If you are struggling each month to pay your bills, pay off your debt, or are living paycheck to paycheck, chances are you need a budget.
A budget is a key component of a financial plan. Making a budget is a great way to help you manage your spending and start working towards your financial goals. If you are thinking about going on a cash diet to curb your overspending habits, having a budget will also come in handy.
Each budget will be different for everyone; however, there is a basic formula you can follow when creating one which is called the 50/30/20 budget. This budget implies that up to 50% of your income should be used for necessities, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings.
As important as it is to have a budget, it is also extremely important to know how to make one and what items should be included.
This post will discuss some of the necessary (but often overlooked) items to incorporate into your budget. Let’s dive in!
No one knows when they are going to have an emergency. And often times, they come at the worst possible time when you are not expecting them. Set aside a small portion of your monthly income and put it into an emergency fund. That way, if any type of emergency arises such as car issues, medical emergencies or pet emergencies, you won’t need to take any money out of your savings.
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As stated above, savings are a crucial part of your budget. A good rule of thumb is to put anywhere from 20%-50% of your monthly income into personal and retirement savings. Saving 50% of monthly income may seem high to some, but this strongly depends on your financial goals.
When creating a budget, some people will often group savings and debt repayment together. Debt should be a completely different portion of your budget. It should also be a major focus to pay it off as quickly as possible.
Setting money aside each month for taxes is extremely important, especially if you run your own business or have a successful side hustle. Know how much tax you will have to pay, set that money aside and don’t spend it!
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Budgets don’t always need to include strict expenses. Traveling and family vacations should be relaxing and should not leave you feeling stressed and broke.
To avoid this, put a small portion of your income towards travel. This way when the time comes to kick your feet up and unwind, you won’t feel like you are breaking the bank.
6. Holidays and Birthdays
Holidays, gifts, birthdays, parties… These expenses can all add up fast.
Instead of stressing out about getting through the holidays without swiping that credit card over and over, make some room in your budget for holidays and birthdays. This will ensure that you are prepared and don’t overspend or create debt throughout the year.
7. Personal maintenance/Essentials
Personal maintenance is important and necessary for some. These expenses can include haircuts, vitamins, cosmetics, toiletries, etc. These expenses can also add up quickly if you are purchasing them once a month and should be included in your budget.
Subscription services are expenses that are typically charged once per month. There are many different subscription services out there which can include food subscriptions, subscription boxes, show subscriptions, carwash subscriptions and many more. These expenses should be totaled and included in your budget each month.
Memberships (just like subscriptions) are monthly costs that need to be accounted for in a budget. These can include gym memberships, wholesale club memberships, etc.
10. Annual costs
Auto registration fees, annual health check-ups, homeowners’ taxes, annual insurance premiums, etc. are typically larger costs. They can really sneak up fast and cause financial hardship if you are not prepared for them.
Make sure to make room in the budget for these large, annual expenses.
11. Dates/Eating out
Dates and eating out are luxury-type items that should be accounted for in your budget. Even the most frugal of people still eat out and catch a movie sometimes. It is important to have some money set aside specifically for date nights and dining out.
Driving your own vehicle can definitely be a luxury depending on where you live. But vehicles need gas and regular maintenance (like tire rotations and oil changes).
These costs should be accounted for in your budget each month along with any type of ridesharing or other transportation methods you use.
13. Daily expenses
Daily expenses might not come up often, but it is nice to have money set aside for when they do. They could include a morning coffee, parking fees, spontaneous store purchases, spontaneous charity contributions, etc.
As strange as it sounds having a specific category for your children listed in your budget, it may be necessary. If you have children, you could set aside money each month for childcare, clothes, schooling, toys, shoes, or any trips that you may send them on.
15. Rent/Mortgage payment
Your rent/mortgage payment is typically your highest expense each month. This should be one of the first items listed on your budget as it is a necessity.
It is best to put money into this category first over all luxury-type items.
16. House maintenance/Repairs
Along with paying for your mortgage each month, you will also need to set money aside for typical house maintenance and repairs.
Sometimes home repairs can get expensive, so prepare accordingly.
Entertainment is another cost that should be included in your budget. This could include books, renting or buying movies/shows, puzzles, etc.
These costs are small but should definitely be accounted for!
Work clothes, gym clothes, shoes… We all need these types of items from time to time.
I don’t recommend going on an all-day shopping spree each month, however, there should definitely be some money set aside for wardrobe emergencies in your budget.
The act of giving can be extremely rewarding. If you are someone who loves to give to charity or provide offerings, I recommend creating a Giving fund within your budget.
Investing is one of the best ways to grow your wealth and save for your future. In order to maximize your growth, it is best to put money aside each month to invest with.
Insurance is great to have for many reasons. You may have health insurance, homeowner’s insurance, vehicle insurance, life insurance, etc. Make sure this is accounted for on your budget.
22. Other miscellaneous bills
After all of the above expenses are taken into account, you may have a few stray bills that need to be included into the budget.
If you have a phone bill, internet bill, electricity bill, or any other bill each month, this will need to be included into the budget as well.
Although creating a budget seems like a daunting task, it is important to regulate your spending. It will also greatly help you to take control of your finances if you have struggled in the past with managing your money.
After you have created your budget (or an anti-budget), it is important to consistently monitor and track your spending as the months go on. Sign up for Bella’s newsletter and get a free copy of the monthly expense tracker that she personally uses!
Either way, consistency is key!