7 Things You're Forgetting to Include in your Monthly Budget

Elizabeth S | December 28, 2019

Coming up with (and sticking to) a monthly budget is crucial for anyone who wants to keep a close watch over their finances. Although it’s fairly easy to come up with core categories for each expense and then figure a monthly budget for each, other expenses are always sure to slip through the cracks — leaving some to wonder why their monthly budget never seems to work consistently.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find seven of the most common purchases that tend to be left out of monthly budgets, and what you can do to address it.

1. Periodic Vehicle Expenses

Automobiles can suddenly become huge money pits when something goes wrong. This is one reason that care troubles commonly require people to take out a short-term loan. However, you also need to keep tabs on the periodic expenses for your car that you’ll need to take care of even if it’s running in tip-top shape.

If you’re someone who pays their insurance premiums upfront, the cost for the next one may sneak up on you when the time comes to renew. Car tags, registration, new tires, and oil changes are other examples of vehicle expenses you should account for each year.

2. Subscriptions, Memberships, and Dues

The monthly fees associated with memberships, subscriptions, and dues for the various things you purchase can add up quickly and many people forget to include these when making their monthly budget. Common subscriptions, memberships, and dues you may forget about include:

  • Homeowners association fees
  • Dues to local or national organizations
  • Magazine or newspapers subscriptions
  • Streaming services like Spotify or Netflix
  • Subscription for recurring purchases
  • Amazon Prime memberships
  • App purchases
  • Subscription boxes
  • Meal kits

3. Medications

Prescriptions are often implemented into most monthly budgets, but what about medications that may be needed at the spur of the moment? If you come down with a cold, or one of your kids gets an upset stomach, you’ll likely need to make a run by the drug store to grab a few things. Depending on what the situation is, this can add up, even if you rarely get sick.

4. Pet Care

Pet expenses are one of the most overlooked costs of them all. Regular vaccination updates, grooming, new collars, leashes, and beds, and also the occasional medicine or treatment for when something goes wrong, and even their food — all of these things can put a dent in your budget if you aren’t being mindful of them.

5. Extracurricular Activities for Your Kids

Planning your budget around expenses involving your kids is one of the hardest things to do, even if you’re doing your best to account for everything. One common aspect that tends to sneak past your budget is the cost for extracurricular activities, whether that’s school trips, picture day, fees for membership dues in certain clubs, and so on.

6. Eating Out (and Other Non-Grocery Food Purchases)

When creating a typical monthly budget, food and groceries are almost always a main category (and if not, it should be). The majority of budgets only account for groceries and the occasional lunch at work, with maybe even an allotted amount for restaurants as well.

We can plan all we want, but sometimes there are still going to be those days when it’s just easier to grab some to-go on the way home or order a pizza. The same is true on the days when you’re out running errands or on a break from work and grab a snack from a convenience store. Even if you’re only spending around $5 each time, it’s going to burn a hole through your budget by the end of each month.

7. Clothing and Personal Appearance

Clothing is another prime example of a budget item that can sneak up on you ever now and then. For instance, you may suddenly find yourself in need of a new pair of shoes or have to buy a new dress or shirt and tie for a formal event.

The same is true with things like haircuts, pedicures, and manicures. If you get any of these things every month or two, you should probably be including it in your monthly expenses — even if you do your own nails.

7 things you're forgetting to include in your monthly budget infographic.

How to Build Overlooked Expenses into Your Budget

Addressing and preparing for overlooked expenses doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few easy ways to make sure you’re covered each month:

  • Create a New Budget Line Item - If you have certain expenses that keep popping up each month even though they aren’t accounted for in your current budget, you can either fit them into a budget category and increase the amount (while taking a small amount away from other categories), or create a new line item altogether.
  • Cash Envelopes - With this system, you designate cash for certain budget categories, and keep the corresponding cash in separate envelopes. This allows you to see exactly how much money you have left in each category.
  • Create a Sinking Fund for Miscellaneous Expenses - To make a sinking fund, start by saving a small amount each month for a designated time period, and divide it by how much time is allotted. For instance, if you wanted to have $500 saved up by May for a miscellaneous expense fund, and it’s currently January, that means you’d need to put away $100 each month into the fund. While this is great for being prepared for overlooked expenses, it’s also ideal for planning vacations, large purchases, and so on.

For more helpful tips on saving money, budgeting, and even travel recommendations, be sure to check out more from the Cash Store blog.

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