My Biggest Budget Busters

Lynnae at Being Frugal tagged me and asked about my biggest budget busters. The request could’ve been difficult since I don’t budget. Fortunately, I have been experimenting with, and I was able to pull out some big purchases and budget busters. So, here are my top fives (in the reverse order):

5. Eating Out

A few dinners out do add up quickly. Aside from my mortgage and the hospital bills, eating out represents the third largest expense category for my family.

TGI Friday’s and Outback are the lucky winners in this category.

4. Utilities

It’s odd that my gas and electricity expenses are not captured by — I will have to figure out why. Anyway, I was paying $175 a month for gas and $125 for electricity last year (level payment plan). At the beginning of the year, I had a goal to reduce these utility expenses by 10% each. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. My gas bill went up to $189 and my electricity went up to $172 this year — ouch.


Image from auntyevil via Flickr

3. Cellular phones

It’s amazing how many cell phones are in use today, considering the expenses. My family doesn’t have any money problem, but we still feel the sting every time we get our cell phone bill. Not counting my mortgage, this represents the third most expensive item for our household expenses.

2. Gift for my wife

When my wife gave birth, I wanted to give her something to commemorate the event. So I decided to buy her a diamond pendant that turned out to be $500 more expensive than planned.

But hey, celebrating first-born son is something we can only do once in our lifetime.

1. Hospital Bills

If my son was born a few years earlier, we wouldn’t have to pay anything. Unfortunately, our health insurance has been getting worse yearly. After my wife gave birth in December, the bills finally arrived in late March. So far, we paid close to $1,500 and I am not sure if it’s all over yet.

To honor the tradition of meme, I will tag Gibble, Plonkee Money, and Single Guy Money.

Since I already shared my biggest budget busters, what are yours? Remember, each comment you leave earns you an entry to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

By , on Apr 21, 2008
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (22 Comments)

  1. John D says:

    Couple years late adding to this column, but what the heck..

    My biggest budget buster has to be kids simply put. 3 teen boys go through lots of “pocket change.” Luckily the oldest, 17 is coming to the point of understanding HOW MUCH THAT IS and has curtailed his requests to mostly needs. Hopefully the other two will catch on soon.

    Beyond that, eating out is a very close second exceeding easily $500.00 month. Busy and on the run constant, generally not realistic options of go home and make it.

    Is what it is….. hang in there everyone.

  2. Joselyn says:

    My one of my biggest budget busters is taking my kids with me when I go shopping. I’ve learned to shop when they’re not with me. Otherwise, I end up buying more. I will only take my kids with me when the item is something they need to choose, like clothes, shoes or a school bag.

  3. Joe Catania says:

    I agree with the gift issue for the lady. What did SHE buy YOU ? I thought we “liberated” women and have seen little progress in the area of women buying men lavish gifts ? Why must we as men reward the mothers of our children? What physical reward do the women buy for men as new fathers?
    This outmoded and outdsated practice gives a gift to women that should the relationship dissolve, becomes a simple gift given to her? Again, where is her gift to YOU as the father of the child ? Perhaps the money would be better spent investing in the child’s future education, etc…?

  4. Linnie says:

    Let’s not forget the cable bill. I see it keep going up each year. My medical bills top it all.

  5. Heidi says:

    Well, seems like when we get going along, then BAM something happens to the car causing a major budget buster, but, while its not the prettiest thing to drive, it could be worse looking and I could have a monthly payment. Ill take ugly over that any day!

    Oh, and KIDS, they bust it everytime!

  6. Cynthia Gay says:

    I’m naming the first few that came to mind after reading your article.

    1. Taking nephews and nieces to the movies. Now, if I take them somewhere, I ask the parents if they wouldn’t mind paying. If they say they can’t afford it this week, we find an activity that doesn’t cost money.

    2. Cancelled Netflix. I got to where I was not watching the movies as often, so I cancelled it.

    3. Put money in a jar instead of eating out. I really wanted to see how my pocket was being affected by fast food. So, I started putting money in a jar every time I wanted to eat out and ate at home instead. The first week I was amazed! I kept it up to find that after one month, I had almost $200 in my jar!

