Budgeting is one of the most important financial habits to develop. There are so many budgeting methods out there to choose from, but it’s not just creating a budget that will set you up for financial success. Instead, it’s important to learn how to budget well by using a monthly expenses list so you don’t forget about any costs.
Whether you already have a budget that is in need of updating or you are creating your first one, here we’ll go over some of these often-overlooked purchases that you should include in your budget so that you, too, can budget well.
Monthly expenses list: 29 Commonly overlooked items
Do you have the items from this commonly overlooked monthly expenses list in your budget? Review the list below to determine what’s applicable to you and incorporate them into your budget starting today!
1. Emergency fund
Just because a third party isn’t billing you monthly for it doesn’t mean you can afford to forget about your emergency fund. Build a contribution to your emergency fund into your budget. That way, you’ll be able to afford any unexpected (and not budgeted for) costs that may arise.
The commonly accepted amount to save is 3-6 months of your living expenses. But you may choose to include more money in your emergency fund, depending on how stable your financial situation is.
2. Retirement fund
Like your emergency fund, nobody is going to force you to contribute to your retirement, but you still should if you can. By adding this amount to your monthly budget, you’ll hold yourself accountable. Plus, you’ll set yourself up to be in the best financial position when it comes time to retire.
There are 401ks and 401k alternatives, IRAs, and other options for investing. There are plenty of tips for retirement planning if you aren’t sure where to start.
Choose the one that works best for you, or combine more than one retirement savings method.
3. Extra debt payments
If you have credit card debt, you want to pay the minimum payment every month, at the very least. If you want to reduce credit card debt, you will want to make more than your monthly minimum payments.
Don’t forget to include these extra debt payments in your list of monthly bills. And it helps to come up with a plan to pay off your debt, including a timeline for when you will pay off everything you owe.
4. Quarterly or annual bills
The majority of bills come monthly, but not all. Comb through your past payments and take stock of all bills that you pay less frequently.
For instance, a quarterly water bill or annual professional association membership dues. Then, calculate how much that amount costs on a prorated, monthly basis, and include that figure in your monthly budget.
5. Home or renter’s insurance
Most homeowners choose to insure their belongings with homeowners insurance, and many apartment buildings require renters to carry renter’s insurance.
If you think you might forget or you want to simplify, you can combine your homeowner’s insurance with your mortgage payment.
Renter’s insurance costs are typically quite low, less than $20 per month in most cases. You can think of it as part of your monthly rent payment.
6. Medical visit co-pays and HSA
your health insurance should cover the cost of most medical appointments, but it is important to budget for co-pays. At around $25 (or more) per visit, these co-pays can add up, even if you only go to the doctor for routine appointments.
If you visit the doctor often, be sure to estimate how many times a month you go. Be sure to account for these costs in your budget.
You may also choose to save money in an HSA (health savings account). There are specific amounts you can contribute, and whether this is an option for you also depends on your health plan. But if you do contribute to an HSA, don’t forget to budget for it.
7. Dental and/or visitson cos
Even if you have health insurance, vision and dental expenses are often not covered under that health insurance. Sometimes separate vision and dental insurance will cover part, but not all, of your expenses.
Make sure to include charges such as teeth cleaning, new glasses, and contact lenses as monthly expenses list items in your budget.
First, determine is dental insurance worth it for you, as well as vision insurance, and if not, plan for the costs in advance.
8. Prescription medication
Another one of the medical-related monthly bills that many often forget is prescription medication.
Prescription drugs cost the average American over $1,000 a year! While your health insurance will likely pay for much of that, remember to account for your out-of-pocket costs in your monthly budget.
9. Parking and toll fees
Most people don’t forget their car payments in their monthly costs, but that’s not all it costs for car expenses. Especially if you commute to work, you will likely pay tolls and or parking fees.
Add up the total you spend on all extra fees for your car each month to get an accurate estimate.
10. Subscription renewals
Whether it’s your daily newspaper, a beauty box, Spotify, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, or gym memberships, there are seemingly endless subscription and membership options.
$12.99 might not seem like a ton of money, but it can throw off your budget if you forget to include it. Know how much your subscriptions cost and when the money is due, and be sure to get rid of any subscriptions or memberships you don’t use.
11. Beauty expenses
Reports vary widely on how much women spend on makeup and beauty products, but needless to say, it can be a lot.
One survey found that the average woman spends $300,000 on face products over the course of her lifetime! Even if you are on the low end of the average, you likely replenish a beauty product or two or personal care products every month.
If so, be sure to include those monthly expenses list items in your budget.
12. Cleaning supplies
Grocery store items that don’t need to be replenished every week or month are often overlooked when it comes to a monthly expenses list. Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and the like can really add up.
Be prepared for an extra expensive grocery shopping trip once a month or every couple of months to account for these costs, and try frugal grocery shopping during the other weeks.
13. Backup childcare
If you have children you probably pay for childcare of some sort. Or you may count on school to watch your kids for a large portion of most days.
But things interfere with your regular scheduled childcare all of the time. When they do, and you need to find and pay for backup childcare, you’ll be happy when you have anticipated this cost and budgeted for it.
In addition to saving money for backup childcare, you should also save for extra expenses that come up throughout the year, other than regular daycare costs.
For instance, extra costs for school events or tuition payments that cost more than expected.
