Budgets are the absolute worst to create. No joke. We’ve had a pretty amazing budget for years now, but I will never forget the first few months of making a budget. It was hard making sure that we remembered everything and had money in the right places to set us up for not only travel and enjoyment now, but comfort and success in the future as well.
After making a budget for ourselves and leading multiple Financial Peace University classes, we’ve seen some common themes in what people tend to forget when creating a budget. Here’s our top five (in no particular order) commonly missed budget items and why they are important!
Repairs (car, roof, other sinking funds)
How stressful is it to have the car break down and not be able to fix it? Or to have the water heater stop working without warning? Obviously, you never want these things to happen, but they DO happen, and you can be prepared. This one might take a little research. Figure out what big ticket items YOU are responsible for replacing when they break or need to be replaced. Think things like the roof, your appliances, carpets, tires, and mattresses. Then figure out how much it costs to replace things, divide over the amount of time each is expect to last, and BOOM – you know how much you should be setting aside each month for repairs. That way, when the roof starts leaking after 20 years as expected, you aren’t scrambling for cash!
2) Giving fund/Holiday fund
Did you know that Christmas is December 25th AGAIN this year? And that your sister’s birthday happens the same time every year as well? It sounds silly, but how often do you find yourself scrambling to pull together enough cash for holidays and other gift-giving opportunities? Set a budget for how much you want to spend on gifts. Divide by 12, and that’s how much you need to be saving each month. Cody and I got REALLY detailed with this list when our budget was especially tight, but we’ve been able to loosen up and give more now that we are debt free!
3) Car Replacement
Unpopular opinion: I think car loans are the dumbest idea in the world right behind buying a new car (new cars lose 10% of their value the moment you drive them off the lot). And contrary to popular believe, it is completely reasonable to live your life without a car loan! We set aside money each month for a car fund. When our junker (a 2006 Chevy HHR that sounds like it might just die at any second) finally goes out, we will use the money we have set aside to buy a slightly less junky junker while we save some more. The logic here is that every time we buy a car, it will be a little nicer, last a little longer, and eventually we’ll be able to drive a really nice car! Not only that, but we are great at looking for a good deal, like our 2012 Toyota Sienna that we got for $5000 with only 50,000 miles! I would MUCH rather drive used cars for a while and spend my money on other things than throw my money at another loan every month!
4) Travel fund!
Everyone wants to take a vacation – time away, stress-free. . .but so many of us also put that same vacation on credit cards and have to pay it off until the next vacation! I want my travel to be stress-free, so for us that means it also needs to be debt free. We plan ahead and know what we will spend on a trip, then use our travel fund to pay for it upfront. Saving money each month specifically for travel allows us to be budget-friendly when we travel too. A bonus is that it often leads us to making healthier choices when we travel as well!
5) Fun money!
A common money objection we hear is that budgets are restricting, but we’ve seen the opposite be true! Owing money to someone else is restricting. Being in debt and having more payments is restricting. Knowing what you have and where it is going is FREEING. That’s why we tell people to include a little “wiggle room” or “fun money” in your budget. Let yourself buy that pink drink at Starbucks, or a cute top at Target, or have a date with your spouse! Budgets don’t have to stop you from having fun and living your life! In fact, we’ve seen that when you have money earmarked for entertainment, eating out, or date night – it’s more likely to become a priority!