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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.

Forget to budget for

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.

[icon name=”share”] 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.

Final word

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.


  1. seattlegirluw on September 7, 2015 at 4:08 PM

    I do always forget to budget for presents. But we have a car fund to save for repairs and the next car. We also have a vacation fund. It’s not huge, but it’s something separate from savings, so I don’t freak out about lowering the balance with a trip.

    Another good one to budget for: the yearly car insurance premium. We just opened a sub-account and put $90 a way each month. That way, we have the money when the $1,000 bill comes.

    • Barry Choi on September 7, 2015 at 4:18 PM


      When I started to budget for presents it really opened my eyes to how much I was spending. It’s easy to forget when you’re buying a small present here and there, but when I added it all up, I was spending waaay too much.

      I budget my car insurance / maintenance together so I’m never too shocked when those premiums or fixes come up.

  2. Des on September 7, 2015 at 4:34 PM

    I just started tracking my spending this month, beyond the cursory glance at my Mint account every few months, and I can already tell gifts are going to be a killer. To be fair, two people I’m very close with have big birthdays in the next few months, but I’m honestly glad gifts are going to be such an oversized portion of what I’m tracking. It’s very “me” to go overboard on gifts, and I’d rather know what that looks like down to the dollar and plan from there! I can cut back on almost everything for myself, but I’m likely to always want to do a bit extra for gifts, and as long as I plan for it, everything should work out.

    Awesome post!

    • Barry Choi on September 7, 2015 at 4:54 PM


      Thanks for the feedback! There’s nothing wrong with spending more on gifts if you’ve budgeted for it. You just don’t want to get caught without available funds. Also keep in mind that when using Mint you technically void your consumer protection with your bank.

      • Des on September 10, 2015 at 7:44 PM

        I just recently learned that about Mint, thank you for the reminder! I’m actually switching to the super-technical “track every penny I spend in a spreadsheet” approach anyways, since I never found Mint to be great at switching my behaviour anyways. I’m likely going to de-activate any connection between Mint and my bank, although I’m sure any damage that can be done is already done, haha.

        • Barry Choi on September 10, 2015 at 8:35 PM


          I still track my spending through an app since I like to charge everything to my credit cards for points. If I didn’t track it, I could easily go way over budget.

  3. Chonce on September 8, 2015 at 10:57 AM

    I forget to budget for gifts a lot and since we aren’t doing much traveling, I don’t save up for vacations at all. Maintenance is a big one though, so I try to put money up for things like car repairs/maintenance and other random expenses that will be due sooner or later.

    • Barry Choi on September 8, 2015 at 11:29 AM


      I always budget for my vacations since I love to travel. This way I don’t get bent about costs as long as it fits into our overall budget.

  4. Daniel @ SaveWithDan.ca on September 8, 2015 at 12:24 PM

    Good to know we are doing it right 🙂
    Although we don’t have a specific “travel” budget, the money is there. Nothing worse than getting back from vacations just to be confronted by the credit card bill (and wondering how to pay it). It totally ruins the experience!

    • Barry Choi on September 8, 2015 at 12:32 PM


      Heh I don’t travel unless it fits into our budget. That’s the only travel rule I have.

  5. smiller257 on September 12, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    Great suggestions. My wife and I always put a buffer into our monthly budget (see http://www.weretiredearly.com/Blog/2015/09/01/5-budgeting-tips-for-august/).

    • Barry Choi on September 12, 2015 at 1:13 PM


      Smart move. My wife and I also budget a little bit of pad each month.

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