14. Dry cleaning
Depending on your job and your wardrobe, dry cleaning might be something you do every week, every month, or only occasionally. No matter what, you’ll likely have at least a couple of items that will require a trip to the dry cleaners, and these should be included in your budget, too.
Try to reduce your dry cleaning costs, but plan for them when needed.
15. Formal occasion clothes
You might not need a new formal dress or suit very often, but an occasion will probably arise every so often that requires one. While you can be fashionable on a budget, formal events sometimes call for a splurge or a new pair of shoes, and it’s always best to budget for this in advance.
In addition, you may want to save up a bit of money each month for regular clothing purchases as needed. You won’t need to spend money on this every month, but maybe a few times a year, so it’s good to be prepared.
16. Hobby supplies
Are you an avid gardener, knitter, baker, or something else? Hobbies can keep us sane (especially stress relieving hobbies!) and are definitely worth the cost.
Just remember to account for how much it costs to keep up with your hobby in your budget.
Add up the individual costs that you spend on your hobby each month (supplies, classes, etc.), and then add all of those together to know how much to set aside monthly.
Giving is popular around the holidays, but many people make charitable giving a part of their budget all year long.
Whether you like to support your alma mater, friends participating in half-marathons and the charities they are running for, or any other worthy cause, be sure to remember this when you prepare your budget, too.
Christmas and birthday gift expenses are big-spending holidays for many people. If they are for you, you should take into account everyone you plan to buy a present, even if you’re planning to do Christmas on a budget.
Don’t forget about other holidays where you might give gifts, too.
For example, that Easter basket doesn’t magically arrive on your kid’s doorstep for free, right (or does it)?
19. Holiday extras
In addition to gifts, there are plenty of other ways to spend money over the holidays. From hosting a cocktail party for friends to decorating your home, be sure to include whatever “extras” you like to spend during the holidays as part of your monthly cost calculation.
Don’t forget about baking and cooking supplies, a Christmas party at work, wrapping paper, etc.
20. Fun money
Lastly, what would a budget or life be without some room for unexpected fun?
By putting aside a fun money amount dedicated to spontaneous events, like a day trip to the beach, drinks with friends, or a date night with your husband, you’ll be able to enjoy these activities without stressing over whether or not they’ll break your budget.
Things like entertainment, shopping purchases, or anything else that comes up during the month are important to include in your budget.
21. Specific utilities
There are several specific utilities you should add to your monthly expenses list. Some of them may be bundled together in one bill, or they may arrive separately. Either way, don’t forget about them!
Cable (or cable alternatives)
Heating and air conditioning
Cell phone bill
Does the amount of money you spend on gas for your car change from month to month? If your commute changes, you start carpooling, or you travel, then you need to account for the changes in your budget. Transportation costs are easy to overlook, but they are unavoidable.
Costs also apply if you take public transportation. You may still have different costs for the bus, subway, or Uber from month to month.
23. Life insurance
If you’re familiar with the importance of life insurance, then you will likely have a monthly cost for this. Depending on the type of insurance you have, your monthly rates will vary quite a bit.
Find out what you are spending each month for your life insurance premium, and don’t forget to include it in your expenses.
24. Pet care and supplies
If you have pets, your list of monthly bills is not complete without adding in this cost. Account for the cost of pet food, vet bills, supplies, etc.
You may want to set up a separate fund just for your pets. That way, you can afford to buy your dog a new toy or leash every now and then.
And keep in mind that pet care costs may vary by month. Especially if you buy pet food in bulk and only visit the vet once or twice a year. Plan in advance for the months that cost more.
If you are a first time dog owner or a first time cat owner, research costs in advance so you can add them to your budget.
25. Traveling funds
If you are someone who travels frequently for work or you just have a vacation coming up, you’ll need to include traveling funds in your vacation budget plans. Traveling costs can end up being quite expensive, so you can split the savings over a few months, that way, it doesn’t seem like as much.
Keep in mind that traveling can often cost more than you think, with airfare, hotel costs, dining out during your trip, etc., so it’s best to overbudget rather than budget less money.
26. HOA fees and property taxes
Since these types of costs are not always monthly costs but sometimes every quarter for HOA fees or even once a year for property taxes, it’s easy to forget them.
Instead, you can set aside a bit of money for them each month so you’ll be ready when the fees are du
HOA (homeowners association) fees don’t apply to everyone, but if you have them, make sure you’re aware of the amount.
Property taxes apply to all homeowners.
27. Home repairs and costs
Home repairs can be anything from pest control to saving up for unexpected costs like plumbing repairs. Save money each month for your home for both large and small costs.
Consider things like painting, remodels, a new roof, or your a/c or heater breaking that you may need savings for.
28. Sinking funds
Your list of monthly expenses would not be complete without sinking funds. If you have a big expense coming up in the next year or the next few years, start saving now.
You can add a specific amount of money to your sinking fund each month so you are prepared when the charges come up, such as an expensive vacation, buying a home or rental property, etc.
Alternatively, create sinking funds categories and save for several different things.
29. Auto insurance
If you have a car, then you need to have auto insurance. The typical cost for car insurance is about $168 for full coverage each month, though costs can vary.
There are a lot of options for how often you pay car insurance, from monthly to a couple of times a year or even once a year. You can decide what works best for your budget.
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