Let’s be honest: How often have you gone overbudget because of an unplanned expense that ‘came up’? Or missed a great deal because you had no money left in the budget? Or couldn’t do something or go somewhere because of money?
If you are a budgeter, you probably budget for your rent/mortgage, your monthly utility bills, gas, Netflix and all other recurring expenses that are fairly fixed or at least very predictable or in your control.
A budget is only as good as its accuracy.
However, I noticed that for quite a while, I forgot to budget for many things that used to bust my budget. I was never getting ahead. Not because I was buying ‘unnecessary’ things, but because expenses or bills came up that I didn’t consider. For some reason, I was always over budget.
This is when your carefully drafted budget goes out of the window. Planning and forecasting is everything, my friend. Good budgeting is a skill of making realistic predictions about your expenses.
While nobody can predict the future, it is great to know you are prepared, no matter what and you can cover the expense, predicted or not. The best way to be prepared is to budget for it.
It’s those ‘unexpected’ expenses are those that hurt most. You might feel like you are ‘just not good at budgeting’ or your ‘budget is not working’ when you get derailed every single time.
Your budget gets derailed is by two things:
- Forgetting to budget for something
- Underestimating the amount you spend (underbudgeting)
It can be things like friends crashing which means more people to feed and a bottle (or two) of wine added extra costs that I didn’t see coming. It can be a wedding invitation that makes you feel more stressed than excited.
The secret to a working budget is to ‘overbudget’ and plan for things I did not plan for or that get forgotten easily, such as…
Everything needs repairing or maintenance at some point. Makes sense. And still, those feel like these nasty, unforeseen expenses that hurt most. The amount of times I had to drive to the hardware store for screws, dowels, sealing, special glue or extra tools… And these are just the tip of the iceberg. Add a handyman, or a proper service bill and boom, there goes your monthly contribution to the Gucci slippers.
This does not apply exclusively to the home or cars by the way. Talking about slippers: repairs on my beloved shoes and bags, altering or mending of clothes does in fact save you money on buying new, but has to budgeted for still.
I see it as my own little insurance fund for that I contribute a certain amount to every month. I like to take care of myself myself.
#2 Bulk Buys
I am one of those people I like to buy some things in larger packs on Amazon. It actually saves me money because the cost per item is much lower. That’s the whole point of buying in bulk, right? However, the initially ‘higher’ expense of a bulk buy or an amazing offer or sale… is still money you need to advance.
Many people buy a ton to save money but feel like they end up spending all the time. A bit of a Catch 22, isn’t it?
But it also sucks to have to miss out on an actually great deal because it doesn’t fit the current budget.
Typical things I buy in bulk are replacement brush heads for my electric toothbrush, Brita water filter cartridges, my Gilette Venus razor blades, printer refills, … anything I don’t want to run out of and then have to buy the ‘more expensive’ ones available. How many times have I forgotten to bring my shaver on trips and had to rebuy an item I had at home #facepalm. I don’t hoard food, but I my stress levels go up dramatically when I run out of shavers or other lady essentials…
The thing about buying in bulk is you save money in the long run, but you don’t see it directly reflected in your budget because the one time ‘larger’ expense is just that: an expense. With the subscription function on Amazon is a great savings opportunity, provided you do it right, meaning you buy things that you buy anyway but for more for elsewhere.
Determine how much money it really saves you, don’t just hoard things you don’t need.
I buy only things I need and want, and I like a good deal on Amazon. But make sure you don’t end up spending more money to save money by budgeting for these like you would for the regular expense.
Let’s be honest: nothing lasts forever.
Similarly to my repair category, I put some moneys in a little corner in your budget for things that are not salvageable (you can keep it the same category). The things that break most often are small appliances and electronics. My mom still has a kitchen blender from 30 years ago, which I might inherit one day. Guess that’s the price you pay for Made in China versus Made in Germany, but anyhoe… the lifespan of small electronics and appliances is fairly short. I generally calculate 3-5 years, depending on the heaviness of usage.
Don’t forget laptops, smartphones fall in the same category. Whether you see them as lifestyle, luxury or necessary expenses… I guess it is a lifestyle choice of mine to opt for Apple forever and always. Still, my ‘new iPhone’ and ‘new MacBook’ funds are always fully funded in case I have to replace it. Nothing worse than your laptop going black and no money to get a new one asap. Or a coffee machine. Or earphones. You will lose them, or throw in the washing machine accidentally. Yep, true story.
Others are obviously ‘breaking’ things like glasses, plates, vases, mugs, …
You are going to drop them eventually. Not a huge drama, but how cool to be able to restock to a fully set. (That’s why I buy things from collections and brands that don’t discontinue as fast, so I don’t end up with a mismatched mug collection. Again, OCD.)
