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 challenging if you underestimate expenses or forget to incorporate a few important pieces of the puzzle into your spending plan.
Below are some commonly overlooked expenses that can cause you to throw in the towel on your budget each month.
1. Auto maintenance and repairs
At some point, if you don’t take care of your car, it won’t take care of you. So, be proactive to avoid costly repairs down the road.
If a mechanic brings a major problem to your attention, don’t ignore it. Instead, get a second and perhaps a third opinion. Then, take care of it.
Take a look at “11 Keys to Finding a Car Mechanic You Can Trust” if you’re in need of a reputable mechanic.
2. Children’s extracurricular activities
Use a calendar to plan out your children’s extracurricular activities for the year. That way, you can set aside the funds needed to pay up when the amounts come due.
The same rules apply to family fun. Plan ahead and always remain on the lookout for cheap or free fun.
3. Pet care
Furry friends have needs, too. And sometimes, those needs aren’t as cheap as you think. So, don’t forget to factor in the costs of routine care as well as doctor visits.
4. Regular fees
Are you responsible for obligations payable quarterly or annually? If so, it’s best to divide the quarterly payment by three or the annual payment by 12 to figure out a monthly amount. Then, set aside the necessary funds each month so you won’t be caught off-guard when the payments come due.
Examples of such expenses include homeowner association fees and subscriptions. 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
Say your lifelong friend has decided to tie the knot, or one of your child’s friends from school is having a birthday bash. Do you have the funds on hand to cover the cost of buying a bridesmaid’s gown or to purchase a gift?
If not, you may have to borrow to make it happen, or decline to attend. Or, you can budget money for special events so you’re covered when one pops up.
6. Health care
Monthly premiums for health insurance can be expensive, and that’s before copays and deductibles.
To cover these costs, you can either go into debt and pay interest, or plan ahead and have money set aside.
For more help, check out “7 Ways Anyone Can Cut Their Health Care Costs.”
7. Road trips
Do you have money set aside to cover an extra tank of gas if you need it? You never know when you’ll need to make a quick trip to tend to important business, or to check on a loved one.
8. Service calls
The water heater can suddenly die, or your furnace may go on the fritz. So, make sure you tuck away money for such unpredictable failures.
When temperatures outside reach extreme lows (or highs), you might crank up (or down) the thermostat to stay comfy and end up overextending your budget for utility payments.
A better alternative is to find more cost-efficient options. In fact, avoiding boneheaded moves such as pushing the heat or air conditioning into high gear can save you a bundle. For more, check out “22 Mistakes That Send Energy Bills Soaring.”
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