If you dropped and broke a glass on the floor, you wouldn’t just pick up the pieces you can see, right? You’d vacuum thoroughly and be careful not to walk barefoot over the area.
When it comes to money, many of us who make a budget want to simply adjust some numbers month to month and be done with it. But each time you turn the calendar page, a fresh set of expenses is waiting to be accounted for. In December, it’s Christmas. In the summer, you may be going crazy for a vacation.
It’s important to cover each month’s expenses so you don’t get surprised. To show you what we mean, here are five things your budget might have missed:
We talk about going on a vacation “next summer,” but you can start saving for it sooner than that. It’s better to put away a few hundred dollars a month now than try to pay for the whole thing when you take the trip. Look a few months out to see what other big expenses you can start saving for.
2. Non-monthly expenses
These can be some of the worst because they are usually big (such as car insurance or birthdays) and happen just infrequently enough that you forget about them. Thus, they seem to hit you out of left field when they happen. Each month when you make a budget, take some extra time to find the special expenses for that month. They may be based on holidays, family occasions or extra bills to pay.
3. Special charitable contributions
You might do this more during the holidays or after a big disaster (such as the Haiti earthquake or Superstorm Sandy). In addition to any church donations you make, you might be considering kicking in a little extra to help out those in need.
4. Safe deposit box fees
If you have one of these at your local bank, it usually has a yearly fee. Don’t forget about it when it comes due.
Someone in your household can get sick and need some extra medicine, and since it can come without warning, chances are you’ve already made your budget when it happens. You might consider some extra funding for your “medicine” category during the months when colds are most likely to hit.
The ultimate point is that you must always be vigilant with your budget. Many people want to put their budget on cruise control and just change the name at the top of the page from month to month. That’s a surefire way to forget about your expenses or not adjust them properly.
Take a close look at each month to see if you missed anything. Much like that barefoot walk mentioned above, you’ll be happy you did.