Put some extra money in your ‘in case something breaks’ category. Estimate the cost of replacement of your most ‘fragile’ items at home that are not covered by any insurance and see yourself smiling at checkout when you can buy the latest and greatest without a cringe or swipe of credit card.
Instead of hoping nothing goes wrong or lamenting about things always happening to you at the worst time or having to tap your savings… just budget for it and you’re gooooood. Plus, you avoid having to buy the cheap crappy stuff just because you need a quick replacement and have no spare money.
#4 Typical Amazon Buys
They are always an impulse purchase or necessity buy.
Cables, adapters, chargers, spare battery packs, phone cases, display protectors, travel gimmicks, … All those typical Amazon items that end up in your shopping cart. They are between 5 and 50 bucks but we all need them and buy them. I checked my last orders on Amazon and those are the usual suspects. Everyone needs them but nobody budgets for them.
#5 Black Friday
Love to save money on a sale? But do you save for the sale?
I have things on my wishlist (read: budget) that I don’t need asap and wait for a good deal to come my way. I rarely ever go bananas on Black Friday. It is just another sale. And I also know quite well what I want. But IF there is a great deal on something I have been eyeing for a while and still want, I can buy it without hard feelings.
I budget for these, expecting to pay full price and actually save the difference, putting into savings. That’s how we save here, friends.
#6 Home Organization
people I love buying but nobody budgets for them. I loooove home organization, so I kinda never stop dragging in containers, drawer dividers, baskets, trays, jars, … you name it. I tend to need rather more than less (do you also wonder where all your Tupperware is going?!) The typical Ikea/Amazon trap. They are handy, we all know you want them, you need them, so budget for them.
#7 Big Items
Mattresses, sofas, ovens, fridges, travel luggage, but also laptops and smartphones (see above) or… The typical sinking funds. They are larger one-time expenses that hurt in your pocket, unless you have planned for them in advance. But most of us don’t. These can be small and big things you probably need and don’t want to buy last minute or under pressure and can’t really afford not to have.
When we buy them, we expect them to be set for a few years and hope not to have to worry about it for a while (fingers crossed). But guess what, there is always something, am I right?
You will need a new [insert item] at some point. I replaced my mattress way earlier than planned because -turns out- it was too soft for me after all and it was affecting the quality of my very much needed and appreciated sleep.
I remember when the wheels of my suitcase fell off on a trip and I needed a new one asap. Since I don’t cheapskate on things that I want to last me years (like suitcases), I needed replacement and took it as a sign from the universe to spend some money on a good travel set. Plus I am bit OCD about matching travel accessories and I like things that are functional, good quality, long lasting and please my eye. But these usually come with a price tag.
I love having cash laying around designated for these types of expenses. And yes, it sucks having to replace them ‘too early’, but I’m the type of girl I’d rather spend money on something solid now than have crappy sleep for the next two years, or dragging a wheel-less suitcase through Athens. Priorities.
#8 Fun Things
We all know that treating yourself is important for your sanity. But be honest: Do you really budget for it? Do you feel guilty when you want to spend on yourself, thinking you shouldn’t spend, feeling irresponsible and selfish?
Budgeting for something gives you permission to spend – in advance.
It is crucial that you consider yourself and fun things like shopping, a massage, or ANYTHING your fancy in your budget. Not for the sake of keeping yourself from overspending but giving yourself room in your budget for the things that are for you. That’s the whole point of you taking care of your finances in the first place. So you can do more of what you love. If you don’t do it now, you will never. Learn to spend on yourself without judgement. That’s what a budget helps you do.
A bouquet of fresh flowers is an amazing investment in yourself and you can buy it totally guilt-free when you budget for it.
You tell your money what you value by the things you spend money on. So be mindful and spend money on things that bring you joy.
I love to budget because it makes me look forward to things and experiences so much more! We value things more when we have stake ( = money) in it.
#9 Impulse Purchases
Most people budget to avoid impulse purchases.
However, I budget for them on purpose. Impulse is not always a bad thing. Some of my spontaneous buys are my best purchases to date. I love having money for spending on unique pieces in beautiful little boutiques or markets when I am travelling. I like to spend on my trip, not just on the trip itself.
When you budget for it, you can buy that amazing dress, blouse etc. entirely without feeling like an undisciplined impulse shopper, questioning whether it was the right decision or not.
Whether it’s a peanut-toffee bar, a Starbucks, a desperately needed massage or fabulous pair of shoes… I leave the little extra wiggle room for spontaneity without ever breaking the bank or second-guessing my decisions.
Give yourself room for impulse and spontaneity by putting money on it. It’s the best bet.
