Firstly, let’s get something straight. If you’re budgeting, then you’re already doing better than most people. If you’re not budgeting, then please start, but read this article first to avoid having to pay for something that you failed to forecast. The unfortunate truth is that even the most watertight budget is vulnerable to surprises, but as always, I’m here to help you through it.
Consider these areas when creating your budget (or use the budget template that I’ve developed – click to download):
1) Pet-related expenses
Do you have a pet? If not, and you’re not planning on getting one, move on to number 2. If you do, you need to account for everything including food, boarding, health, toys, grooming fees and bedding in your budget. It’s a good thing you love them, eh?
2) Big ticket items
Are you eyeing up a new car? Have your friends been telling you about a great hotel in Maldives? Is your washing machine looking a little weary? You’d be surprised how often these expenses can slip our minds when we create a budget. Don’t let them slip from yours!
3) Non-monthly bills
These bills are sneaky. Most bills are paid monthly, but some may be paid every 2 months or every quarter. Watch out for them, and remember to consider every bill in your budget.
- Automobile registration is an annual bill. Depending on the type of your car, this can be pretty pricey.
- Property taxes and insurance premiums are usually paid annually or quarterly. Remember to budget for these.
- Are you subscribed to a magazine? Perhaps you’ve finally committed to the gym. These things will often have non-monthly bills.
- House and car maintenance are unpredictable, but it can still be forecasted to an extent. How’s your roof looking? Is your car making strange noises? Budget accordingly.
- Dental check-ups, eye examinations, those annual trips to the doctors that everyone hates. We always forget these things when we’re budgeting, but accounting for them can avoid nasty surprises further down the line.
Clothing is the dark horse of anyone’s budget. So easily forgotten, yet often so very expensive. Set aside money for everyday clothing (especially if you have growing kids) but remember to account for special occasions too. Is there a wedding on its way? Budget for those shoes you’ve had your eye on.
Even with the advent of Facebook, Birthdays have a habit of sneaking up on us. Y’ know the festive seasons such Christmas, CNY, Hari Raya, Deepavali can cause problems too – we all know when it is. But often we forget that Great Aunt Mavis always sends us something, and we should really return the favour. If you have a big family, start saving early for these celebrations and always have some money set aside for last minute Birthday presents.
6) School-related expenses
Lunch money, school supplies (why does your child always need new colouring pencils?), field trips, sports equipment…it all adds up.
A household budget isn’t very effective if most of your expenses are excluded. Try and think outside the parameters of an average month in order to accommodate for the “surprises” I’ve listed above. One great way to do this is to look at your spending from last year and model this year’s budget on that (or you could use the budget template that I’ve developed – click to download). It’s never too late to start!
Thanks for reading and as always, feel free to share this article with your friends. Have an awesome weekend!