Five Budget Killers You Can Avoid

by Sean Bryant on August 1, 2013

budgetA budget is an essential step towards financial responsibility and stability but certain thing can seriously derail your plans if left unchecked. Here are five budget killers that you should avoid:


Nothing puts a strain on your finances in the same way as an addiction. In most cases, when someone takes a financial misstep it is because they weren’t paying attention or they didn’t know what they were doing. With an addiction you can know you are hurting your body and your budget and still struggle. Things like alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling can really destroy your budget especially when they are done in excess. The best thing you can do is to moderate or quit bad habits that you have. If you can’t, on your own, look for some help.

Impulse Purchases

When you are in the store do you find yourself leaving with more than you planned on buying? Do you ever get home and realize it was a mistake to buy whatever it is you bought? Well, these are called impulse purchases and they can really hurt your budget if it happens too often. One way to avoid buying on an impulse is to create a list to follow while you are in the store. A list can keep you focused and when make you more aware when you stray from it. There are plenty of other ways you can avoid impulse buying.

Unplanned Emergencies

An emergency or disaster can be a rough time to go through and to add insult to injury; it can ruin your finances. Of course, it is impossible to know what life has in store for you just around the corner but you can plan for emergencies. If you budget in an emergency fund ahead of time you may be better financially prepared for whatever you may face. Remember, an emergency is not always a big disaster. It can be a costly car repair or a job loss. You should grow your emergency fund to several months’ worth of salary.

Loans without a plan

Many of you will probably have to borrow money at one point or another, whether it is to buy a house, get an education or start a business. However, if you do take out a loan, make sure you have an effective plan for paying it off. To avoid problems in the future:

  • Only borrow if you absolutely have to.
  • Only borrow what you need.
  • Don’t borrow more than your next year’s salary. So you can pay it off in a reasonable amount of time. 


Avoid fees as much as you can. Things like ATM fees, credit card fees, overdraft fees and late fees should not be tolerated. Make payments on time and choose ATMs and credit cards that don’t charge you to access your own money.

Keep these five things in mind as you deal with your money. Too many missteps can lead to some serious problems. If you’ve already fallen into some considerable debt and you don’t know how to get out try contacting a credit counseling service like Consolidated Credit to see if they can help you. If you have no money issues currently make sure you avoid these budget killers.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.

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  • Holly Johnson

    Yep, these are all budget killers! I live in Indiana and sooooooooo many people here still smoke. It’s crazy that an addiction like that can cost $5 per day. That can really add up!

  • Alexa Mason

    I have seen the effects of addiction on many people. Most of the people I know who have hardcore addictions like alcohol or drugs really don’t care about money other than having enough to get what they need. It’s sad.

  • Impulse purchases are such a budget buster, which is why I try to stay away from the mall whenever possible haha

  • I would say
    unplanned emergencies are the biggest budget killers. I’ve maxed out my
    insurance the past two years because of sinus surgeries. I did not plan
    on having major sinus issues, but they happened nonetheless. Additionally
    I think when you own a home you are much more exposed to unexpected
    expenses. Just last month we paid $500 to get our garage door coils
    replaced after they broke. You almost have to expect things to go wrong
    every few months if you own a home (or a car for that matter).

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