Budgeting is one of the most important financial habits to develop. There are so many budgeting methods out there to choose from, but it’s not just creating a budget that will set you up for financial success. Instead, it’s important to learn how to budget well by using a monthly expenses list so you don’t forget about any costs.
Table of contents
- Monthly expenses list: 29 Commonly overlooked items
- Expert tip: Check your bank statements for accuracy often
- Budgeting tips to stay on top of your monthly expenses
- What are examples of monthly expenses?
- How do I plan for variable vs fixed expenses in my budget?
- What are average expenses for a household?
- What is the average person’s monthly expenses?
- How can you create a more accurate budget using your list of monthly expenses?
- Articles related to a monthly expenses list
- Overlook these monthly bills no more!
In order to budget well, it’s essential that we include all of our monthly bills and costs in our budgets. Unfortunately, this is a little harder than it sounds. And this is because there are so many monthly expenses list items that we tend to forget to include in our budgets.
Hardly anyone would forget to include their rent or mortgage payment in their budget, but there are so many spending and money habits that tend to slip our minds. Not to mention variable expenses! When you forget to include them, it can wreak havoc on your budget.
Whether you already have a budget that is in need of updating or you are creating your first one, here we’ll go over some of these often-overlooked purchases that you should include in your budget so that you, too, can budget well.
Monthly expenses list: 29 Commonly overlooked items
Do you have the items from this commonly overlooked monthly expenses list in your budget? Review the list below to determine what’s applicable to you and incorporate them into your budget starting today!
1. Emergency fund
Just because a third party isn’t billing you monthly for it doesn’t mean you can afford to forget about your emergency fund. Build a contribution to your emergency fund into your budget. That way, you’ll be able to afford any unexpected (and not budgeted for) costs that may arise.
The commonly accepted amount to save is 3-6 months of your living expenses. But you may choose to include more money in your emergency fund, depending on how stable your financial situation is.
2. Retirement fund
Like your emergency fund, nobody is going to force you to contribute to your retirement, but you still should if you can. By adding this amount to your monthly budget, you’ll hold yourself accountable. Plus, you’ll set yourself up to be in the best financial position when it comes time to retire.
Choose the one that works best for you, or combine more than one retirement savings method.
3. Extra debt payments
If you have credit card debt, you want to pay the minimum payment every month, at the very least. If you want to reduce credit card debt, you will want to make more than your monthly minimum payments.
Don’t forget to include these extra debt payments in your list of monthly bills. And it helps to come up with a plan to pay off your debt, including a timeline for when you will pay off everything you owe.
4. Quarterly or annual bills
The majority of bills come monthly, but not all. Comb through your past payments and take stock of all bills that you pay less frequently.
For instance, a quarterly water bill or annual professional association membership dues. Then, calculate how much that amount costs on a prorated, monthly basis, and include that figure in your monthly budget.
5. Home or renter’s insurance
Most homeowners choose to insure their belongings with homeowners insurance, and many apartment buildings require renters to carry renter’s insurance.
If you think you might forget or you want to simplify, you can combine your homeowner’s insurance with your mortgage payment.
Renter’s insurance costs are typically quite low, less than $20 per month in most cases. You can think of it as part of your monthly rent payment.
6. Medical visit co-pays and HSA
Your health insurance should cover the cost of most medical appointments, but it is important to budget for co-pays. At around $25 (or more) per visit, these co-pays can add up, even if you only go to the doctor for routine appointments.
If you visit the doctor often, be sure to estimate how many times a month you go. Be sure to account for these costs in your budget.
You may also choose to save money in an HSA (health savings account). There are specific amounts you can contribute, and whether this is an option for you also depends on your health plan. But if you do contribute to an HSA, don’t forget to budget for it.
7. Dental and/or vision costs
Even if you have health insurance, vision and dental expenses are often not covered under that health insurance. Sometimes separate vision and dental insurance will cover part, but not all, of your expenses.
Make sure to include charges such as teeth cleaning, new glasses, and contact lenses as monthly expenses list items in your budget.
First, determine is dental insurance worth it for you, as well as vision insurance, and if not, plan for the costs in advance.
8. Prescription medication
Another one of the medical-related monthly bills that many often forget is prescription medication.
Prescription drugs cost the average American over $1,000 a year! While your health insurance will likely pay for much of that, remember to account for your out-of-pocket costs in your monthly budget.
9. Parking and toll fees
Most people don’t forget their car payments in their monthly costs, but that’s not all it costs for car expenses. Especially if you commute to work, you will likely pay tolls and or parking fees.
Add up the total you spend on all extra fees for your car each month to get an accurate estimate.
10. Subscription renewals
Whether it’s your daily newspaper, a beauty box, Spotify, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, or gym memberships, there are seemingly endless subscription and membership options.
$12.99 might not seem like a ton of money, but it can throw off your budget if you forget to include it. Know how much your subscriptions cost and when the money is due, and be sure to get rid of any subscriptions or memberships you don’t use.
11. Beauty expenses
Reports vary widely on how much women spend on makeup and beauty products, but needless to say, it can be a lot.
One survey found that the average woman spends $300,000 on face products over the course of her lifetime! Even if you are on the low end of the average, you likely replenish a beauty product or two or personal care products every month.
If so, be sure to include those monthly expenses list items in your budget.
12. Cleaning supplies
Grocery store items that don’t need to be replenished every week or month are often overlooked when it comes to a monthly expenses list. Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and the like can really add up.
