6 Easy to Forget Expenses to Include in Your Budget

Creating a budget is never easy, as it can take months or even years to perfect the process. And on top of that, life is always changing – so a budget that worked a few months ago might not necessarily work now.

One of the most common reasons people find budgeting so hard is because there are so many different expenses to keep track of. The big ones, like housing and food, are obvious. But there are so many little things we forget about that can derail a budget from the start. The next time you evaluate your budget, consider these six expenses that people often forget:

Celebrations

It seems like every week, we’re always celebrating something. From birthdays to weddings to holidays, our schedules are jam packed with social events. However, we often forget that these celebrations come with hefty price tags. Gifts, travel costs, and party attire can add up quickly. Not accounting for these items can really throw your budget off. For example, if you know you have a few weddings coming up in the next year, make sure to set aside funds to cover any associated costs. Also be sure to increase your budget during the holiday season to account for gifts and travel.

Pet Care

We love our pets, but there’s no denying that caring for them can get expensive. We tend to only think of pet care expenses in terms of things they use everyday, like food, but any pet owner knows that there are many other major costs associated with furry friends. Health care, including regular veterinary visits, are a big one. Grooming and pet sitting is another. These are expenses for your pet that may not happen every month, but they’re regular enough that you should include them in your budget.

Coffee

Any good budget will include a category for food and dining, but don’t forget to include your coffee in there as well. We all know how much a cup of coffee can cost – anywhere from $2 for a regular cup to $6 for a latte. It’s something many of us can’t live without and it definitely adds up. Whether you make your own or go to your local Starbucks, make sure you understand how much you’re really spending every month.

Home Maintenance

Owning a home is a dream to many, but when that dream finally comes true, many first-time homeowners are unpleasantly surprised by the cost of home maintenance. Aside from utilities, and minor repairs, there are many recurring expenses, such as lawn maintenance and weather proofing that homeowners often forget. Expenses like these drive up the cost of owning a home considerably.

‘Me’ Fund

When we’re trying to stick to a tight budget, we often forget about ourselves. If you’re trying to cut your budget, spending on things you enjoy is likely the first expense to go. Don’t underestimate the value of having a ‘me’ fund though. It can be anything, from a night out or a pedicure, but doing even something small from time to time can drastically improve your mood and increase your productivity.

Emergency Fund

The one thing people most often forget to account for is an emergency fund. This is also the most important. With all that’s going on, saving up for a rainy day is probably the last thing on your mind. But as with life, you never really know what can happen, and you need an emergency fund to protect you from whatever life throws your way. Your budget should include a portion to set aside for emergencies. Many recommend that you have 3 months of expenses on hand at any given moment. You can decide the amount you’re comfortable with and slowly save up for it. Just remember to make this a priority.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

4 Simple Ways to Stick to Your Budget

When you’re adjusting to keeping a budget, it can be tempting to give up. If you’re having trouble staying with your budget, here are a few things that could help.

Keep it real: Maybe you didn’t allot enough money in certain areas of your budget. If this is the case, try and find a happy medium that is more realistic so you can still cut back a little bit.

Automate when you can: Having trouble saving? We’ve all been there. If you have direct deposit at work, figure out how much you want to put aside every month, and have that amount automatically put into your savings account. This way, you can set it and forget it.

Be flexible: When you’re originally planning a budget, you may think you know exactly how much you plan on spending. While that sounds great in theory, you’ll probably have to reassess things a few times. Make sure your budget includes some flexible money that you can use in different areas when needed.

Be patient: Don’t spend it all in one place. If you drain your budget in the first week, the rest of the month is going to be a lot less fun. Do your best to make your money last each month, and it’ll be a lot more pleasant.

Need help with your budget? Check out our budgeting guide!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

4 Ways You’re Wasting Your Hard-Earned Money

There are lots of tips and tricks to save money. A lot of times we even know we’re wasting money, but we don’t do anything to change it. Sometimes we enjoy what we get in return for that money, sometimes it’s easier when we spend the money, and sometimes we’re in denial that we’re throwing money away. Whatever the case may be, here are a few ways you may be tossing your money away.

Paying for a gym membership:  A lot of people with gym memberships make good use of their membership cards. Some signed up as a new year’s resolution and have made good progress since that time. Then there’s those of us who haven’t been in the last month or two (or more), and are basically flushing money down the drain. If you truly aren’t using your gym membership, see if you can freeze it – or cancel it altogether.

Eating fast food: Yes, it’s delicious. You probably think it’s quick and easy, and while that may be true, you’re forgetting one thing. It also used to be cheap. That’s not the case these days. You’re much better off going to the grocery store. A meal that costs $12 at the drive-thru can probably be made by you at home for $4.

Grabbing a quick snack: You probably look at a quick stop at your local Wawa (or wherever your favorite snack spot is) as no big deal. It doesn’t even crack your budget. Spending 2-3 dollars isn’t a huge thing, but when you start doing it every day it can be a problem. Before you know it, you’re spending each week what you would spend on a couple of fast food trips without budgeting for it. Be careful your snacks don’t get out of control and break your budget.

Buying items on your smartphone: Making purchases on your smartphone is a super-easy process these days. You can search on your phone and buy something on Amazon in less than 20 seconds. You can buy cool apps and songs with the touch of your finger. Be mindful of these purchases however, because if you’re not careful, they’ll really add up.

Need help budgeting your money? Check out our budgeting guide!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

5 Ways to Budget Being a Wedding Guest

Wedding season is upon us! When it feels like everyone you know is getting married, it can be overwhelming on your budget. Whether you are invited to weddings of friends, family members, or co-workers, here’s how to stay on budget.

