The mail comes and there’s a bill you’d forgotten was coming. How can this be? You have a budget!
But sometimes we spend so much time focusing on the day-to-day tracking of expenses when we budget that we forget to plan for the larger, irregular expenses that pop up.
7 Things You Might Miss When Budgeting
When setting a budget, it’s easy to remember the basics: Food, shelter, medical care, utilities, transportation, clothing, and of course, fun. But it can be easy to forget to budget for these items:
- Car insurance and license fees
- Home insurance and property taxes (if they’re not escrowed with your mortgage)
- Activities for the kids (school expenses and activities, lessons, summer camps)
- Holidays and birthdays
- Maintenance (taking care of your home, car and health)
- Family travel (vacations, weddings, and reunions)
We forget to budget for these items because they don’t come up all that often. And let’s face it, they’re pretty boring. Those forgotten items can really throw a wrench in your finances. It’s far better to work them into your budget before that bill arrives in your mailbox.
Start by looking through last year’s bank statements and credit card statements to see what you spent each month. Write down the expenses like car insurance and special events on a calendar so you can visualize what bills are due and when they are due.
Review those expenses and estimate how much money you should set aside each month for them. Then build those amounts right into your monthly budget. If you find your budget is tight, you’ll need to figure out ways to bring in extra income or cut expenses in other areas. Some people find it helpful to set up a separate bank account specifically for these types of expenses. You can have the money automatically deposited from your paycheck into the account each month so that it’s ready for you when the bills arrive.
If you happen to notice that you have a lot of major bills or expenses come up in a specific month, see if you can change your payment schedule to spread the expenses out more evenly throughout the year.
Tuck away a portion of any extra money that enters your life. Whenever you get a windfall – whether it is bonus at work or a tax refund – be sure to put some of it in savings for emergencies and not-so-frequent expenses.
Once those expenses are part of your budget, you won’t dread opening your mailbox. You’ll feel relief knowing that the money is in the bank.