  7. Ideal4Investors says:

    It”s amazing how the little things end up nickel and diming you to death! Cell phones, cable bills ($80+!!), and Costco.

  8. Hey Pinyo,

    The beer and ciggies jar looks really big! My biggest budget buster is probably eating out. I used to be really good about cooking at home more, but it’s gets tougher and tougher the busier I get.

  9. bunny says:

    Awww…that’s so sweet! I like it that you spend on your wife! 🙂 She sure is lucky!!

  10. cindy says:

    Guess my biggest budget busters would be not working overtime, and the loss of my $400 a month child support payment.
    I still have a child at home, but because he’s not in school his Dad doesn’t have to pay support anymore. I still have to maintain a home for him, which still costs me as much $$ as it always did. The only difference is I don’t have to give him spending $$.
    The OT is just not there anymore, and while I don’t miss working 6 days a week, I am having a hard time managing my finances without it.

  11. Pinyo says:

    @Mrs. Micah — Yeah, medical expenses are out of this world.

    @Jim — Thanks!

    @Dan — I don’t think HDHP is the right plan for new parents. I think it works great for singles and young couples, but not a family. In any case, I hate deductible plans…I long for my old co-pay plan. And we also do the same with clothes, once in every few months we’ll spend about $100-200.

    @Brian – Impulse Amazon buy? I thought it only happens with eBay…

    @TPF – I am thinking about packing lunch to work. That should save about $30-35 a week and leaving more money for me to spend on the weekend with my family. 🙂

  12. The Personal Financier says:

    I think your situation is pretty good. At least two of your biggest budget busters are very flexible (eating out, cellular phones) and can be easily minimized.

    Good luck.

  13. Dan says:

    I’m right there with you on the baby-fees. Since I work for a hospital management company, I thought I’d get a free ride…well, I tried an HDHP this year and I’m paying through the nose since the PPO and HMO would’ve paid for 100% of the hospital costs, but the HDHP puts the ball back in my court. When all’s said and done, my out of pocket for the our little one will probably be $3000–unexpected!

    That put a damper on eating out, etc.

    We also blow the budget once in a while on clothes. Say, an extra $100-200 a month every third month.

  14. Jim McKay says:

    Cool picture for your 5.

  15. Brian says:

    Mine are definitely eating out, plus the occasional Amazon impulse purchase. Amazon is killing me this month, since I keep buying myself birthday presents!

  16. Jonathan says:

    Thanks makes sense about your budgeting arrangements now

  17. Mrs. Micah says:

    Sometimes when my mom mentions her hospital bills, she also points out that without insurance, they’d be insane. Small comfort as they creep towards insanity, but some. Her medications cost over $100k/year.

  18. Pinyo says:

    @CindyS – Did you start this? Thank you. It’s a good meme.

    @Mark – I found the picture on Flickr under creative commons search. You can follow the attribution at the end of the post to find the original.

    @Vered – That was my biggest budget buster last year. Two people in Thailand of 3 weeks = a lot of money. But I love good vacations.

    @Make Friends – I didn’t count my mortgage because it is within budget. In any case, $900 a month is really cheap. My 2100 sq ft townhouse is $1500 a month, and I bought it when it was at a third of the current market price.

    I don’t budget because most of the key expenses and savings are already done upfront — i.e., 401k, mortgage, utilities, insurances, etc.

  19. Vered says:

    Vacations – we always seem to spend more than we planned.

    Organic food – we have grown accustomed to buying most of our food at Whole Foods. I am amazed and appalled at our grocery bill. We will need to tackle this soon, possibly concentrate on just a few organic staples and buy the rest conventional.

  20. Mark Krusen says:

    Eating out is our biggest budget buster also. I like the picture you used to represent the expenses. Very cool. Could I borrow that sometime.

  21. Jonathan says:

    Mine would be

    1. Mortgage Payments (over here in the UK these are very expensive around $900-1000 dolars a month.

    2. Pet Insurance

    3. Celluar Phone (or mobile phones as we call them in the UK)

    Interesting to hear that you don’t budget.

  22. CindyS says:

    I must say that a gift for your wife is the nicest budget buster that I have read so far. 🙂 What a lucky girl! Thanks for playing along.

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