28 Things You Might Be Forgetting to Include in Your Budget

People make budgeting mistakes. Get your budget on track, put your money in the right place, start debt payoff and sinking funds the right way.

Budgeting is a confusing thing, especially when you’re not used to it. When you’re just getting started it’s super easy to make a mistake and then completely give up even trying. Don’t do it! Instead, just try and be a little bit better prepared by knowing what you should be including in your budget! Here is a list of 28 things that I personally have forgotten to budget for and I want to make sure you remember.

*This post contains affiliate links through which I may make a commission. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

1. Out to eat expenses

Most of the world goes out to eat, but not everyone budgets for it. Here are some common mistakes when planning out to eat expenses:

  • Underestimate how much you spend going out to eat
  • Don’t budget for it at all (optimistically hoping you won’t)

To make sure you are correctly budgeting for out to eat expenses, review your previous numbers over the last few months. This will give you a solid idea of your actual out to eat expenses. That way you can be better prepared in the coming months.

2. Entertainment

Sometimes, especially if we are in the middle of paying off debt, we forget to allow ourselves to actually have fun.

If you love going to the movies or trying new adventures with friends, be sure to include these things in your budget. Even if you are all grown up and have a family of your own, make sure to allow wiggle room for you guys to hit up a waterpark or go bowling on Friday nights

3. Date night

If you are married, I hope you know this category is meant for you! I’m sure single people also need to budget for these…but it goes double if you’re in a long-term relationship.

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to make sure you are spending quality time together with your spouse. It could be $25 for a few burgers twice a month. Just make sure you’re planning for it.

Planning for date nights is planning for your marriage to thrive. It needs to make the budget.

People make budgeting mistakes. Get your budget on track, put your money in the right place, start debt payoff and sinking funds the right way.
Allow yourself funds to go out and enjoy life.

4. Little splurges

Are you someone who likes to get some gourmet coffee on occasion? Maybe you scoop up a candy bar and an energy drink whenever you get gas. If so, make some room in the budget for these items.

So often we ignore small purchases under $5 and don’t realize just how much they add up.

5. Clothing

You might not need clothes every month (or maybe you do–that’s cool), but don’t forget to allow some funds for it! Even if you just do $5 into Sinking Funds with every paycheck, having a good clothing budget started can remove a lot of stress when it’s time to get some new threads.

6. Car tabs

Raise your hand if that month comes around and you groan because you have to find the money for car tabs. Confession: we used to have to charge this!!

When you have a recurring expense like car tabs, make sure to include it in your budget. If you want, you can make a note and plan for it the month you know you need them, or you can remove small amounts with every paycheck so that when it’s time to renew your tabs, you already have the money on hand!

7. Birthday gifts

I used to groan whenever my daughter would tell me she had a birthday party invite. Even worse when she would get 3 in one month! Getting presents really add up quickly! Which is why it’s a good thing to remember to include in your monthly budget.

Personally, I think $20 per month is a good guesstimate. This way, if you have months with no gifts, you’re in the clear and you’ve got a little nest-egg built up for the months that surprise you!

8. Groceries

Yeah. Ok. So I used to not budget for groceries! I would make sure we could pay our bills and then I saw the rest of the money as a free-for-all.

Unfortunately, I would spend most of it on groceries, because I had no real plan or grocery budget laid out. This was a major part of the reason I never noticed we were living above our means for so long.

Not sure how much to spend on groceries? Here is our family’s $100 per week grocery budget plan.

People make budgeting mistakes. Get your budget on track, put your money in the right place, start debt payoff and sinking funds the right way.
Having a plan for your grocery spending will help you escape the paycheck to paycheck cycle every month.

9. Gas

Gas expenses was another budgeting mistake I made. Simply taking a moment to tally up how much you have spent the last 2 months in gas will give you a good idea of how much money you should be budgeting for each month.

When you do this, keep in mind the ever-changing gas prices. If they start to climb (which they will) it might be time to re-evaluate your gas budget.

10. Big holidays

Christmas comes every year I think, right? Make sure to plan for it! Well, if you don’t celebrate Christmas don’t plan for it. But, any major holidays that you celebrate that come around year after year that you spend money on…plan for them!

Again, add this to your budget as a sinking fund so that when the time comes you are less stressed around your holiday spending.

11. Emergencies

Emergencies are another consistent inconsistency you can plan on in your life. You won’t know when they strike, make sure you are prepared for them. Build yourself at least a $1,000 emergency fund and contribute to it every single month! Learn how to save $1,000 fast and open up a savings account that pays you to save!

12. Memberships and subscriptions

There are a few membership and subscription type budget items that get overlooked. Things like:

  • Bank fees
  • Expired free trials
  • Small membership expenses

Sometimes our banks get a little sneaky on us out of nowhere and you might be getting charged without realizing it! Be sure to keep an eye on your recent transactions so that you are fully aware of any fees that might be trying to fly under the radar.

Have you ever signed up for a FREE trial and then totally forgot about it? Occasionally, it’s good to go through your recent bank transactions to check for unknown (or forgotten about) membership and subscription fees.

