Budgeting can take some work to get just right. One of the common areas that trips people up is understanding exactly how much you spend each month. Figuring that out can take some trial and error as well as fine-tuning. And even if things are humming along well for a few months, you can suddenly get hit with a surprise bill or a colossal credit-card statement that jeopardizes your finances.
To help avoid that scenario and make budgeting easier, it can be wise to consider some of the items that are all too often omitted from the expenses list when accounting for one’s money. This can really ensure that your hard work managing your finances stays on track.
Read on to learn about commonly overlooked expenditures and how to work them into your budget. That way, you’ll know exactly where your money is going, which can help you avoid debt.
What Are Some Expenses That Are Commonly Budgeted?
When thinking about a basic living expenses budget, some items are so major, recurring, and important that it would be hard to overlook them. These likely include:
• Rent or mortgage payments
• Homeowners association fees
• Cell phone bill
• Car and/or student loan payments
• Daycare or tuition
• Gym memberships
• Medical insurance and pet insurance premiums
Why Is It Important to Budget for Forgotten Expenses?
It’s understandable that some expenses may slip your mind when creating a budget. The typical person probably has dozens of things they are paying for in a given month. But these sneaky forgotten expenses can wreak havoc on your budget and prevent you from reaching your financial goals.
That’s why it’s important to pay close attention to your spending so you can adjust your budget as needed. These are some of the reasons that it’s important to budget for forgotten expenses:
• Creating a successful budget requires knowing what you spend each month.
• If you forget to add an expense and run out of funds to pay for it, you may end up pulling funds away from your savings goals to cover it.
• If you really overspend due to forgotten expenses, you may have to turn to high-interest credit card debt to make ends meet.
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20 Commonly Forgotten Budget Items
If you are convinced of the importance of accounting for all of your expenses, then it’s time to move ahead. Let’s look at some commonly forgotten budget items to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks.
1. Home Maintenance
While it’s hard to forget to make a mortgage payment, the other expenses of homeownership are easy to forget about and add up fast. From hiring a gardener to regular carpet cleanings to random handyman repairs, it makes sense to leave room in a budget for home maintenance as those charges are always popping up.
2. Vehicle Maintenance
Budgeting for a car payment is probably top of mind. No one wants to risk paying interest fees or losing their car. The same holds true for car insurance. But those aren’t the only car expenses worth planning for. Drivers also need to make room in their budget for such car-related expenses as tune-ups and repairs. Additionally, remember to include gas, insurance, parking and toll road fees; they have a way of adding up.
Income taxes may be withdrawn from our paychecks, but county, local, and property taxes aren’t. Forgetting about these bills is a common budgeting mistake. Then, when the payment does come due, it’s a nasty surprise that can throw your budget out of whack.
4. Medical Expenses
It’s easy to forget about or overlook your medical expenses, including OTC and Rx drugs, dental cleanings, regular checkups, or getting new glasses or contacts. These are all vital expenses worth planning for. Budgeting for medical expenses can help improve your financial health too by helping you avoid debt.
Perhaps you donate when you see a worthy cause on social media or sponsor a colleague who’s doing a charity walk. This kind of spending is easy to forget about, so make sure to put it into your budget so you don’t wind up short of funds when you want to help others.
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6. Office/School Supplies
Items that keep the household or a student up and running need a spot on your budget too. This means accounting for things like toner, paper, stamps, shipping supplies, and software subscription fees.
7. Renewals for Licenses (Insurance, Drivers, Etc.)
Some expenses only pop up once a year or every few years like driver’s license renewals or insurance renewals, but it can be helpful to split up that expense into smaller chunks and save for it month by month.
8. Seasonal Maintenance
Some home-maintenance needs, like gardening, are ongoing, but others come around seasonally. Similar to license renewals, it can be helpful to save up for pricey seasonal maintenance needs like gutter cleaning and snow removal all year round. That way, you won’t come up short when a bill hits.
9. Items for Pets
Pets bring a lot of love into a home, but also a lot of expenses. From vet fees and pet insurance to toys, food, and doggie daycare, the expenses keep on coming.
10. Personal Items (Hair, Nails, Etc.)
A bottle of shampoo here, a manicure there, plus regular haircuts: These personal expenses that help us look and feel our best can add up quickly. They may only cost a few bucks a pop (hello, body wash) or only happen once in a while (that fresh set of highlights), but it’s wise to be prepared for the cost.
