Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone over your budget? If you haven’t, you’re surely the exception to the rule! Budgeting is challenging, especially when there are missing budget categories! In this week's blog, we are taking a closer look at the most commonly forgotten budget items.
1. Car Expenses
You have likely included your car payment in the budget, but have you remembered things like registration, insurance, tolls, parking, windshield wipers, your driver’s licence, fines, and regular visits to the mechanic (including new tires when needed)?
2. Children’s Activities
You are probably including the music and sports lessons, club and school fees in the budget, but what about things like replacement shoes, uniforms, concerts and club nights?
3. Pet Expenses
If your pet gets sick the last thing you want is to not have the money to help them. Add an allowance for your pets to your budget. Consider vet bills, new toys, the cost to put your dog in a kennel to name a few – you won’t be sorry.
4. Gifts & Events
Birthdays, weddings, baby showers, buck’s nights, anniversaries, going away parties, Christmas… Make an allowance so you don’t have to scrimp on when the time to party inevitably comes!
5. Annual Payments
Often forgotten because they come but once per year. Memberships, insurance policies, etc. Include them month to month so the money is there when the bills arrive.
6. Household Maintenance
Winter is suddenly upon us – does the heater work? Does the aircon need servicing? Is the tap leaking? Have tiles been broken? Trees need cutting back? Do you need pest control? So many things to remember, make a household maintenance allowance so the cost of these repairs doesn’t come all at once.
7. Haircuts & Colour
They're supposed to happen every six weeks, but this doesn’t always happen. If you’re fond of getting your hair coloured, cut and blow waved and if your children need regular cut, then save some money each week to be put aside for haircuts.
8. Guests Visiting
If you often have out-of-town visitors come to stay, make sure you consider how much extra this costs and allocate it in your budget. Laundry, electricity, and food will all increase during these times.
9. Medical Bills & Health Insurance
You would hate for it to happen – the stress of an illness or accident with the added worry of having to pay the medical bills. Make sure you keep some money aside for these moments. Also, don’t forget about ongoing medication, general first aid, check-ups, health insurance, optometrist costs and the general costs of maintaining your good health (think vitamins and gym memberships).
Doing fun things is what life is about, so don’t forget to budget enough for them. Trips to the movies, eating out, events, concerts, and shows – they are some of the most enjoyable things we do, so always include them. Not to mention, the costs of alcohol and even throwing a dinner party or barbeque at home!
11. School and Office Supplies
There always seems to be more things needed at short notice for school, so keep a fund for these moments. Ran out of pens? Desperately need printer ink? All out of sticky notes? Got no more paper? Stock up on stationery at the start of the year when the sales are on to save you the “mum, I need a new exercise book, now!” or the stress of trying to print an important document on a deadline!
12. Clothes (Especially for Special Occasions)
If your company has formal occasions from time to time or you get invited to formal events like weddings, most likely you will need to purchase clothes. Sometimes, they can come unannounced, so it’s best to keep a budget for them.
13. Supplies for Hobbies
If you have hobbies, like crafts, painting, photography, reading or cooking, you might need to purchase supplies from time to time. Some of them can be expensive, so make sure to add this sneaky category to your budget.
Everybody uses tech, but quite often we forget that we need to budget for it! Things like gadgets, computers, laptops, printers, TV’s, home appliances and mobile phones – whilst durable, don’t last forever – so to replace them can be expensive. Also consider the ongoing costs of subscription services and software.
15. Travel & Public Transport
It’s a necessary expense that tends to pop up when we least expect it – whether this be a spontaneous trip away, a wedding or a funeral. Budgeting for airfares in advance can save you the stress of worrying and leaving the booking until it’s too late! (Fact: airlines set the price of seats according to how many are left. The more seats left on a flight, the cheaper it will be). Meanwhile, you might not catch a train or bus that often, but it’s better to be financially prepared than have to dip into your other budget buckets!
16. Professional Costs - Registration, Licensing Costs and Union Fees
Some professional societies have an annual membership fee to maintain registration. This could be an important ongoing expense for many working professionals. And we’ll throw this one in there too – how about the cost of doing a work wardrobe update!
17. Financial Assistance
You might have loved ones who need money, and you need to lend some to them, or friends who need to have immediate financial assistance like hospital emergencies. Donations count here too.
There might be more unforeseen expenses not included in the list above. But if you keep this list as a reference, at least you can minimise surprises. Don’t forget the bits and pieces – they could be the difference between being debt free or not.
Budgeting can feel overwhelming, but being aware of those hidden costs makes it much more manageable. While you may still go over budget sometimes, at least there won't be as many surprises! Remembering all the incidentals takes diligence, but is worth it for financial peace of mind.
If you're struggling with debt due to an overloaded budget, contact our friendly experts at Credit Counsellors Australia. Our qualified team can provide customised debt relief solutions for different types of debts, from credit cards to personal loans and mortgages.