From my own experience, it also helps me determine whether I truly want and like something enough to buy it or not. I have become really good at listening to my gut. Many of you tell me they feel much less triggered to ‘rebel’ against their own budget or throw in the towel altogether when there’s space in the budget for a little decadence.
#10 Stationery and Other Small Expenses
Envelopes, pens, folders, notepads, stamps, planners,… they don’t cost the world but those add up and you always run out before you know it. Also, they are often bought either from necessity or impulse. I need boxes, wrapping paper, ribbon all the time and don’t like to shop these last-minute.
Plan for those, too.
Record your spending on all the ‘tiny’ expenses you hadn’t planned for or forgot. Draw an average and add that to your monthly budget.
#11 Home & Seasonal Decorations
I love decorations and home decor but I have a hard limit on how much I buy and am willing to spend on ‘knick-knacks’. It is easy to get carried away with seasonal decorations because they are so prettaaaay! But they take up a lot of space in your home AND your budget. I have a designated home decorations budget but I only buy stuff I love and matches my style and/or can be repurposed like candles and trays I can use all year round with minor changes.
Consider buying seasonal things off-season (like fairy lights etc.). Less pressure, better choice and prices. And get rid of the ones you don’t use before you buy new. I have a ‘one in-one out’ rule for things that I keep in storage anyway most of the year.
#12 Any Non-Monthly or Annual Expenses
Forgot again that your annual Amazon Prime fee is due this month? Need a haircut, bikini wax, or your insurance premium is due?
I budget for these on a monthly basis, so I have the money available when I need it. I go to the hairdresser for a cut & color every three months, so I split it evenly and pay myself a monthly contribution.
Non-monthly expenses are the trickiest. Budget for them every month and let your money sit until they’re due.
#13 Gifts, Weddings and Parties
Birthdays and Christmas rarely are surprising but… do you really always have them fully funded and all gifts sorted?
Same with parties you need a new outfit for or have to get to.
Since I am fairly resourceful, I can always come up with an outfit to make me feel fab. But what if you get invited to some party, occasion out of the blue and really don’t want to miss and need a full outfit for it? Or you need to travel cross country?
I don’t believe it is ever a good idea to skip a good party and miss opportunities to spend time with friends and family and collect wonderful memories with your loved ones because of money. They don’t come back and t sucks to say NO because of money.
But it can mean a deep bump in the budget.
I also plan for things like these. Set aside an amount that will cover for those experiences, so you are always liquid.
#14 Any Unplanned Things
Aka. ‘stuff I forgot to budget for’. This category used to be the biggest money drain for all the reasons (= forgotten items) above, and now requires only minimal funding because I have become so much more aware and have adjusted over time.
I make what I save for extremely specific. If you don’t buy it or find a good deal, then it really is cash in your pocket, not just ‘mental savings’.
I don’t experience the pain of having to tap my savings (anymore) and I don’t have a typical emergency fund (anymore) because things like these are no emergencies to me – because I budget for them. And I rarely get angry or bitter when things need fixing or replacing. It gives me so much peace of mind. My budget allows me to live in abundance and just pay for things as I go. Easy.
It is a mindset thing. Once you can purchase something without feeling any guilt around it, you step into true abundance. When you can pay for a new coffee machine without clenching your teeth, that’s abundance.
Abundance can be created on purpose.
Now, is your head spinning a bit from all the things you need to add to your monthly budget? Sounds like a lot, right?
It is actually super easy, I look at my expenses ahead of time and put extra money in all the categories that I like to fund.
You can use a simple spreadsheet or an app. I like YNAB for budgeting, it works great to budget extra on things and adding custom categories. It makes it super easy to let your money sit and see exactly which categories are funded and where you need to add some money. You can enter your goals with due dates (like annual fees, vacations) and it will remind you to budget for it. Or you can determine a monthly funding goal. It’s awesome and works beautifully.
You cannot overspend. You can just underbudget.
And you don’t HAVE to spend what you budget for. But you CAN. That’s the beauty of it. By ‘over-budgeting’ for everything, you build an emergency fund completely effortlessly without the negativity of saving for an emergency.
Budgeting is a mindset thing for me. Never ever have I ever felt scarcity when budgeting, just because the simple act of budgeting makes it feel so good to know I have money for all the things I want. (This was a process, though.) And I can plan for them and spend with ease.
To me, budgeting never creates restriction but OVERFLOW. Because I budget, I have so much money available for the things that matter to me.
Budgeting is not about perfection, but practice. Just like with meditation or yoga, you need to show up, respect where you are now, and just do it. You become better with time.
I hope I could help you out a bit with these common budgeting misses. I know it helped me a lot to really budget for EVERYTHING, so I actually HAVE money for everything.
What do you think? Anything you forget to budget for?