12 commonly overlooked expenses
that are ruining your budget
Drafting a picture-perfect budget is only half the battle if you want to keep your spending in check. Following the rules is the other half, and that can be a bit challenging if you underestimate expenses or forget to incorporate a few pieces of the puzzle in your spending plan.
Here are some commonly overlooked expenses that can be causing you to throw in the towel on your budget each month:
1. Auto maintenance and repairs
If visits to the dealership frighten you as much as they used to frighten me, I can understand why you may avoid visiting for routine maintenance. But at some point, if you don’t take care of your car, it won’t take care of you. So be proactive in order to avoid costly repairs down the road.
And if a major problem is brought to your attention, don’t ignore it. Instead, get a second and perhaps third opinion, and make arrangements to have it taken care of.
2. Children’s extracurricular activities
This expense used to get me every time, until I started using a calendar to plan out my children’s extracurricular activities. That way, I could set aside the funds needed to pay up when the amounts were due and even take advantage of the early registration discount.
The same rules apply to family fun in my household; we typically plan ahead and are always on the lookout for cheap or free fun.
Check out “14 Ways to Have More Fun for Less Money” for ideas.
3. Pet care
Furry friends have needs, too. And sometimes, they aren’t as cheap as you think. So don’t forget to factor in the costs of routine care as well as doctor visits. Also, take a look at “28 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Pet Supplies.”
4. Irregular expenses
Are you responsible for obligations payable quarterly, semiannually or annually? If so, it’s best to divide the total by 12 to get the monthly amount and store the funds away so you won’t be caught off guard. This is common for homeowner association fees, alarm fees and subscription dues. If your HOA fee is $300 quarterly, $100 should automatically be set aside each month to take care of the expense when it arises.
5. Special events
Your lifelong friend has decided to tie the knot next month, or your child’s friend from school is having a birthday bash. Do you have the funds on hand to cover the travel costs or go out and purchase a gift, or will you have to borrow from another category of your spending plan to make it happen?
If it’s the latter, you have two options: respectfully decline or bury yourself in debt for their enjoyment. I know tons of people who have chosen to bite the bullet and then spend several months playing catch-up.
6. Health insurance
Unless there’s no co-pay or deductible associated with your plan, you’ll have to pay for services if you fall ill or need treatment. And depending on the magnitude of the services rendered, you could be forced to fork over a hefty sum of cash. You can either go into debt and pay interest, or you can plan ahead and have money set aside.
7. Road trips
You try your best to abide by a stringent gas budget, but do you have blow money set aside to cover an extra tank? Or what if you need to make a quick trip to tend to important business or check on a loved one?
8. Service calls
At one point in my life (when I’d recently gotten over a financial rough patch), I was a money hoarder because I feared going back down the same road. But that all began to change when we bought a costly appliance and opted out of the extended warranty to save money.
While I do agree that some service plans are overrated and overpriced, this one would have been a godsend and saved us hundreds of dollars when the appliance suddenly stopped working.
9. Residential emergencies
What happens when you have a water leak or your air conditioning unit stalls, just to name a few? We dealt with the latter a few months back and, while the cost of the repair wasn’t much, luckily we had been saving funds for home repairs to cover the bill.
10. Utility consumption
In the months when temperatures reach extreme lows, you may crank up the thermostat to stay comfy and wind up overextending your budget. A better alternative: Find more cost-efficient options, as we discuss in “15 Low- and No-Cost Ways to Reduce Your Winter Energy Bill.”
So, you decided to stop by the bagel shop to grab a bite to eat because you were running behind schedule, or to take a co-worker up on an offer to have lunch. If you don’t have the funds available for extras, another category of your budget will take a hit, leaving you scrambling to sort out the mess at the end of the month.
12. Random emergencies
No matter how hard you try to stick to a spending plan, emergencies have a way of happening at the most inopportune times. Sometimes the expenses are minor and can be covered by the small slush fund that’s in your spending plan. And other times, you really have to fork over the dough from your emergency fund.
This article was originally published on MoneyTalksNews.com as ’12 Commonly Overlooked Expenses That Are Ruining Your Budget’.