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Commonly Forgotten Monthly Expenses

by Amanda Hicks

Remember to include these items in your monthly budget

According to Gallup®, only one in three Americans keep a detailed monthly budget. Even if you're part of that one in three, budgets can still sometimes fail if you don't consider all of your expenses part of the plan. Monthly expenses we tend to automatically include are:
 
  • Rent/mortgage
  • Homeowners association fees
  • Utilities, the phone bill
  • Car loans
  • Medical insurance, pet insurance payments
  • Groceries, including toiletries and cleaning supplies
  • Student loan payments
  • Daycare fees, pet sitting/walking fees
  • Gym memberships
  • Credit card payments
 But wait, there’s more!

Commonly forgotten expenses

While many of the following often-forgotten items may not be paid monthly, they are inevitable and should be part of your budget planning. That way, you don’t have to scramble to pay for them by dipping into your emergency fund.
 
  • Home maintenance: Mulch, lawn care/landscaping fees, gardening costs, roof and HVAC inspections, gutter cleaning, snow removal, carpet cleaning.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Transportation/vehicle maintenance: Driver’s license renewals; car insurance, inspection, and registration; gas; new tires, including alignment fees; new windshield wipers; new brakes (estimated to be $300 to $800 according to autozone.com); oil changes; AAA membership fees; road tolls; bus passes; parking fees.
  • Medical expenses: Prescriptions, dental cleanings, annual checkup, eye exams, and glasses/contacts.
  • Emergency fund: Saving for an emergency fund will help you to avoid a financial crisis. Make sure emergency fund is one of your line items.
  • Taxes, if you pay your own: County, local, property (school) taxes, and income taxes.
  • Pet fund: If you have pets, you know where we’re going with this one: checkups, vaccines, pet food, kenneling fees, kitty litter, bedding.
  • Gifts/donations: Holiday/birthday gifts, wedding/shower gifts, charitable donations.
  • Membership fees
  • Groceries: While this one is listed above, consider food deliveries, including tips; shopping service fees; vitamins/supplements; wine/beer.
  • Professional expenses: Professional license renewals, required continuing education courses associated with some professional licenses.
  • Home office supplies: Toner, paper, stamps, shipping supplies, software subscription fees.
  • Entertainment and hobbies: Concert tickets, sporting events, zoo/museum/aviary visits, boat rides, dining out meals, extracurricular lessons (dance, karate, art, etc.), crafting or art supplies, gaming equipment/passes, the occasional ice cream cone.
  • Wardrobe, including shoes: This one is especially important if you have growing children. Plus, dry cleaning fees, laundromat expenses, formal events attire for personal or company gatherings.
  • School: Supplies, lunches, sports physicals, tuition, teachers’ gifts.
  • Large purchases: Start to save for these as soon as you know they’re going to be needed: new car, new furnace, new roof, new appliance, new flooring, bathroom or kitchen remodels, new furniture, new electronics.
  • Vacation: Tickets/gas, lodging, meals, tour fees, souvenirs, pet sitting costs.
 
For many people, a budget appears to be a spending limit. But that’s nearsighted. If we focus on future rewards instead, we can call a budget our Goal Realization Plan (GRP). So, the next time your friends suggest grabbing lunch at a restaurant you don’t really like anyway, suggest a hike instead. Tell them you’re working on your GRP. They’ll laugh, but they’ll gain a whole new respect for you. They might even go home and make their own budget. Just be sure to share this list!
 
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