When putting together a budget most people begin by gathering all of their bills together and then sitting down and figuring out where the money needs to go each month. Many people base their budget solely on the bills they pay and add in the cost of groceries, and then wonder why their budget never seems to work out. There are five common categories that people often leave out of their budgets. By adding these in you may be able to do a better job of tracking your spending
and getting your spending under control
1. Eating Out
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Most people remember to put groceries
in their budget. Food is essential to survival, but they either lump the eating out and grocery category together or do not budget for eating out at all. If you do eat out even once a month you need to include this item in your budget. Lunches at work may need to be broken into a separate category as well. Breaking down where you food money is going will give you more control and motivation
to limit your spending in these categories. If you realize that you are spending a hundred dollars a week on your work lunches, you may decide that packing your lunch is worth the saving you will receive.
2. Pick Me Up Spending
This is spending that you do on a regular basis to help you get through the day. For some people it may be a trip to your local coffee shop on the way to work each morning. Or it may be a trip to the convenience store for a soda and candy bar on the way home or during your lunch break. It may be the extra candy bar you slip into your cart whenever you run into the grocery store. It may be the extra book you buy each week for your commute or a DVD rental. You do not usual budget for this because the spending amount is small usually less than five dollars, but it can add up quickly if you are doing it on a daily basis. This is one very common area where people have a budget weakness
, and it does need to be addressed. You do not need to stop this type of spending all together, but you should include it in your budget so that you can figure out how much you want to spend on it each month.
3. Entertainment CostsA night out at a bar, or going to the movies with your friends should definitely be part of your budget. Many people will cut back drastically on this category, and then end up either overspending or feeling frustrated because they can’t afford to do anything. You should have an entertainment category that will allow you to spend time doing the things that help you to relax. You may need to cut back to one or two nights out a month and look for less expensive alternatives.
4. ClothingIf you do not love shopping for clothes, you may leave this item out of your budget. If you are focused on getting out of debt, you may be diverting all of your money to extra debt payments. Leaving clothing out of your budget means that needing a new pair of shoes, or new pants may throw your entire budget out of whack. Budget a little bit each month and allow the balance to grow so you can cover the items you need when you need them.
5. Annual Payments
Another area that causes problems for many people are the payments that are due once or twice a year. In the initial budget you may just forget to include it in your budget, until you are presented with the bill. Another common thing you may forget are annual home taxes, car taxes and registration. One easy way to plan for these items is to add up the total you paid in the last year and then divide it by twelve. Set aside this amount each month so you will have money to cover the upcoming bills. You should also set up a category to cover irregular spending like the cost of attending a friend's wedding
. This can help you set up an annual budget
that actually helps you reach your financial goals.