Budget Busters: A Yearly Guide
I'll admit, budgeting gets a whole lot easier over time. The more effort you put in to push through the first few hazy months, the quicker you'll squash the excuse that budgeting is too hard or that there is too much to keep track of. Budgeting is simply a system we put in place to keep track of our monthly inflow and outflow of money. But if the system is broke or not operating at peak efficiency, it's human tendency to hit the eject button and bail.
We've been there. We wanted to give up after penciling out our first budget and seeing we were $600 in the hole. It wasn't easy, and we had to work together, but we pushed through the first few months, and our system and rhythm of monthly budgeting began to make more sense.
If you're new to budgeting and you are like us, you've got your head down in your budget just trying to make sense of it all. You're not likely thinking long-term about that pothole in the road a few miles ahead. You're just peaking over the hood, making sure you're still on the road. And that's totally fine.
But I wanted to share a list of some budget line items that are often forgotten about. Take it for what it is: a brainstorming list to get you thinking about things coming up in the future that you could start saving for today.
These are some of the things that have tripped us up over the years and have caused us some budget headaches. Hopefully they will help you avoid some of the mistakes we've made.
Some of these items require monthly payments and we have to decide if we want to add that into our monthly budget (some are paid yearly or seasonally). Most of the items I've included are in the Entertainment category. Not a bad way to spend your money, just be sure you've saved for and anticipated the costs.
- Amazon Prime
- Costco/Sam's Club
- Park passes
- Zoo membership
- Science Center membership
- Swimming pool pass
Not a big list here, but sometimes you can save money by spreading out your payments or paying for things up front, like insurance.
- Taxes (if you own your own business)
- Vehicle registration renewal
- Driver's license renewal
- Property taxes (if not escrowed with your mortgage)
These can be tricky. Sometimes we'll decide on attending an event, like the marriage conference we're going to mid-March, only a few months beforehand and have to save a lot ($340 in this instance) in a short period of time. It's been important for us to not let that happen too frequently so we can also have enough cash flow to save for other important things.
Depending on how your healthcare coverage is set up, a lot of this might come out of your paycheck. Take the time to understand what you will be responsible for paying for and budget accordingly. You'll know yourself and your family better than anyone, so be honest about how much money you really spend. We set up flex spending that comes out of paycheck (pre-tax) and use it for well-child visits and chiropractic throughout the year. Since we can't carry it over, and rarely (fingers crossed) go to the doctor ourselves, we don't load it with funds beyond that.
Many of these items can be saved for monthly. For us, it's the kid who rings our doorbell selling something that catches us off guard. We need to do a better job of having some funds available for things like that. Some friends of ours have a "Random Acts of Kindness" line in their budget and they use it to bless others (taking friends out to eat, giving thoughtfully to those who need a pick-me-up, blessing those who are in the hospital, etc.).
- Supporting youngsters
- End-of-the-year donations
- Other events/causes
- Sponsoring a child
- Random acts of kindness
Having bought a new house in 2007, thinking about replacing appliances or a roof on our home hasn't kept us up at night. But, if you live in an older home, you might want to do some research to see when the bigger (i.e., more expensive) things will need to be replaced.
We buy a new phone every two years, so we should probably automatically save money for that. We usually just cash flow it a few months before, but that can cause some stress.
- Replace tires and breaks on vehicles (we did both this month)
- House renovations
- Home maintenance
There are no doubt items missing from the above list. I tried to paint with broad strokes in hopes that this list triggers those budget busters in your life that you need to make a plan for. I used to think budgeting was all about numbers and controlling your money, but I'm starting to see the real value that it brings to lowering the level of stress we have in our lives.
Budgeting gives us peace and keeps the stress down.
What say you? What would you add to this list? Leave a comment.