Just one British adult in four manages to make a budget and then stick to it, new research has found, with women more likely to overspend than men.
One person in three admits to trying to make a budget - but then being caught out, either through unrealistic expectations or by giving in to temptation.
"The twin ideas of budgeting and thrift seem almost lost to history; and while over half of us claim to work to a budget, most are unable to stick to it in the face of temptation," said David Elms of IFA Promotion, which commissioned the survey.
And the research found that 61 per cent of women who do make a budget fail to stick to it, compared with 49 per cent of men.
Additionally, 14 per cent of UK adults have never tried to make a budget, with one in 20 giving up altogether on trying to control their spending.
"People are increasingly living hand to mouth and storing up trouble for the future. It should take about an hour to note down regular income and outgoings and to identify what you can and cannot afford. If you need further help taking financial control and planning for the future, sitting down with an independent financial adviser is a great place to start," noted Mr Elms.
IFA Promotion also looked into who was budgeting and the influences on how they plan their money.
It discovered that those on low incomes are half as likely to make plans for how they will handle their finances, with just one person on a low income in nine using a budget.
Partners or spouses are the most likely people to influence our spending habits, with eight out of ten married men financially under the thumb.
And the older you get the more likely you are to budget, with over-55s three times as likely to stick successfully to a budget than under-25s. However, a third of young people believe they will have to start budgeting soon.