If you can't stick to your budget, it's probably because of the way you justify the purchases you make.
With rising gas and food prices making a large dent in most people's monthly budget, it's more important than ever to limit spending to those things that are part of your budget.
If you hear yourself making any of the following common justification as to why it's okay to spend money, it's a sign that you are undermining the effort you are putting forth to get your finances in order.
"I work hard so I deserve it."
This usually is a way to justify trying to keep up with the Joneses. If the Joneses are able to get all those toys and don't put forth the effort that you do, then you deserve at least the same as them, the thought process goes.
Yes, you do work hard, but you don't necessarily deserve everything you want. What you do deserve are the things that you have made the effort to save for and pay for in full.
"Live a little!"
(Also: "Life is short!" "You can't take it with you." "If I waited until I could afford it, I could never buy anything.")
These are some common examples that are used as justification for fulfilling instant gratification.
It's true that you can't take it with you, but that doesn't mean you want to spend it all before you even have it. Part of the reason to get your finances in order is so that you can do all the things you want to do today and still have money left over to do all the things you want to do tomorrow, next month, next year and 10 years from now.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
When it comes to making purchases, most things are not available once in a lifetime. Even antiques and rare collectibles are usually available for a price, and they are far more rare than that cute sweater or latest gadget that you are using this phrase to justify purchasing.
Just because it happens to be on sale as well still doesn't make the justification any more sound.
"I can't decline invitations."
It doesn't matter whether it's an invitation to go shopping, out to dinner or some other event that you can't really afford. This justification is often used by those who don't want to admit to others that they are on a budget and want to appear like they have plenty of money to do anything and everything.
If you tell yourself you still have to accept the invitations even when the money isn't in your budget, your budgeting efforts will be useless.
"I had a hard childhood, so I deserve to treat myself."
Many people use their past to justify their spending habits today. The irony is that spending money that they don't have is far more likely to bring them back to an impoverished state than budgeting is.
"It was on sale!"
(Also: "I got a really good deal." "It was only $10.00.")
Everyone wants to get things at a good price, but a good price in itself is not a reason to buy something. A deal is not really a deal if it is something that you would never have purchased in the first place had it not been found for a low price.
Buy what you need and will use, rather than what happens to be available at a discount.
"It's a good investment"
Investments are meant to increase in value over time. Depreciating assets should never be considered an investment.
Often people justify buying something by saying it's a "good investment" when it really is nothing more than an additional purchase.
Jewelry, gadgets, timeshares, items for a hobby, special or limited-edition merchandise are some common things that people try to justify buying with the "investment" tag.
"You have to play to win!"
This is a classic justification to play games of chance. What you won't hear is that you also have to play to lose and it's much more likely that you're going to lose because the odds are stacked against you. If you want to gamble, it should be part of your entertainment budget, not an excuse to ruin your budget.
"It's a tax deduction!"
Getting a tax deduction is a bonus, but it is not a reason to purchase something. Taking out a home equity loan will get you a tax deduction, but it will also put you further in debt at the same time.
Tax deductions are something that can be positive and one aspect to consider when making a decision on how to handle your finances, but using it as the main justification to do something is a good way to wreak havoc upon your budget.
"I'm expecting a big inheritance from my parents."
(Also: "I'm going to get a big bonus this quarter." "My tax refund is due soon.")
One of the best ways to blow a budget is to assume that you have a certain amount of money before it actually is deposited into your banking account.
Things happen and the expected amount can end up being far less that imagined. That big inheritance can disappear with medical bills, that bonus may be cut due to unexpected company changes and you may have made a mistake on that tax return.
Justifying expenditures now on money that you think you'll have in the future is a quick way to seriously foul up your budget.