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Americans Bust Their Budgets by $7,429.24 a Year, Data Shows

By Maurie Backman – Sep 19, 2019 at 10:04PM

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Overspending is becoming a troubling trend in the U.S.

The purpose of having a budget is to track your spending and ensure that you're not going overboard. If you do overspend, you risk racking up debt and falling short on your savings goals.

Now, not everyone has a budget, but apparently, even those who do aren't doing a great job of sticking to it. In fact, Americans are spending a whopping $7,429.24 over their budgets every year, according to a new survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Slickdeals.

Here are Americans' biggest budget busters:


Percentage Who Overspend on It

Online shopping


Grocery shopping


Subscription services


Technology products


Buying lunch


Household essentials




Food delivery


Gym memberships





Of course, some of these expenses are necessary ones. We all need groceries, and we all require household essentials like cleaning supplies, kitchenware, towels, and linens. Even coffee can count as a necessity for many people. Therefore, it's not problematic that Americans are spending on these items; rather, it's troubling that they're spending more than anticipated. If you've been falling into a similar boat, whether with regard to the above expenses or other ones, a few simple moves on your part could help get you back on track.

Somber-looking man and woman using laptop on couch and holding sheets of paper.


1. Rework your budget

It's one thing to occasionally overspend in one or two expense categories. But if you find that you're regularly going over your budget in specific areas, whether it's food, utilities, car maintenance, or something else, you'll need to redo your budget so that it more accurately reflects what those expenses cost you.

Chances are, you'll also need to change the way you spend in other categories to compensate. For example, if you typically exceed your monthly grocery budget by $50 despite your best efforts to avoid doing so, you may need to accept the fact that food costs have gone up or that your family's grocery needs have changed and that you'll need to make up that $50 by cutting back on non-essentials, like rideshares, streaming services, or visits to the movie theater. The key, however, is to be realistic about what your expenses cost, and set priorities so that you know where to give yourself leeway to spend more and where you need to force yourself to scale back.

2. Automate your savings

The problem with busting your budget is that it could leave you in a position where you have no money left over for savings. If you don't trust yourself to rein in your spending, you may need to combat that tendency by automating your savings so you don't fall behind.

If you don't have money set aside for emergencies, amassing three to six months' worth of living expenses should be your first goal, in which case you should set up an automatic transfer to your bank. If your emergency fund is solid but you need to work on retirement savings, sign up for your employer's 401(k), where contributions can be deducted automatically from your paychecks. And if your employer doesn't offer such a plan, find an IRA with an automatic savings option and do the same thing. By sending money into savings so that it's not usable, you'll effectively force yourself to spend less on things you can technically live without.

3. Get a side hustle

If you keep failing to stick to your budget, the solution could boil down to boosting your income. But while you can't march into your boss' office and insist on a raise, you can increase your earnings via a side hustle. By bringing home extra cash, you'll have the leeway to spend more in the categories you've been going overboard on without having to worry about racking up debt or missing out on savings opportunities. Of course, you should still rework your budget to reflect what your spending looks like, but this way, you won't necessarily have to force yourself to cut back.

Following a budget is a good thing, but if you constantly exceed yours, it's a sign that something is off. The sooner you get ahead of the problem, the less havoc it will wreak on your finances.

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