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11. Lump Sum Bills
Medical bills, car repairs, and other kinds of large expenses tend to come our way. Many of them are lump sum bills, meaning you are expected to pay them in full, right away. Which is why it can be helpful to save money each month to contribute to an emergency fund that can cover lump sum bills.
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If you rely on ridesharing apps to get around (whether it’s once a month or several times a week), you need to budget for that expense. The convenience can make it feel like a free ride…but it isn’t!
13. Delivery App Fees
Another app-based expense to look out for are the delivery fees that get added when you order dinner or groceries from the comfort of your home. Also, if you tip the driver, make sure to include that as well. These fees definitely add to the price of what’s being dropped off.
14. Business Expenses (Conferences, Trips, Etc.)
Most working professionals incur expenses to work (not necessarily fun, but necessary). These include such purchases as buying professional clothing, renewing professional licenses, or pursuing continuing education to further your career.
We all like to have a good time. From travel to movies to museum memberships to concerts, there’s no shortage of entertainment costs that need to make their way into our budgets.
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16. Subscriptions or Membership Fees
Speaking of entertainment, you may be paying for one or more streaming platforms, like Netflix, HBOMax, and Hulu. And you may have other subscriptions, like meal kits, personal-care supplies, gym memberships, or even a wine- or beer-of-the-month club. These kinds of one-click sign-ups may not make it onto your budget, but they should.
17. Gifts for Others
From swanky birthday dinners to holiday gifts to wedding presents, most of us tend to spend a chunk of change every month to make others happy. It can help to save for the costs of gifts all year round. Try adding a “presents” line to your budget, whether or not you give gifts every single month of the year. That way, when these expenses do pop up, you’ll be prepared.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a pricey latte on the go now and then, as long as it finds a spot in your budget. These kinds of little treats can be a good self-care gesture, and budgeting for them properly can be an example of financial self-care.
19. Roadside Assistance Costs
One extra that some drivers may find very worthwhile is roadside assistance service. Keep it in the budget, and stay safe.
20. Laundromat/Dry Cleaners
All of us wind up using expensive dry cleaning services at least now and then, and some working professionals will have quite a bill from the cleaners. In addition, it’s worthwhile to remember that even laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and laundromat visits can add up fast and deserve a spot on your budget.
Why Are These Expenses Commonly Forgotten?
As you can see, that’s quite a list of easily forgotten expenses. It may seem somewhat obvious why these tend to slip our minds. It’s relatively simple to remember to add the really big, recurring expenses — like rent or a car payment — into a monthly budget. But there are plenty of “invisible” expenses that we pay for with a simple click online (whether that means paying for a subscription service or a life insurance policy) that can fail to register.
There are also those very infrequent charges — say, an annual technician visit to clean your heating system — that we can overlook until they hit. Also worth noting are the little, mundane purchases of things like laundry detergent, printer paper, and so forth that can add up over time.
Accounting for as many expenditures as possible will help you hone your budget and be as prepared as possible for the bills that come your way.
Banking With SoFi
Most of us have a lot of expenses to manage, and it’s human nature not to remember them all. But what if your bank were to help you budget, save, and spend better? A SoFi bank account can help you do that. When you sign up for our Checking and Savings, you’ll have one convenient place to stash your money, plus automatic savings features to help you stay organized and meet your money goals. And when you open your account with direct deposit, you’ll earn a competitive APY and pay no fees, which means your money may grow faster.
What are common monthly expenses?
Common monthly expenses include rent or mortgage payments, utilities, food, cell phone bills, and loans or credit-card payments. Most of us also purchase clothes, meals or coffee to go, personal care products, medical insurance, and have transportation expenses, which may or may not include car payments and insurance.
What are some hidden expenses you may have?
Some commonly forgotten budget items can include medical expenses, petcare costs, charitable donations, home- and car-maintenance charges, and subscription services, whether that’s a gym membership or streaming channels.
Will my budget be messed up if I do not add these forgotten expenses?
It is possible to mess up a budget if you don’t budget for commonly forgotten budget items. You may wind up with bills to pay and not enough income to cover your expenses. To resolve this, you might have to dip into your savings or start putting things on your credit card, neither of which is ideal. The good news is, each month offers a fresh start to make your budget work better.
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