15 Common Missing Budget Items
When putting together a budget most people begin by including their bills, such as mortgage and car payments, grocery costs, perhaps even the cost of their annual vacation.
But only base your budget on your monthly bills and grocery costs and you may be left wondering why your budget never works out. That’s because you’re forgetting incidentals. You know, those unexpected expenses that crop up every month that you never seem to plan for.
It’s easy to write a budget that you think is perfect until you’re 5 days in and you realize you forgot to add another expense to your budget. When these forgotten budget items are missing from your budget, suddenly budgeting feels impossible.
If you feel like giving up and throwing in the towel, you are not alone. We’ve been there. One of the biggest reasons you’re blowing your budget is because you aren’t creating a realistic budget.
When a budget isn’t realistic, it is usually because you’re not budgeting enough money for a budget category or you’re leaving a category out of your budget altogether.
Wet yourself up for success and budget and make sure these 15 missing budget items are in your monthly budget.
It can be easy to overlook gift-giving when you sit down to write your monthly budget. So often I would sit down, write out what I thought was a flawless budget, and then realize I had forgotten about a gift I needed for an upcoming event.
Keep track of these dates and reference them when you sit down to build your budget:
- Birthday Gifts
- Anniversary Gifts
- Graduation Gifts
- Christmas Gifts
- End of the Year Teacher Gifts
- Valentine’s Day Gifts
- Mother’s Day Gifts
- Father’s Day Gifts
Even better, set up a gift-giving sinking fund! This allows you to save money (even $20 each month goes a long way) and cover the cost of gifts when they come up.
2. Car Maintenance
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here it is … cars break. They are not built to last forever.
They require oil changes, tire replacements, registration costs, etc. not to mention ALL the Construction going on, Nails Nails Nails. You feel my pain. If you put a set amount of money each month into a car maintenance sinking fund, then you can offset (or completely cover) these costs when they arrive, it does help take the edge off the cost.
To stay ahead of surprise car bills, it’s always a good thing to ask your trusted mechanic about any upcoming maintenance your car needs along with a price estimate. This will help alleviate the surprise of upcoming maintenance bills.
3. Entertainment Money
Just because you want to save more and spend less doesn’t mean that you have to skip out on entertainment entirely. So many people think that when you are on a budget that you can’t have any fun. Truthfully, you can have a lot of fun, but you have to plan it out. Consider setting aside some money each month to do something fun with your family and friends.
4. Medical Bills
Are you overlooking any upcoming doctor’s or dentist’s appointments? Copays and deductibles can get expensive and can be a strain on a budget if you are unprepared. Before you sit down to make your budget, check your calendar for any scheduled appointments.
Don’t hesitate to call the doctor’s office in advance to determine the amount that you will be charged. Preparation leads to success!
Clothes don’t last forever. Seasons change and children will need new clothes for school.
Just because you are living on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t have new clothes. Anticipate the need and plan for the cost.
When it comes to buying a lot of clothes at once (like back-to-school clothes) think about budgeting the cost over several months to help spread out the large expense. You can even set up a sinking fund to help you cover most (if not all) of the costs of the new clothes.
Don’t get caught off guard by yearly memberships or subscriptions. Many times, these memberships are on autopay, and you don’t even realize they are due until the money has already been taken out of your account! (I’m speaking for experience here!)
I recommend that you keep a list of your annual memberships with their renewal date in your budget binder so you can reference them often.
Common memberships & subscriptions to check:
- Wholesale Club (like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s Wholesale Club)
- Amazon Prime
- Monthly Subscription Boxes (like razors, beauty boxes, kids boxes, and pet boxes)
7. Home Maintenance
Having a home can be expensive, but these expenses don’t have to catch you off guard. Home maintenance costs are a common item missing from many people’s budget.
Not only is there always a possibility of big items breaking, but there is also a lot of maintenance that comes with purchasing a home.
From replacing filters to keeping the yard outside mowed and trimmed, the costs can pile up. Don’t forget to budget each month for necessary fixes. Including home maintenance costs in your budget will help you keep your home and budget in line.
8. Holiday Extras
During my first year of getting my finances back on track, I always failed to plan for the “extras” around each holiday. Christmas cards and pictures with St. Nick add up. And I don’t know if you bought candy last year for Halloween, but those bags are not cheap!
Valentine’s flowers cost money too and the Easter bunny doesn’t bring eggs for free.
Don’t overlook these extra expenses! To make budgeting for these extra expenses easy, sit down and think through everything you’ll do for next holiday. In your mind, walk through what you’ll be doing, eating, and visiting. This will help you catch any budget items you might be missing.
You can try to do them yourselves but remember, you are not a professional and may end up having to go to the Salon or Barber anyway.
Are you forgetting to factor in the cost of hosting overnight guests? You will likely buy extra food for breakfast and snacks as well as use extra electricity and water.
It all adds up and should be accounted for. Plan for an increase in your grocery budget this month and an increase in your utility bills next month.
11. Personal Spending Money
One of the best hacks to stay on budget is to remember to add personal money to your budget. A lot of people feel like they shouldn’t budget for personal money (especially if they’re in a lot of debt), but everyone needs to have this category in their budget.
When you budget for personal money, you don’t feel like you’re being deprived of spending money on yourself. Personal spending money allows you to spend on whatever you want, no questions asked.
It’s important to remember that deprivation leads to burnout. Spending money helps you live on a budget and not deprive yourself of what you want at the same time.
A lot of people always ask me how much to budget for this category.
That depends on your personal choice, your income, and your money goals. If you’re trying to pay off your debt fast, you may want to have a smaller amount for this category.
12. Kid’s Expenses
Kid’s expenses can add up quickly. You can easily get nickeled and dimed with your kid’s expenses.
Common expenses for kids:
- Field Trips
- School Lunches & Snacks
- Misc School Fees (T-shirts, Yearbooks, Fundraisers, Book Fairs, etc)
- Summer Camps
- Sports Fees
Check your kid’s school and extracurricular calendars before you write your budget for your next pay period.
13. Vacation Fund
If you plan on taking a vacation, you need to add it to your budget. This is another common sinking fund category. Even if you’re traveling on a budget or having a staycation, you can add it to your budget.
Just figure out what you want your budget to be and divide by the number of months until your vacation. That’s how much you need to save in your sinking fund.
14. Pet Expenses
If you have an older pet or one with medical needs, you need a pet fund. Vet bills can get expensive quickly (especially if you don’t have pet insurance). You don’t want to be caught off guard not being able to pay for your pet’s medicine or surgery.
15. A Buffer In Your Budget
One of the MOST common expenses or items missing from a budget is also the most important…a buffer. Your buffer category will help absorb the cost of smaller unexpected expenses that come up.
Ultimately, it helps you from dipping into your savings or worrying about over drafting from your checking account.
A buffer can be sued to cover small unexpected expenses like a field trip your child forgot to tell you about until the last minute. It can also cover the cost of variable bills that you didn’t know would be higher. For instance, if your electricity bill is $125.00 but you only budgeted $105.00…your buffer can cover this cost!
The buffer category is usually about $100 per month or pay period. Choose a buffer amount that you are comfortable with and add it to your budget.