5 Big Budget Mistakes to Avoid

Lacking a system and failing to track your money are among the top mistakes.

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Do you know where your money went? If you just got paid but your bank account is empty, maybe it's time to rethink your budgeting skills. Fixing the big budget blunders is not hard to do—you just have to want to do it! Here are five reasons why your budget is broken, and the ways to fix it.

[In Pictures: 12 Money Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes]

Mistake 1: You don't have a system. Is your filing system a mess of envelopes scattered throughout the house? When your budget is blowing from room to room and you're confusing last year's grocery receipts with this month's food bill, it's time to try a better system.

The Fix: There are numerous ways to build a better budget. There are spreadsheets, software, and mobile phone apps to get the job done with less pain and more success. Download this free budget spreadsheet or check out these 6 Free Budget Software Choices for Everyone and pick your favorite option. You may just find your fortune.

Mistake 2: You don't honestly track your spending. You spent how much at the mall last week? If you're fudging your numbers before entering them in your budget, it's impossible to make everything balance.

The Fix: Tracking the money you spend and earn may sound like work, but it's easy to do when you save all your receipts and paycheck stubs. When you're on the go, enter your expenses in a mobile device, or carry a notebook. The idea is to track your cash, credit card, and debit card purchases to identify the costly culprits.

Mistake 3: You don't make it a habit. Old habits are hard to break, right? Well, ditching your budget after a few tries is a surefire way to fail. Building a solid household budget takes practice, and giving up after a week is a common reason for failure.

The Fix: To get back on track, give yourself the chance to succeed by setting aside time each week to track the flow of money into and out of your life. Only after several weeks of practice will you get into the habit and be able to update your accounts quickly.

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Mistake 4: You don't have an emergency fund. There are exceptional people out there who never get sick, never lose their jobs, and never need a car repair. Lucky ducks, but I bet you're not one of them. When bad things happen to good people, chances are you'll need money to get through the tough times. And maxing out your credit cards or running up your credit limit can put you in a bad financial situation, leaving your budget broken.

The Fix: Add some wiggle room to your budget by starting a modest emergency fund. You probably don't need to save tens of thousands of dollars to protect yourself from life's gotchas -- a modest amount should keep you safe and prevent you from tapping your plastic when times are tough. See How to Start an Emergency Fund on any Budget for some helpful hints.

Mistake 5: Your spouse hates budgeting. Do you argue about money with your partner, spouse, or significant other? You're not alone. Fighting about money is a common practice in households across America, and can lead to bitter breakups that bust the bank.

The Fix: When he's a spender and she's a saver (or vice versa) it's time to calmly chat together. Set aside 15 minutes each week to discuss the current money situation and work together to set a few financial goals and to calculate your net worth. Lay no blame and make a commitment to work together to get through the mess. Download these free 3 Financial Goals Worksheets and try this simple Household Net Worth Spreadsheet to get on the same page with your spouse.

Kerry K. Taylor writes at Squawkfox.com, a blog where personal finance and frugal living are sexy, delicious, and fun. Kerry is the author of 397 Ways To Save Money: Spend Smarter & Live Well on Less.