Whether you’re a pro budgeter or just starting out, chances are that a few unexpected expenses sneak up on you each year. Budgets rarely are the same month to month, so how do we handle the “bad months?” The answer is simple: we anticipate and organize.
Money mistakes happen when we are caught off guard, so it is important to know which major expenses to anticipate so we can budget accordingly.
Here are 10 sneaky unexpected expenses you are forgetting to budget for:
Potential end of year taxes
Oh, tax season. We all love those tax returns, but what about when you find out you actually owe money? Not such a great feeling. Even if you feel confident that you will be getting a return, it is always best to be prepared and have extra savings just in case. The last thing you want is the IRS chasing after you for money you can’t pay. Personally, I make sure that I’m always building up my emergency fund in case something like this happens.
Back to school supplies
I can’t believe it’s almost back to school time already! If you have school-aged children, back to school means a whole lot of expenses. Supplies like backpacks, markers, binders, clothing and shoes rapidly fill your cart and empty your wallet, if you’re not prepared.
Vehicle property tax
Depending where you live, your state may require you to pay a vehicle property tax. When I moved to South Carolina after college, I had no idea that I had to pay property tax on my vehicle until I receive the bill. Don’t be like me! Research and mark the date that the tax is due and save monthly for it.
How is it that the holidays manage to sneak up on everyone? They are the same time every year! Nonetheless, setting aside money for holiday gifts each month will ensure that you won’t have that surprise bill or worse, credit card debt after the season. Even better, you can be on the lookout for gifts year round and save some money!
While gas is relatively inexpensive now, we all have felt the weight of high gas prices. Always budget a little extra for fuel, because it is out of your control. If you’re like me and commute every day, this could result in a huge increase in expenses every month. It is best to be prepared.
If you are enrolled in a High Deductible Health plan, you are eligible for a Health Savings Account (HSA). Simply put – HSAs are awesome. You can use them for any health expense, whether it be for the doctor or to buy band-aids. Because you can contribute to your HSA pre-tax, it’s in your best interest to budget enough to reach the maximum contributions for this account ($3,350 for an individual; $6,750 for a family in 2016). Unlike an FSA, the total amount in your HSA rolls over year after year.
Car insurance increase
Another somewhat unexpected expense is car insurance. If you do see an increase, that’s no excuse to lower your coverage. Instead, shop around often and don’t get stuck being comfortable with one company. Ask your insurance company if they have any discounts applicable to you.
As much as I try to buy swimsuits and sandals on super sale after the summer is over, it seems that when summer rolls around again, I always need something. Take a look at your clothing budget. If you can’t allocate more money to clothing, then rearrange your budget to allow more for the beginning and end of seasons and buy less in between.
Health insurance increases
It’s no secret that health insurance costs are rising rapidly. More often than not, it is costing your employers more as well – it’s not their fault! No matter your financial situation, health insurance is imperative to protect not only your health but your finances in the long-term should something bad happen. Be prepared for increases and reevaluate your plan annually.
Another sneaky unexpected expense, birthdays are difficult because there are so many throughout the year. Whether it’s friends, family or coworkers, you won’t want to miss anyone’s birthday. At the beginning of the year, make a list of who you need to buy gifts for, when their birthdays are and how much you will spend on each individual.
While it is impossible to anticipate every expense, you can look ahead and prepare for most of your annual expenses. Anticipating your expenses saves you from completely blowing your budget or landing in more consumer debt, and gets you one step closer to becoming financially free!
Rachel Foxwell is a writer and full-time marketer who is passionate about teaching others about money management. Rachel graduated college with $28,000 of student loans, which she is working furiously to pay off. To document her journey in finding financial freedom, Rachel created a blog to help other millennials with their finances and career. You can read more about her at her blog, www.thelattebudget.com.