When setting up a budget, it’s easy to list all your major expense categories, like your rent or your student loan payment. The tricky part is keeping track of all those little extra expenses – the ones that most people forget to include in their budget in the first place.
Here are three sneaky expenses to keep on your radar when you are following a budget.
Mail Based Subscriptions
These are subscriptions that get delivered to your door and that tend to renew annually such as magazines, personal shopping services, and gift-of-the-month clubs. As this trend continues to rise with everything from designer shoes to pet toys available, it can be difficult to categorize subscription expenses.
The best way to budget these expenses is by first figuring out when the renewal date is. Then divide the cost of the annual subscription by the number of months until the renewal date – that’s how much money you’ll need to put away each month to keep that subscription going.
Digital media, such as movies, music, and ebooks, include media services like Netflix and Spotify, and Kindle Unlimited. Online subscriptions are often pretty flexible – you can usually cancel and restart them at any time. These subscriptions are convenient and in many cases more affordable than purchasing individual albums, movies, and books.
That said, the total cost can add up pretty quickly if you’re subscribed to several services at once. When budgeting these services, take advantage of the flexibility by grouping your digital subscriptions together within your budget.
Presents, gift certificates, cards, and other special-occasion purchases are often times expenses we tend to overlook when calculating out our monthly budgets. Known birthdays and holidays are easy to budget for, but other occasions can take a big chunk out of your gift-giving budget specially when you start getting invited to weddings and baby showers.
Come up with a set amount per type of gift (e.g., $20 for a friend’s birthday, $100 for a family member’s Christmas present) and stick to it. It might seem limiting at first, but it makes it easier to anticipate how much money you need to budget for gifts in any given month. Also, setting aside an annual amount can be a good strategy for those months that tend to be heavier gift-giving months.
To get started on your budget, check out my budgeting worksheet here.