been a little loose on keeping up with the details at times.

  13. A few of them most likely resemble me. We don’t have a formal budget per se per category. We do stick to a certain dollar amount and this seems to work. I have been lazy about getting MS Money setup.

  14. How about our excuse: Pure uncertainty.

    As a couple of folks with chronic health conditions, each time we try to plan finer details, unexpected expenses crop up. Things youc can’t plan for, like new medications, a rash of doctor’s visits or other little quirks.

    We have a very vague budget, but it generally consists of “Let’s spend as little as possible, keep $200 in the bank for groceries and other general expenses, and throw the rest at debt.”

    When we try to get any more detailed than that, things take a turn for the worse. Like today, when we found out that we weren’t getting our tax return back. Why? Because turns out hubby had a third student loan. But somehow it was assigned to someone else’s SSN. So that, two years ago, when we rehabbed the loans, it wasn’t on the account/didn’t get included. Since then, there was an investigation (the other guy disputed it, I guess) and it was reassigned to hubby’s SSN. Except, by then, the account was back in good standing. So we weren’t notified. Until today, when we were informed this loan existed, was in collections and the tax return was being used as an offset.

    While this particular twist is a new one, stuff like this happens to us all the time. I’m not saying it to throw myself a pity party (well, maybe a small one… with some streamers… and funny hats) but simply that our past attempts at anything approaching a “real” budget have failed miserably. And we’ve tried a *lot* of approaches.

    • Glen Craig says:

      @ Abigail – Sorry to hear about your current hardship. I still see a budget as valuable so you can more accurately track your expenses ans spending. A budget doesn’t have to be concrete, it can float. Unexpected expenses always come up and if you have a good budget then you can re-work it to free up money for the new expenses. Or at least know how you are going to pay for it.

  15. My personal excuse was that I didn’t have any good budget software. I am an IT guy and love to play with new software so I would try each and every budgeting software I could get my hands on just to see if any were any good. In the end they all were no good and I would give up on the budget. The real reason was number 9 in your list there, at least the main one. My wife paid all the bills and I just left it alone. In the end I decided to get my hands on things and get a budget going. Mint.com is the application I chose, amazing web application.

  16. I have to say its amazing and has really helped me keep track of things as well as save money and plan ahead. I wrote an article about it on my blog.

  17. I think you’re right that people don’t want to over-analyse something about themselves which might make them sad. Of course, the best way to become happy with something is to figure out what makes you sad and then change it.

    I love it when it works out into an upward spiral instead of a downward one.

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