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We know that we need to include things like rent or mortgage, car payments, groceries and utilities in our budget. These aren’t the things that are getting us off track every month, though.  So, what are the things that you should be budgeting for but aren’t? There are 10 commonly forgotten items to make sure you’re including so you don’t blow your budget.

Forgotten Budget Categories. Piggy bank with calculator.

When we first got serious about our budget, we outlined what a month should look like, but we were still coming up short each month. We didn’t know why we didn’t have as much leftover as we believed we should. As we combed through our statements, there were a few items we should have been budgeting for but weren’t.

So if you’re having a similar issue in your personal finances, there are ten things you need to ensure you’re incorporate into your budget each month.

Top 10 Items You are Probably Missing in Your Budget

1. SAVINGS

This is where I recommend a concept called “pay yourself first.”  Once you have calculated your income and fixed expenses, you will be left with a remaining amount that can be allocated towards variable expenses, savings, and debt. Variable expenses include things like groceries, dining out, entertainment, and other expenses that you decide how much you will spend each month.

Once you have your remaining amount calculated, ‘pay yourself first’ by putting money towards savings before allocating money anywhere else.

Related: A Simple Cashless Envelope System to Track Your Spending

Oftentimes, we say that we’ll save whatever we have left at the end of the month. The end of the month arrives, there’s nothing left, and we have zero in our savings. Paying yourself first makes you more intentional about building your savings.

If you feel like you don’t have the self-control to put money into savings manually, you can create a savings fund that automatically withdraws from your paycheck. We do an automatic transfer of our savings so it feels like we never had it to begin with.

We became accustomed to seeing that smaller paycheck with our savings already taken out.

2. QUARTERLY AND ANNUAL BILLS

Almost everyone has a bill or bills that need to be paid quarterly, bi-annually or annually. We dread when the bill comes in the mail, because we don’t have that large dollar amount available.

A few examples of these expenses include:

  • HOA fees
  • Annual Subscriptions or Memberships (ie. Costco, Thrive Market)
  • Self-Employment Taxes
  • Car Registration fees 

Saving a small amount out of every single paycheck towards these large expenses is a huge relief when it comes time to actually pay.

$20 out of every paycheck isn’t nearly as painful on our budget as $480 is as a one-time payment.

Free 25-Page Ultimate Budget Binder

3. SUBSCRIPTIONS OR MONTHLY MEMBERSHIPS

Many monthly subscriptions or memberships are so low that we forget to include it into our budget. $10.99 for Netflix might not seem like that big of a deal, but what if you have 6-7 monthly memberships in a similar price range?

Not including these in your budget will have an impact on your ability to pay towards debt or increase your savings. $50-100 in memberships per month could be the difference between an emergency fund or using a credit card on unexpected expenses.

4. SPECIAL OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS

For years, I would dread Christmas, because I knew that we would be spending hundreds of dollars on Christmas gifts that we didn’t have in our budget. Too many Christmas gifts were put on credit cards.

As we got committed to our budget, we decided to plan ahead for these upcoming special occasions and holidays. 

This could include:

  • Family members’ birthdays
  • Anniversary
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Easter
  • Thanksgiving/Thanksgiving meal
  • Christmas

I don’t necessarily save for each of these throughout the entire year. I generally save for them within quarters of the year. It gives us 3 months to save up for a holiday in our savings account.

5. DATE NIGHT OR NIGHT OUT WITH FRIENDS

Do you ever wish that you could spend more time with your spouse, but it’s just so ridiculously expensive? 

The cost of a baby sitter, dinner, and an activity for two hours can easily reach $100+. If you’re like us and free family babysitters aren’t an option, allocate a portion of your budget towards saving for dates night as often as you can afford. Saving a little bit out of each paycheck towards a monthly (or every other month) date night can help fund the time you want to spend with your spouse.

6. FUN/BREATHING ROOM

One of the top reasons I hear for people not having a family budget is that they say it feels too restrictive or boring. It doesn’t have to feel that way if you plan appropriately.

Put a special category in your budget for things that you enjoy and keep you motivated in working towards your goals.

These can be things like:

  • Getting your eyebrows waxed
  • Manicures
  • Fancy coffee drinks once in a while
  • Zoo trips with the kids to get out of the house

No one is motivated to maintain their budget if they’re stuck at home constantly bored out of their minds.

One small example of this for myself is that I budget to get a venti iced coffee every time that I go grocery shopping. It keeps me from going through the Starbucks drive-thru constantly, but I know that I get a little treat each time I head to the store.

7. CLOTHING

It’s inevitable that someone in the family is going to need clothes.  Kids rip holes in their jeans at school and grow out of things faster than expected.

We as parents could even use a wardrobe update once in a while. Or maybe we need clothes for changing bodies during pregnancy and postpartum.

Saving money out of every paycheck towards clothing reduces the stress when it comes time to hit the stores.

I generally start a sinking fund for school clothing, because I know that this is the time of the year that I tend to spend the most money on clothing at one time. You know it’s coming, so start a fund at the beginning of the summer to plan in advance.

8. TRAVEL

Not many of us can drop $3000-4000 out of pocket for a big family vacation. Even if it’s a quarter of that, it’s still an expensive endeavor.

I recommend planning out your travel for the year and allocating money out of each paycheck towards this travel goal.

Related: How to Budget for Travel [Free Printable]

Also Read: How to Find the Best Budget-Friendly Travel Deals

It takes the spontaneity out of travel, but there’s zero stress. You can enjoy that vacation knowing that it has been paid for in cash.

9. HOME AND CAR MAINTENANCE

We have been surprised many times with home and car maintenance expenses. Our default has always been to put these things on our credit card when we just couldn’t swing it.

Some examples of car and home maintenance:

  • Servicing an air conditioner
  • Blowing out sprinkler systems for Winter
  • Spraying for bugs
  • Oil changes
  • New tires
  • Transmission flushes

Basically all of the boring adult stuff that we have to do to keep our lives running smoothly! These things are inevitable and necessary, so be sure to add them into your monthly budget.

10. PETS

Pets aren’t free and have their own maintenance costs. We need to allocate money in our budget towards things like:

  • Grooming services
  • Food
  • Vaccinations
  • Dental cleanings
  • Pet insurance
  • State registration
  • Microchipping
  • Treats 
  • Toys

When I purchased our dog twelve years ago, I was single and never thought through exactly how she would impact our budget. There are so many expenses outside of dog food that have shocked me over the years, especially now that she’s getting older. 

Anything I missed? What things pop up into your budget and get you off track with your goals?


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$5 Dollar Dinners:If you love the idea of a meal plan but hate actually creating one, I highly recommend $5 Dollar Dinners. Erin outlines amazing meal plans on a budget.

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Real Plans: Real plans is an amazing meal planning resource, particularly for families with special diets. Real Plans helps you quickly create a meal plan based on the types of foods your family likes to eat and/or dietary restrictions.

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10 Things You're Probably Forgetting to Include in Your Budget


Sarah Nichols

Sarah Nichols, founder and CEO of Let's Talk Mom Business, has a background in business, research, advocacy, and family finances. LetsTalkMomBusiness.com combines her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and her love for budgeting and frugal living to help others take their family finances into their own hands by teaching budget basics, how to earn income from home as a mom, DIY tutorials, and frugal fun.

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