Pattie Lovett-Reid: How to supercharge your budget
Taxes, insurance, mortgage payments, cell phone bills, food, heating, transportation and parking. These are just a few of the common expenses that pop up monthly basis that most people will plan and budget for.
However, there are other reoccurring expenses that may happen annually that we can tend to overlook that have a way of sneaking up on us.
Here are just a few:
Special occasions. Listen up kids. You know today is my birthday – it’s the same day every year. Yet I guarantee not one of my four children accounted for it in their budget. Now, to be fair, I’ve never been disappointed, but when you plan for special gifts throughout the year, you are better able to manage the hit to your wallet. By the way, it is my husband’s birthday on Wednesday. It can be a very expensive month in our household, as it’s the same time the holiday bills roll in. Birthdays, showers, weddings or graduations may be special occasions but they can also be costly ones.
Maintenance. This can be a bit of a wildcard. You can often put off early signs of wear and tear on your home or even your car, but you can’t ignore these things forever. The roof leaks, the car breaks down your pet may need medical attention. Unexpected expenses can destroy your budget and that’s why we often talk about the importance of an emergency fund. It’s a good idea to have three-to-six months of living expenses tucked away in cash or near cash equivalent such as a high-interest savings account.
Vacations. Trips are often planned for; however, many of us underestimate the cost of the vacation in its entirety. Your dream trip can quickly become your budget nightmare. Save enough to cover all anticipated expenses – transportation, lodging, food, entertainment, delays and excursions that may be decided upon at the last minute.
Look closely at all the annual fees you’re paying. You want to ensure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck. Look closely at subscriptions, gym and golf memberships, or any annual expenses you may have overlooked. Watch that lifestyle inflation doesn't start to creep in.
Tracking your expenses through a spreadsheet is helpful; however, if your cash flow can handle an unexpected expense that strays from your budget, let it go.
For the rest of us, we need to look more closely of how we define reoccurring expenses and be a little more inclusive so we aren't caught off guard.
February is Your Money Month at BNN Bloomberg. For more content like this, visit BNNBloomberg.ca/personal-finance