4 Minute Read
Check you out. You’ve morphed your once-flabby budget into a zero-based Fabio. Or did you? Somehow you forgot to include your car insurance premium, kids’ dental exams and Kiwanis club dues. Suddenly, your hunk of a budget isn’t looking so hot.
Instead of stress eating, plan smarter. Create a simple, big-picture budget with some common (and easily forgotten), once-in-a-while expenses. Then, refer back to this cheat sheet as you plan each month’s budget.
You’ll be back on track before you can say, "I can’t believe it’s not budgeted."
1. Oil Change
Whether you are a die-hard nerd and change your oil every 3,000 miles or a free spirit who thinks oil change stickers are more of a suggestion, you must change it eventually. So mark your budgeting calendar now. This is also a great time for a quick tire rotation and car inspection.
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2. Car Insurance and Registration
A paid-in-full premium may mean an awesome policy discount, but it also means 11 blissful months without a bill, making it easy to let this slip through your budget. Try saving a little each month so you’re not flipping couch cushions when your annual bill comes due. And don’t forget to budget for those yearly car tags too!
3. HVAC Inspection
It’s better to clean and maintain now than to try and get a repairman out after something has already failed, especially in extreme temperatures. Spring or fall is an ideal time to work this into your budget.
4. Gardening Supplies
A well-manicured lawn and garden is a great way to beautify your home and neighborhood, but not if it uproots your entire April budget. Flowers always smell better when they’re paid for with cash.
5. Pest Control
Having your house chewed up by tiny insects usually decreases its value. So, whether it’s once a quarter or once a year, be sure to get your home termite and pest-proofed. Plus, it’s just fun to threaten the kids with, "The exterminator is coming!"
6. Child Care Fees and Extracurricular Activities
If you have a child in daycare, you’ll likely have to pay to reapply each year, holding his or her enrollment spot. Or, if your kids are school-age, be aware of season-specific camps, sports and workshops and the fees, uniforms and snacks that go along with each.
7. Annual Checkups
No amount of laughing gas will ease the pain of an unbudgeted dental cleaning. This one can hit hard since it affects the whole family. Scheduling a single week or month in which you all go to dental and vision appointments makes them easier to remember, as well as budget.
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8. Organization Dues
If you’re involved in a professional or civic organization, like Toastmasters International or Junior League, you know the benefits of being a part of a passionate group of like-minded business leaders and volunteers. So keep up the good work by keeping up with your dues.
9. Birthday and Christmas Gifts
Surprise parties are fun, but not, "Surprise! Another niece needs a cash-filled belated birthday card." Mark your big-picture budget with holidays, special occasions, and the names and birthdays of important friends and family. Then go ahead and squeeze a monthly "gift" envelope into your budget. That way, you’ll know how much you can spend, and when to spend it.
If you’re an avid reader, movie-watcher, online shopper, or love getting surprise subscription boxes every month, this is one fee you’ll gladly pay. Luckily, subscription companies are great about sending a ton of not-so-gentle renewal reminders. But instead of waiting for your favorite glossy or box to stop coming, work it into your big-picture budget today. That applies to things like your gym, Costco, and Amazon Prime memberships as well.
It took a lot of work to get this far, so don’t let a few financial hiccups knock you down. Outsmart once-in-a-while expenses by looking at the big picture before you budget. Then, plan each month smarter.
Your ridiculously good-looking cash flow plan will thank you.
Get the free EveryDollar Guide to Budgeting for all your questions about this important monthly ritual.