There are small membership expenses (like my $1 per month Acorns membership). Often times these are the ones that get overlooked and ignored. However, like I mentioned before, these small fees can add up really quickly if we overlook several of them. Be sure to pencil them into your budget so it doesn’t throw off your totals.

People make budgeting mistakes. Get your budget on track, put your money in the right place, start debt payoff and sinking funds the right way.

13. Yearly Fees

There are things to be aware of like yearly fees that you might be paying. This could be things like your property taxes or a fee on a credit card if you are into credit card hacking.

Be sure to write down these fees and prepare for them in advance.

14. Pet care

If you are buying food for your dogs, getting their nails trimmed or buying pills for heartworm etc, make sure you are adding in a pet care section of your budget.

This is something I used to include in my grocery budget, but separating dogs food from human food is always a better idea!

15. Minor house upkeeps

Do you change your air filters, water softener pellets, or even switch out your perennials? Including a house budget, every month for these smaller fixes is a good idea to help you from feeling frenzied when you have to find the spare money in the budget.

16. Large purchases

Then there are those bigger purchases like a new roof, a new car, and heck, maybe the downpayment on a new house!

Don’t forget about those large life purchases that you have planned!

17. Vacation

I don’t know about you, but vacation is a top priority for me. If you like getting away to the cabin every summer or try to enjoy a big family getaway every few years, why not set up vacation savings? CapitalOne360 has awesome interest rates and is super easy to set up! Apply online!

People make budgeting mistakes. Get your budget on track, put your money in the right place, start debt payoff and sinking funds the right way.
Make getting away every now and then a top budget priority.

18. Retirement

So many people are skipping out on retirement it’s insane (and super unfortunate). In doing so, they are most likely missing on on free money from their company!

Even if you don’t have a 401K through your current job, you can easily set up an IRA through your bank and now through the Acorns app!

19. Small car maintenance

Just like you should be keeping up on small upgrades for your home, you should be doing the same for your car.

Oil changes, tire rotations, new windshield wipers. These are all basic upkeeps that cars need to undergo. You can be savvy and plan for the months when you’ll need to do these updates, or just set aside a small amount every month to always be prepared.

20. Sick days

Sometimes you’ll have PTO, sometimes you won’t. If you go into a panic mode when you have to take time off work, it might be a good idea to plan ahead for these times.

Open a savings account where you can stash funds to help ensure you’re OK should you need to take time off work. This could be included in your emergency fund, but is definitely something worth remembering to plan for.

21. Bonus income

Whether you are into side hustling or have been selling stuff online, most people are quick to spend any bonus income they bring in.

Instead, make sure to include this in your budget, even if you just budget it right to fun money, sometimes it helps to slow down and really assess all of the places where this money might serve you well.

22. Debt

If you are not in the process of debt payoff, it might be something worth considering. Even just budgeting an additional $100 toward debt every month can make a significant change in how quickly you are able to get out of debt.

23. School fees

If your kids are in school (or heck, maybe if you’re in school) a good thing to prepare for is school fees. Yearly field trips, book fairs, or funding for in-class projects. There is always something popping up that you are required to flip the bill for.

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24. Work expenses

Just like school expenses tend to pop up and surprise us, work functions can do the same thing. Pot lucks, pooling money for a co-worker’s surprise party or days out for lunch. All of these things should be included in your budget if they are something that tends to happen frequently in the workplace.

25. Back to School

School. I tell ya. Back to school season is spendy. Not only do you need a ton of new supplied to shove into a backpack, but this is usually the time of year the kids get a whole new wardrobe.

If you’ve ever felt blindsided by back to school, make sure to start preparing for it early.

Remember, you can use the same budgeting method for all of these things. Figure out the total cost you usually spend on back to school and divide it by 12 (so you know how much money to put aside every month).

People make budgeting mistakes. Get your budget on track, put your money in the right place, start debt payoff and sinking funds the right way.

26. Graduation season

Graduation season is another time that can catch you off-guard. Maybe you’re not in a stage in life where you get in invited to a lot of these, but if you are, make sure you are planning ahead for them right now.

You could even compile a list of potential grads if you want just so you know how much to budget!

27. Major life events

Which reminds me, if you have kids that are getting close to graduation, or marriage…or college…or a new car, start planning early! U-Nest is a great way to save for college starting when they are little.

Of course, silly me, you yourself might be planning on these things. Wedding, honeymoon, new baby. There are a ton of life events that we often forget to financially plan for!

28. Mistakes

No one is perfect, including you. There will be mistakes made during budgeting. Unexpected expenses will arise, that’s why it’s always good to budget a little cushion into your budget as well.

Maybe just $50 to $100 is all you need. Then, at the end of the month, if you haven’t spent your cushion, you get to decide where you want this bonus cash to go!

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People make budgeting mistakes. Get your budget on track, put your money in the right place, start debt payoff and sinking funds the right way.

Author: Renee

Renee is the blogger behind The Fun Sized Life. After downsizing with her family, she also took the time to get serious about he finances. Now she is sharing the wealth with all of her readers.