Determining exactly what to add to your budget can be tricky, particularly if you’re just starting out (you’re a rock star, btw!). Sure, you’ve got the obvious expenses like rent/mortgage, monthly bills, and groceries, but why is it that we sometimes get blindsided? Things seem to “sneak up” on us.
‘Rats! The oil light came on in my car!’
‘UGH ANOTHER toll bill?!’
‘Remind me to write down when our Amazon Prime subscription started, honey…they just took $100 out of my account!’
Any of these sound familiar? Suffice it to say it’s frustrating!
I hear ya. Deep breath. This post serves to help significantly reduce the frequency of these surprises (that really aren’t meant to be surprises at all). So snag your budget and take notes, friends. Not to worry if you’re already knee-deep in this paycheck’s/month’s budget. You can add these to the bottom of your spreadsheet or jot them down on sticky notes for your hand-written budget. Leaving yourself a reminder is the key first step; then once payday hits again (woooop, I’m ready!), incorporate these right away!
1. Vehicle maintenance – $20-$100 for oil changes every ~5,000 miles
$25-$50 for tire rotation every ~5,000 miles
Take a moment to record the make of your car, current mileage, and whether or not you’re still under warranty. Having this information handy is going to posture you to get the most accurate estimates possible regarding your vehicle maintenance expenses.
2. Vehicle registration renewal – Continued theme from #1, and still a common ‘gotcha’ for so many of us! You’d think that handy-dandy sticker in the windshield/on our license plates would keep us from forgetting…I think they even send us a notice in the mail…I mean, that’s great but can I get a text reminder or somethin’?! It’s 2019, fam! I digress.
This expense varies depending on where you live, but I’ve done the Google searching for you and found this helpful site that breaks down title and registration fees by state.
As if buying a car weren’t expensive enough already! Sheesh!
3. Birthdays – mom, dad, brother, sister, spouse, in-laws, kids, close friends, dog (hey, some people). Get all the dates and put them in your budget so you’re prepared to set a little money aside as those days approach. You want to be a part of that celebration! And keep in mind, you don’t have to budget much. I’ve found that some of the most appreciated gifts I’ve given were DIY and personalized!
4. Special Occasion Funds – Do you have a friend getting married this year? Planning a more extravagant birthday for the big “Dirty Thirty”? Shooting for a full-body massage + facial as the busiest work season of the year comes to a close? All of these are likely to put a dent in your budget if they’re not intentionally listed in advance.
Pro tip: Cycle through previous dresses when wedding season hits! The whole “new outfit for every occasion” thing is your budget’s worst nightmare.
5. Holiday gifts – I like to start budgeting for Christmas in September. This is our fail-proof way of avoiding credit card use at the most tempting time of the year – when the weather is cold, the sales are big, and the spirit is jolly!
I’ve got to reiterate here the strength of do-it-yourself gifts! Back in 2013, I made a huge pot of homemade applesauce, divided it into 8 small jars (there was even some left for me!), wrapped cute dollar-store ribbon around each, and gave them with a smile to the leading women in my life. I wish you could have seen Mama’s face! She was incredibly happy. So remember, expensive gifts aren’t always the best gifts.
6. Tolls – This may not be applicable to all of you, but many of us live in places with toll roads. Be cognizant of when you take them so that the letter in the mail isn’t unexpected. There’s nothing like setting a rockin’ budget for the month with every dollar told where to go, only to have your whole vibe thrown off by that $18 bill. Nah, babe. Not today. Now you’ll be ready!
7. Rent/childcare increase – For the longest time I didn’t understand why my rent went up every single year. I thought to myself, ‘I’m being duped! This isn’t fair!’ Wellllll…pause for a moment and put yourself in your landlord’s/daycare owner’s shoes. Their costs of ownership are continually increasing. (Thanks, inflation and raised property taxes. ‘Preciate ya.) With that in mind, it starts to make sense why YOUR expense is thereby increased as well. Tenants aren’t the only ones who have to make ends meet; the owners do, too!
So take note of when your lease/contract is coming due, and get in contact with the property owner to be ahead of what the exact increase is going to look like. Update the line item in your budget and go on with ya bad self. You’re doing great!
Note: Before you go moving out because your rent was increased, note that you can try to negotiate rent with the landlord or pursue a multi-year lease where the rent is locked in for a longer period of time. Who knows, you may come out on top!
8. Amazon Prime renewal – Oooooh this one came out of left field late in 2018! Had me SHOOK!
All because I failed to jot down when the subscription started in the first place. *shakes head in disappointment*
Now I know you have Amazon open in another tab (ha! Knew it!), so just peek at your account details and find the day your online shopping changed forever. Then record the price applicable to you based on Amazon Prime’s most recent price changes, found here.
Feels good, huh?! Just one more to go!
9. Credit card fees – Unless you belong to the fortunate bunch and have annual fees waived on your credit card(s), you’re going to want to be aware of when and how much you’ll be charged. It’s highly likely your card will be charged automatically, and you don’t want to get all silly thinking there’s fraudulent activity on your account simply because you don’t know the details of your own card! Yikes. No good. Just a couple of clicks and you’ll be all over this one!
There you have it! I hope you realize you’ve just gained even more control of your finances. And you’re a champion for seeking the utmost budgeting accuracy – because those small
items add up!
Thanks for reading.