It’s no secret you need a budget, but if you’ve left off some key items, it’s not really going to do you much good.
Here are 10 items you might be overlooking.
If you happen to belong to Amazon Prime, you have an annual membership fee of $99. You should include that and other memberships and subscriptions like magazines, gym memberships, etc. Determine the monthly cost (divide the total by 12 if it’s an annual charge) and make sure you are saving that amount each and every month. You may even want to include the annual fees for any credit cards you have as well. (They’re often a feature of rewards credit cards.)
As a parent, I never forget that my kids need clothes, however, it is easy to forget about my own needs. If you’re like me, you’ll want to remind yourself and account for necessities like undergarments and socks in your budget. And try to prepare for unexpected items as well. As soon as you buy a new pair of sneakers for your oldest, your youngest will suddenly hit a growth spurt and you’ll be out shopping for him too.
To determine the amount to save, look at your total spending over the past 12 to18 months. That will give you an idea of what you spend annually and how much you may need to pay for the expenses this year.
3. Special Occasions
Holidays, anniversaries and birthdays….they come around again every single year, so make sure to include them in your budget. You will also want to look ahead for one-time events like a wedding (which may require travel costs as well as a gift). In order to determine the amount to save, take a look at what you spent the prior year. Then, divide the total spent by 12 to get a monthly budget amount.
4. Fun Money
You work hard for your money, so you should treat yourself to something special every now and then. It might mean a latte on the way to work or even that new book you’ve been wanting to read.
Don’t suffocate under the stress of your budget. Allow some room to have a little fun every now and again. When you do, you will find it easier to stay on budget with your other expenses.
5. Pet Expenses
Don’t forget to include the four-legged family members. Your pet needs food. He or she may need grooming monthly. There are also annual visits to your vet along with vaccinations. You may also need to board your pet during your family vacation. Just add in a “PET” line to your budget so you aren’t caught having to cover expenses above what is budgeted.
6. Irregular Bills
There may be some bills that come around quarterly or annually. Make sure to include these in your budget. Use the simple formula of dividing the total you owe by 12 to reach the amount to set aside each month.
You probably remembered your monthly car payment, but did you add in fuel costs? What about oil changes and new tires? It is a simple item to forget about, but always budget for the routine maintenance needed to keep your car running.
8. Home Maintenance
Each spring you know you will replace the mulch in the garden. When winter rolls around, you will get the furnace serviced to ensure it works properly. Are these items on your budget? It is important to plan for the expenses you know about as well as those that will creep up when you least expect them.
If you plan on taking a vacation, it is important that you include it in your budget. The amount should take into account fuel, hotel, food, venues, etc.
10. Medical Expenses
You know that you have to pay for your insurance. You may even have a savings plan at work to help cover the out-of-pocket expenses. But, what about the items that are not covered? Do you need new glasses? Is your monthly medication covered? Make sure you are setting money aside each month to cover these.
Your budget is your road map to financial success. There are bound to be some detours, but if you can plan ahead, you can make sure you follow an alternative track and still achieve your goals.
You may also want to monitor your credit for signs of changes, especially if you’re budgeting because you’re trying to save up for a big purchase like a car or a home. Both of those purchases normally require a credit check (if you don’t pay cash), and building good credit beforehand can save you money in interest over the life of your loan. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
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