If staying on top of your personal finances was a goal for yourself this year, you may have taken the time to set a strict budget and plan to set money aside in savings. Simply creating this budget is not enough to maintain financial stability, however. If you have been noticing that not quite as much money is making it into the savings account as you wanted, or you seem to be running short on funds when there should have been plenty to go around, you may be sabotaging your own budget. While setting a budget is a great first step towards financial freedom, there are often many expenses that get forgotten, until it comes time to pay up. These kinds of blindside surprises can certainly throw a wrench in our fiscal plans. To help make sure you stay on track, we have compiled a list of some of the most common ways people sabotage themselves on the path to personal finance progress.
Food & Drinks
Now, we know that food is a necessary expense, and you have probably already accounted for groceries in your weekly or monthly budget. However, what most people do not count on is purchasing food or beverages outside of this allotted amount. That coffee and bagel you grab on your way into work because you were running later and did not have time to cook breakfast at home, the happy hour drinks and appetizers with friends on Thursday night, or the night you just *really* don’t feel like cooking, so you hit the drive-thru and grab a burger instead. All of these are extra food expenses that most people do not account for in their budgets. While we aren’t saying not to treat yourself, we are suggesting that maybe treating yourself should be an additional section of the budget so you have money already set aside when you want a bite that isn’t the food at home.
Kids & Pets
Some more budget busters that many individuals do not account for are kids and pets. While their regular care is most likely already infused into your budget, there are many extra expenses that come along with these cherished additions to your home. Doctor and vet visits, school fees, daycare, and more, failing to plan ahead for these costs can add up quickly and wreak havoc on an otherwise successful budget. Look back on past months and see how much you are spending on your loves and ensure that you add it to the budget for the future.
Unexpected Expenses (medical, house, etc)
No matter how much you plan for, life seems to have a way of throwing unexpected expenses our way. Injuries and accidents can cause hefty hospital bills. Burst pipes, faulty foundations, and testy appliances can incur steep fees for homeowners. While there is not much you can do to prevent these circumstances from happening (but we certainly hope that they don’t!), you can plan in advance for the unexpected. Setting money aside in an emergency fund separate from your checking and savings accounts can help shoulder some of the weight of these unpredictable burdens.
Holidays & Events
Even if your finances remain perfectly maintained throughout the entire year, many budgets get blown during the holiday season. This can end up screwing you over for months to follow, so it is better to account for holidays before they break the bank. Setting extra money aside throughout the year can put you in a good spot when it comes time to splurge on presents for everyone. This forward-thinking approach to your finances will save you from the holiday headache.
Last, but certainly not least, are subscriptions. In a convenience-centered society, people have the tendency to see a flashy new subscription box or streaming service, and they are convinced to give it a try. More often than not, these companies offer a free trial (Get Your First Box Free When You Sign Up! Binge-Watch All Your Favorites Free for a Week!). While this is an enticing opportunity, they require credit card information to complete registration for this free offer. “It’s fine, I’ll just cancel it before they charge me,” you say as you type your card number in from memory. Alas, the free trial comes and goes, and distracted by everything else you have going on in your life, you have forgotten to cancel your membership. If you are regularly checking your bank statements, you may catch these subscriptions before they make a drastic dent in your account. However, if you do not catch them early on, they may eat up more of your budget than you anticipate, leaving you trying to make ends meet.
Are you guilty of any of these budget sabotages? If you want more assistance strategizing for your financial future, contact our accounting and wealth building experts today!