We have been budgeting for about 5 years now and our first budget was really not great. We tried, we definitely thought we were doing our best but there was still so much we were missing out on. It’s no wonder we continued to struggle financially. Now that we have a good handle on our budgeting, it’s crazy to think about all those little things that would jump up and bite us in the butt (financially speaking) but we never took the time to change our budget for them. This is how it goes for a lot of people. After subtracting your bills, you think you’re all done budgeting. In reality, you have only spoken for a portion of your total budget. After sitting down to budget, if you don’t find yourself with a balance of $0 then you’ve missed something. Every single cent should have a place. It’s like doing the laundry, you don’t just put away your work clothes, the important ones, and just leave the rest in a pile on your floor and call it a day. Well, maybe you do; but you should definitely not do this with your money! So what are some things you might not be budgeting for, but you should?
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It sounds silly to veteran budgeters, but a lot of people don’t plan for savings. I know I personally used to plan a crazy small amount for savings and I usually wound up just taking it out at some point during the month because “we needed it.” Now I use my Fun Sized Budget to plan for our savings and love watching it build up!
If you get smart enough with your savings, you can actually start to make money off the money you save! Here are some of the best savings plans available:
Everyone needs clothes and at some point, wardrobes need to be updated. Especially if you have kids! If summer is right around the corner, you best believe they aren’t fitting into those same shorts from last year. This budget goes for adults as well. You may need new work clothes, workout clothes, or a better jacket. Whatever it might be, be smart and make sure you’re budgeting for it. Personally, this one has hurt me a lot. With good intentions, I would just browse the clearance sections at Target picking up any new little pieces I saw for the kids and feeling like I was being smart by hitting up the clearance rack. In reality, I would usually spend $50 un-budgeted dollars and wind up paying for it later in the month!
Giving to others, in my opinion, is an absolute must. I’m not saying you have to give to a church or that we have to call this “tithing.” Think of the people who mean the most to you in your life. How often do we find someone we know with a sick child and major hospital bills or a home that burns down in a fire? Have you ever felt that pull where you want to help someone but you just can’t afford it. I know I have and I hated that feeling. Now, we just plan for giving to others.
You might be cruising around in a brand new car and that’s great. In case you didn’t know though, someday you’re going to need another car. Cars don’t last forever. Setting aside a little bit a month for a down payment or so that you can purchase your next car with cash is definitely a budget idea worth remembering.
Of course, sometimes we are faced with a break down before we’re ready, that’s when a small loan can come in handy to help you get a reasonably priced car within your price range!
Yup, that new car is also going to need repairs! Don’t be totally blindsided by the things that go wrong in life. Inevitably, we know something will go wrong with our cars at some point. Be smart, plan for it and put it in the budget.
Just like we know that the engine is going to cause problems at some point, we also know new tires are going to be a must-have. Setting aside $5 per paycheck so you can replace your new tires without stress is a great habit to get into.
Similar to tires and repairs, remember to keep up with your car maintenance. These are things you will be doing more frequently to help prolong the life of your car and put-off those inevitable repairs! Make sure you keep up with these little things and set aside money in your budget for them!
Maybe everyone budgets for this…but I’m going to admit, I never did before! Even when we had a budget. As I said, I would subtract our monthly expenses, see that we had a big chunk of funds left, and feel like we were on the right track. I forgot that a large chunk of that “leftover” money still needed to be given a place to go. In fact, I wound up spending that entire chunk of money on groceries! Keep in mind there were also a number of other things I hadn’t budgeted for either. This left us feeling pretty broke at the end of every month (usually before that!) See how my family of 5 eats for $100 a week now! If you stress when it comes to creating a smart grocery budget and meal plan, check out $5 meal plan. It was created by a busy mother of 4. You can literally have all the work done for you with customized meal plans and grocery lists!
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 gas 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.
If you are paid hourly, it’s a smart idea to plan for those sick days or vacation days where you won’t be making as much money. If you can cover the expense of the days you don’t work, there will be a lot less stress trying to get through them!
If you haven’t heard me say it before, when I was doing photography as a job, I did not spend a single cent of this money wisely. It was seen as “fun money.” Which means, we blew thousands and thousands of dollars on…I don’t even know what! If you have multiple incomes, budget for them! If you have inconsistent freelance type work, budget it! After starting the blog, my monthly income changes all the time and each month I make a plan for those funds before any of it even makes it into my bank account!
Yes, this is a necessity if you are married (a double necessity if you have kids!) Tom and I have always made a huge effort to make sure we get quality time together. Mainly because we both come from families of divorce and we have each been divorced ourselves. We never really saw what it takes to make a marriage last, but we know that what it takes to destroy one is not making your spouse and your relationship with them a priority. See how downsizing actually helped save our marriage.
If you have a family and are wanting to put them in sports, swimming lessons, summer camps or any other fun programs, this is definitely something you need to be budgeting for.
Just like the car will give you reasons to shell out your money for repairs, so will your house. Some of these may be covered by insurance, but it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra stashed away just in case.
It’s inevitable if you want a roof over your head, you’re going to have to pay for it. A new roof is a huge expense, so do yourself a favor, get a small budget going now to help ease the blow 10 years from now!
Ok, maybe not JUST lightbulbs. But keep those little things in mind like salt pellets, air filters, water filters and other small things your house may need. In fact, lightbulbs might actually make the list, if you are working toward longer-lasting LED bulbs that cost more upfront but help make your home sustainable in the long run.