Make a Yearly Budget.

How much can you afford to spend on weddings, parties, and gifts this year? Set a budget and stick to it. If your entire budget for the whole year is $600, then realistically, you may only be able to attend one or two weddings for the year, while still having money left over for other events and birthdays.

It is wise to divide your yearly budget by 12 and save up a little each month. This way you will have money set aside for a future wedding and the expense won’t be an unpleasant surprise to your budget.

It’s Okay to Say No.

It is important to prioritize events in your life, especially if you are on a tight budget or schedule. As much as you might like your co-workers, you don’t need to attend every event they invite you to. This goes for friends you have grown apart from.

There is no need to explain that money is an issue. Instead, graciously decline, saying that you have another commitment that day but that you hope their day is an amazing one. It’s important to tell the couple no right away if you know you won’t be attending, so that they can plan accordingly.

Remember to Count All the Costs.

As a wedding guest, your costs aren’t just the gift you give to the couple. You also have to calculate associated costs like attire, travel expenses, babysitter costs, etc. You might spend $100 on a gift, but a wedding can end up costing you more than double the gift amount after you calculate all of the other costs.

If you are part of the wedding, your costs are multiplied, considering the costs of wedding party attire, alterations, make up, hair, and all of the wedding events you are required to attend, such as showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties. Only assume the financial responsibility for close friends and family members if money is a concern.

Contribute to Group Gifts.

Try to contribute to a group gift if you can’t afford to give a large gift by yourself. Not only will you save money, but you will help fund a gift the couple really wants. This is an especially good idea for co-workers, since many people will feel obliged to give a gift but will want to save money.

DIY Gifts – Please Don’t.

While DIY projects save a lot of money in other areas of your life, it is probably best to give even a small amount of money or gift card – rather than risking a handmade gift. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, like if you are extremely talented or the couple requests a handmade gift.

If you plan ahead and save a little at a time, sticking to your wedding guest budget will be a no brainer!

Article Source: Ashley Eneriz for MoneyNing.com

5 Ways to Be on Top of Your Budget

calculator and piggy-bank with glasses on white background

Be realistic. Keep going over budget on certain things? Maybe you didn’t allot enough money in those areas. If this is the case, try and find a happy medium that is more realistic so you can still cut back a little bit.

Be automatic. Are you having trouble saving? Do you have direct deposit at work? If so, figure out how much you want to put aside every month, and have that money automatically put into your savings account. This way, you can set it and forget it.

Be thorough. When you’re setting up your budget you may tell yourself, “I’m going to go out to eat twice a week.” Well That sounds great in theory, but what happens when you want to celebrate your friend’s new promotion? Where’s that money coming from? Make sure your budget includes some flexible money that you can use in different areas when needed.

Be patient. Don’t spend your entire monthly budget of any one area at the beginning of the month. Sure, that awesome new movie is coming out at the first of the month, but slow down. There’s probably some other things you’re going to want to do before the end of the month, so keep that in mind and spread your money out.

Be nice. You’re an awesome person who should be rewarded for staying on budget each month. Give yourself a little cash to splurge each month, even if it’s no more than an ice cream cone. Ice cream is awesome and so are you!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

6 Ways to Tweak Your Budget This Year

Pencil on the statement of payroll details

Just because February is here doesn’t mean you should already be neglecting to improve your finances. In fact, no matter your resolutions (or if you’ve already abandoned them), it’s always a good idea to work on your finances.

If you’re looking for ways to tweak your budget to better effect this year, then here are some strategies you can follow to spend less and save more:

1. Factor in Infrequent Expenses

One of the biggest pitfalls of budgeting is forgetting about infrequent expenses. Some expenses may only be paid quarterly, or perhaps even once a year. It’s easy to forget to include them in the budget, especially if you create your budget during a month when you’re not making the payment. The fix is easy though.

As you tweak your budget this year, spend the extra bit of time to look ahead for infrequent expenses and include them. Break them down into monthly costs so that they are accounted for. Also ensure that the money is already there when they are withdrawn from your account.

2. Don’t Count on Irregular Income

Many of us like to look ahead and estimate our income. Unfortunately, we often over-estimate what is coming in. We rely on our estimates too heavily whether it’s a bonus at work, a tax refund or some other windfall. Instead of factoring future income into your budget, consider pretending it doesn’t exist. That way, when you do get a windfall, you can bank that instead of spending it. This way, you don’t end up in trouble if the extra money doesn’t appear like you thought it would.

3. Boost Your Savings

You can also use more no matter how much you’re setting aside, so look for ways to boost your savings. Even an extra $15 a week can help in the long run. Consider changing how much is taken from your paycheck and contribute it to your retirement account. You can also put more in your emergency fund. Just make a small tweak to the amount to make a difference down the road.

4. Check into Your Subscriptions

When was the last time you reviewed your subscriptions? Look at where your money is going on a monthly basis. If you aren’t using subscriptions, change things up so you aren’t spending on what you no longer use.

5. Review Your Insurance

Every six months or before renewal, do a quick comparison of your insurance policies. Could you be saving more elsewhere? If it looks like you can get a better quote someplace else, let your insurer know and ask for a match. If you haven’t changed your insurance for a few years, you might be surprised at what’s available and how much a quick search can save you.

6. Sign Up for Cash Back Sites

If you aren’t using a cash back site, now’s a good time to do so. Sign up for Ebates and Swagbucks to get some of your purchase-price back. Between these sites, plus use of a rewards or cash back credit card to pay, you could end up with serious savings overall. Yes, you want to spend less, but you also want to get a little back for the spending you do.

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Article Source: Miranda Marquit for MoneyNing.com