It doesn’t matter how old we are, or how much we make, having a budget in place is essential. Setting one up is pretty straight forward, but many of us forget to budget for quite a few things.
The most common trick to creating a realistic budget is to track our spending for a month or two. With this information it’s easy to see where our money is going and we can then make adjustments. There is one downside to this method– we don’t necessarily spend on certain things every month.
Failing to add something to our budgets hopefully won’t break us, but it’ll definitely hurt us when those eventual expenses come up. The other problem is, we often underestimate how much we’ll spend on items so it’s easy to come up short. So instead of tapping into our emergency funds, we need to make sure our budgets are accurate.
5 Things we shouldn’t forget to budget for
Saving – This sounds entirely ridiculous, but way too many of us forget to budget for our retirement. Many of us have the mentality of spend first and if there’s something left over, then we’ll save it. It should be save first, spend what’s left over. Okay bills come first, but you get the point. It doesn’t matter if we’re saving for our retirement, a down payment, or even something short term, saving should always be a priority.
If we’re lucky, our employers might offer some kind of retirement benefits. Defined benefit pensions are the gold standard, but they’re becoming increasingly rare in the private sector. It’s much more common these days for employers to offer some kind of retirement matching plan. This is a great way grow our savings, but we need to enroll in the plan to begin with to get the employer benefit so be sure to budget for it.
Vacations – Travel is a life experience, so it’s no surprise that many of us are always itching to get away. The problem is, many of us convince ourselves that we need a vacation and end up taking one even when we can’t afford it. Travel isn’t always expensive, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t budget for it. What we’re able to save determines exactly how much we can spend on travel. If we want to take yearly vacations, then we better start saving more.
Remember, travel is a luxury, it is never essential, so if we’re having cash flow problems, it should be one of the first that gets cut from our budget. No matter how badly we may need a vacation, we should never travel on credit. It’s okay if we’re paying off our balances in full every month, but travelling is never worth it if we need to go into debt for it.
Maintenance – Things break, it happens, so it’s in our best interest to budget for maintenance since they’ll come eventually. Small repairs won’t cost us too much, but it’s the major repairs that hurt us if we’re not prepared. With cars it’s easy to budget a small amount every month for maintenance; anything that goes unused can be put towards major repairs later. Home repairs really depends on the age and condition of our homes, again repairs can come at any time, so we need to build a little bit of a cushion so we don’t have to dip into our emergency funds.Related: Overlooked costs of buying a home
Gifts – I think most of us are pretty good at budgeting for gifts, but many of us underestimate how much we actually end up spending on presents. Christmas is the obvious time where we spend more on gifts, but there’s also birthday’s, weddings, and anniversaries that can sneak up on us. The last thing we want is to blow our entire budget before the holiday season rolls around, but if we’re constantly coming up short at Christmas, then it might be time to add some people to our naughty list.
Life Insurance – This is one thing that can easily slip from our budget for a few reasons. Maybe our employee benefits offers life insurance as a standard benefit, or maybe we currently don’t have dependents so life insurance isn’t necessary yet. Those are 2 very good reasons but keep in mind work insurance only applies if we’re employed. Who knows how long we’ll be with a company, sometimes it’s worth getting a separate policy in our younger years when we’re still insurable. As far as not having any dependents are concerned, some people still prefer to have a policy in place for worst case scenarios.
All of these items are pretty normal expenses, but many of us simply forget to budget properly for them. Sure they don’t happen that often, but it’s still something we need fit into our budgets. It doesn’t matter how much money we make, it’s always a good idea to have an accurate budget that works.