If you have debt, get a budget together to pay it off! I’m sure you already feel the weight of how much debt holds you back in life. It shouldn’t be that way. You may have to really learn to live frugally, but putting as much money toward your debt payoff will be your saving grace! Check out our latest $1,200 debt payoff!
My best debt payoff posts
You know you dream about it all the time, so you may as well start budgeting for it! A great way to do this is by using Sinking Funds as a savings method. In fact, I recommend using Sinking Funds for most of the items on this list. I have a great Sinking Funds printout as well as a detailed vacation budget planner in my budget bundle.
Chances are you are going to want to do things together as a family at some point throughout the month. Personally, we love taking advantage of a lot of free events and parks around us. We have also invested a few times in the Science Museum’s family membership. You pay a flat rate for the entire year! This means the Science Museum is always a pre-paid option for our family to take full advantage of on those dreary, rainy days! So, we budget for this membership every year! On top of the membership, we set money aside for quick hot chocolate runs, breakfasts at Denny’s or any other little adventures we hope to take throughout the month.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but going to the movies these days basically requires a second mortgage on the house. $7 per person, $5 for popcorn, individual candy, and sodas? Forget about it. My kids bring water bottles because I’m a fun mom. Similar to a family fun day, make sure you’re budgeting for these seemingly insignificant events. If there is a movie coming into theaters you know you want to see, be sure to get the funds for it set up in your budget so you can fully enjoy without stressing!
Yup, clothes is a necessity and a fun item although it’s very important to know the difference between the two! I have been known to let this line get a little blurry sometimes! If you’re wanting to purchase some fun new clothes, just be smart and save up for them a little bit. Coming home with a new dress is awesome, but coming home with $300 more in credit card debt is a little less fabulous.
Your spouse is a necessity, but those nights out with friends or co-workers really isn’t. So just be smart and plan for these fun nights!
As I said, we plan for Denny’s! If you know there is some point during the week that you burn out and bail on making dinner, make sure you set a budget for these nights! Personally, we plan for one pizza night a week!
I’m sure I’m not the only mom who secretly dreads her kids coming home with a new birthday party invite. Does everyone have to have a birthday!? Three times in one month!? Awesome. Not only have I cut back on the amount I spend per kid, but I also got a little fund going so I don’t have angst toward the child taking my money for a toy they will probably never play with.
Field trips, book fairs, class fees, oh my! Another one of those things your child runs home with, so excited to share with you and all you see is how much money it’s going to cost you. Just a heads up, this doesn’t end in high school! If my daughter wants to learn more with her passion for photography or painting, I’d better be prepared to flip the bill! Now, I have a monthly sinking fund budget for these little school fees. I’m guessing our daughter feels a lot more excited about her new school adventures when I happily hand over the money instead of grunting about how they take my cash more than the neighbor kid who had the nerve to turn 6 the same week as Christmas.
I don’t actually leave my house for work anymore, but when I did, I know there was always some new thing to put my money toward. Maybe it was a lunch out, someone selling Girl Scout cookies for their daughter, or to help with a co-worker’s unexpected surgery. Whatever the case, plan for it! Again, these little things are very easy to do with Sinking Funds and a little planning. Don’t miss all my budget, savings and debt payoff worksheets to help you keep track!
Taking the summer to set aside money in your budget for when you are back to school shopping is one way to make this “season” less stressful. The toughest part is sticking to this budget! With our kids we let them know they each have a certain amount that is budgeted for so they get some say in what they get to spend more on! If they want that $3 sparkly folder, that’s fine, but that’s $2.50 less to spend on some new shoes! –Needless to say, we have a lot of super boring folders in our house.
Those annual or monthly trips to the doctor shouldn’t leave you with a pile of doctor bills! Get your doctor in your budget if you know you’ll be making a visit!
I say this because it’s right around the corner right now. If you buy baskets, get gifts and all that fun stuff, you’d better have it budgeted out or you may not have much left for eggs and egg dyes!
Costumes, people! I love taking advantage of the clearance section after Halloween. Our kids love playing dress-up so I stock up every November 1. However, chances are they don’t actually want to be any of the costumes I bought when it comes to the next Halloween. Now we set aside money for new costumes and clearance rack shopping!
Yes, there was a time that we didn’t budget for Christmas! Everything just went right onto the credit card! Ahh!! Now, right along with back to school, we save all summer long for events like Christmas!
The bigger the family, the more of these you’d better be budgeting for! Maybe it’s just planning a cake, or an extra dinner out to eat, whatever the case, don’t let these big events because for stress.
Yes, you should be celebrating this. Yes, get her something. End of discussion.
Summer, the season of graduations. Since our daughter will be a senior next year, (excuse me while I go bawl…) I know we have a lot of graduation invites in our near future. Which means lots of cards and $20 bills to pass around! So..better budget for it! While I’m at it, I should probably start saving for our own graduation party! Yikes!
I hope ultimately this list got you thinking instead of stressing! Just remember to be intentional with your spending, saving and budgeting. If you have one of those moments pop up that you wish you would have budgeted for, make sure you write it down so you don’t forget about it next time! Budgeting for all the big and little events in life takes time and practice to get the hang of but once you do, it makes life run a whole lot smoother!