Avoid budget backfire

By Reid Kanaley The Philadelphia Inquirer

Is there a downside to keeping a personal or family budget? Yes, according to some experts and bloggers. But knowing the drawbacks should help you stay on the path to financial health.

Budget templates: You can get started easily on tracking your expenses by using a free downloadable budget template from Vertex42.com. It’s an Excel spreadsheet that has easy-to-fill-in spaces for home, transportation, entertainment and other expenses, and does the math to compare your monthly estimates with actual costs.

The site is a gold mine of templates for use in Microsoft Excel and Word and includes some handy free financial calculators, calendars, invoice templates, checkbook registers and so on; http://tinyurl.com/VertexTemplate.

Can budgeting cost more? A study by professors at Emory and Brigham Young Universities seems to demonstrate that, given a budget for an expenditure such as replacing a blown tire during a car trip, people will tend to spend more than they need to.

It’s an interesting dilemma and a warning for those who assume a budget will save them money, when, if fact, overestimating can be costly. The study is mentioned here in a recent blog post at the Wall Street Journal; http://tinyurl.com/WSJCosts.

View a PowerPoint presentation with charts and graphs by the professors, Ryan Hamilton and Jeffrey S. Larson; http://tinyurl.com/BudgetBackfire.

When crisis hits: Managing your own finances through a personal crisis — such as suddenly losing your job — is the subject of this posting at the website Mind Your Finances.

Many things we consider absolute necessities these days need to be reconsidered when tough times hit. Those include the cellphone — “Learn to go without,” the post advises — premium cable service, and long, hot showers. Yes, it all adds up; http://tinyurl.com/WeatheringCrisis.

Avoid the downside of keeping a budget. Budgeting has its pitfalls, says this post by Donna Reish at MoneyHacker, part of a site called Investinternals.com.

Unrealistic goals, rigid allocations and reluctance to use some sophisticated-but-easy tools available on apps and websites will frustrate your own best efforts with discouragement; http://tinyurl.com/BudgetPitfalls.