Budgeting is an essential life skill. It gives you a better understanding of your money, and if done well, it can empower you to achieve financial freedom. And while Debt.com shows that more Americans are budgeting than ever before, there are still some pitfalls that many people encounter when creating their monthly trackers.
It’s important to lay out your essential expenses first. However, AskMoney.com points out how it is easy to miss off less-obvious expenses like discretionary spending on cable, takeout services, or going to the movies. This can easily add up over time, so it’s good to include your projected expenses compared to what you actually spent.
Here are some expenses that are often overlooked and why you should find a way to reflect them in your budget:
Home and auto maintenance repairs
At some point, if you don’t take care of your car, appliances, and home, the maintenance repairs will take care of it for you. These unexpected costs can put a huge dent in your budget when you’re least expecting it, so it’s best to be proactive to avoid costly repairs down the line. Make maintenance checks a minimal expense that you spend on periodically. Ask experts how often these maintenance checks should be performed and budget accordingly. This can save you plenty in the long run, and it will ultimately make it easier to manage your budget.
The list of monthly and annual subscriptions services available continues to increase as more services become available. Whether that’s for entertainment platforms like Netflix or memberships to shops like Costco, these can definitely add up once you get your credit card bill. Include these items while you go through the budgeting process which we talk about in our blog post on iHighFive.com. Know your income first, then list and group your expenses before allocating your money. This should include your subscriptions. It’s easy to overlook these small expenses, but they can add up pretty quickly if you’re not careful.
Takeouts and dining out
While food is a necessity, most of us fall into the trap of spending a bit too much on takeout and deliveries that we don’t need. These expenses are often overlooked in budgets because people try and fail to stick to the amount allotted for groceries. To curb this, CNBC.com details the 50-20-30 rule. It states that essentials should take up 50% of your income, while savings and wants should be 20% and 30% respectively. Groceries fall under essentials, but eating out and satisfying cravings do not. You don’t want to deprive yourself of these small pleasures, so make sure to allot some money for them.
Everybody gets sick at some point. And if you’re living in a household with lots of people, this means that doctor’s visits can multiply quite fast. Additionally, even if you aren’t sick, you still need to have routine check-ups, vaccines, and lab tests. It’s important to understand what your insurance policy covers and which appointments you’ll need to reflect in your budget. Be thorough and consider how much will be required for visits, urgent or emergency care, and prescriptions. It should all be in your budget; chances are you’ll need it at some point.
This one might seem negligible, but pet owners need to cover their furry friend’s expenses in the budget as well. Pets need more than just food or water. They also require regular veterinary care, vaccines, preventive medications, and sometimes even emergency visits. You might even need to cover pet daycare, sitters or even boarding during trips out of town. It’s best to plan in advance for them so that your budget doesn’t suffer.