Planning for Surprises: What Not to Forget in Your Budget
One rule of thumb when developing your family budget is the famous 50/30/20 concept. This guideline advises families to spend no more than 50 percent of their monthly income on fixed costs like housing, utilities, or a car payment. Financial goals like retirement planning or college funds should take up 20 percent of your take-home revenue. Finally, 30 percent of your pay can be committed to variable costs like food or entertainment that might vary from week to week.
While this is a great guideline, you don’t want to be caught in a bind with your variable costs. Here are a few expenses you won’t want to forget to include in your planning.
Unfortunately, cars require occasional maintenance and we rely heavily on our vehicles to get us places throughout the day. You never know when your car will need a quick tune-up, new part, or repair. Make sure you budget a little bit for this unexpected expense in your monthly breakdown. But don’t just send your car to the shop whenever the check engine light comes on. If the check engine light is on, but the car is functioning normally and there are no strange noises, smells, or smoke, you can probably make it home and attempt a diagnosis yourself. If there is clanking, smoking, or a sudden drop in power and gas mileage, you should probably take it in before further damage is done and dip into your maintenance savings. If you don’t spend that money, however, set it aside to be used for this purpose later. Having a small reserve of money to take care of emergency vehicle expenses is a good way to keep your budget under control.
We’ve all been caught off-guard with a surprise invitation to a party. Whether it’s a birthday party, baby shower or wedding, social norms require that you not go empty-handed. Make sure you include space in your budget for gift-giving expenses. Keep track of your friends’ and relatives’ birthdays so you can plan for their gifts, and keep a little money in reserve each month for a simple surprise for an unexpected party. If you don’t spend it, keep it as a present to yourself for your superior planning.
Trips and Vacation Time
Everyone deserves a little break from the grind; however, with the rising cost of travel you won’t want to omit this line item from your family budget. Consider all aspects of the vacation including transportation, lodging, food and entertainment. If your employer does not offer paid vacation, you will also want to factor in the lost revenue associated with a vacation. Without paid leave, a vacation can cost more than just what you spend.
Taxes are a necessary evil. Many people engage the help of a tax professional in preparing the required documents. If you and your family rely on the help of an accountant to prepare your taxes you will want to remember to include these costs in your annual budget. Sometimes, hiring an accountant to ensure you receive
These are just a few of the expenses you might not traditionally think of when preparing your budget. Do a careful analysis of your expenditures and make sure to save enough each month to cover these expenses when they arise. With this proactive approach you can have peace of mind knowing your finances are in order and you are able to manage any surprises!
Marlena Stoddard is a freelance writer who received her BA from the University of Georgia. She currently resides in Atlanta with her husband, two kids, and puppy Molly Belle. Information in this article provided by Arnold Motor Supply.
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