Be prepared for an extra expensive grocery shopping trip once a month or every couple of months to account for these costs, and try frugal grocery shopping during the other weeks.
13. Backup childcare
If you have children you probably pay for childcare of some sort. Or you may count on school to watch your kids for a large portion of most days.
But things interfere with your regular scheduled childcare all of the time. When they do, and you need to find and pay for backup childcare, you’ll be happy when you have anticipated this cost and budgeted for it.
In addition to saving money for backup childcare, you should also save for extra expenses that come up throughout the year, other than regular daycare costs.
For instance, extra costs for school events or tuition payments that cost more than expected.
14. Dry cleaning
Depending on your job and your wardrobe, dry cleaning might be something you do every week, every month, or only occasionally. No matter what, you’ll likely have at least a couple of items that will require a trip to the dry cleaners, and these should be included in your budget, too.
Try to reduce your dry cleaning costs, but plan for them when needed.
15. Formal occasion clothes
You might not need a new formal dress or suit very often, but an occasion will probably arise every so often that requires one. While you can be fashionable on a budget, formal events sometimes call for a splurge or a new pair of shoes, and it’s always best to budget for this in advance.
In addition, you may want to save up a bit of money each month for regular clothing purchases as needed. You won’t need to spend money on this every month, but maybe a few times a year, so it’s good to be prepared.
16. Hobby supplies
Are you an avid gardener, knitter, baker, or something else? Hobbies can keep us sane (especially stress relieving hobbies!) and are definitely worth the cost.
Just remember to account for how much it costs to keep up with your hobby in your budget.
Add up the individual costs that you spend on your hobby each month (supplies, classes, etc.), and then add all of those together to know how much to set aside monthly.
Giving is popular around the holidays, but many people make charitable giving a part of their budget all year long.
Whether you like to support your alma mater, friends participating in half-marathons and the charities they are running for, or any other worthy cause, be sure to remember this when you prepare your budget, too.
Christmas and birthday gift expenses are big-spending holidays for many people. If they are for you, you should take into account everyone you plan to buy a present, even if you’re planning to do Christmas on a budget.
Don’t forget about other holidays where you might give gifts, too.
For example, that Easter basket doesn’t magically arrive on your kid’s doorstep for free, right (or does it)?
19. Holiday extras
In addition to gifts, there are plenty of other ways to spend money over the holidays. From hosting a cocktail party for friends to decorating your home, be sure to include whatever “extras” you like to spend during the holidays as part of your monthly cost calculation.
Don’t forget about baking and cooking supplies, a Christmas party at work, wrapping paper, etc.
20. Fun money
Lastly, what would a budget or life be without some room for unexpected fun?
By putting aside a fun money amount dedicated to spontaneous events, like a day trip to the beach, drinks with friends, or a date night with your husband, you’ll be able to enjoy these activities without stressing over whether or not they’ll break your budget.
Things like entertainment, shopping purchases, or anything else that comes up during the month are important to include in your budget.
21. Specific utilities
There are several specific utilities you should add to your monthly expenses list. Some of them may be bundled together in one bill, or they may arrive separately. Either way, don’t forget about them!
- Cable (or cable alternatives)
- Heating and air conditioning
- Cell phone bill
Does the amount of money you spend on gas for your car change from month to month? If your commute changes, you start carpooling, or you travel, then you need to account for the changes in your budget. Transportation costs are easy to overlook, but they are unavoidable.
Costs also apply if you take public transportation. You may still have different costs for the bus, subway, or Uber from month to month.
23. Life insurance
Find out what you are spending each month for your life insurance premium, and don’t forget to include it in your expenses.
24. Pet care and supplies
If you have pets, your list of monthly bills is not complete without adding in this cost. Account for the cost of pet food, vet bills, supplies, etc.
You may want to set up a separate fund just for your pets. That way, you can afford to buy your dog a new toy or leash every now and then.
And keep in mind that pet care costs may vary by month. Especially if you buy pet food in bulk and only visit the vet once or twice a year. Plan in advance for the months that cost more.
25. Traveling funds
If you are someone who travels frequently for work or you just have a vacation coming up, you’ll need to include traveling funds in your vacation budget plans. Traveling costs can end up being quite expensive, so you can split the savings over a few months, that way, it doesn’t seem like as much.
Keep in mind that traveling can often cost more than you think, with airfare, hotel costs, dining out during your trip, etc., so it’s best to overbudget rather than budget less money.
26. HOA fees and property taxes
Instead, you can set aside a bit of money for them each month so you’ll be ready when the fees are due.
HOA (homeowners association) fees don’t apply to everyone, but if you have them, make sure you’re aware of the amount.
Property taxes apply to all homeowners.
27. Home repairs and costs
Home repairs can be anything from pest control to saving up for unexpected costs like plumbing repairs. Save money each month for your home for both large and small costs.
Consider things like painting, remodels, a new roof, or your a/c or heater breaking that you may need savings for.
28. Sinking funds
Your list of monthly expenses would not be complete without sinking funds. If you have a big expense coming up in the next year or the next few years, start saving now.
You can add a specific amount of money to your sinking fund each month so you are prepared when the charges come up, such as an expensive vacation, buying a home or rental property, etc.
Alternatively, create sinking funds categories and save for several different things.
29. Auto insurance
If you have a car, then you need to have auto insurance. The typical cost for car insurance is about $168 for full coverage each month, though costs can vary.
There are a lot of options for how often you pay car insurance, from monthly to a couple of times a year or even once a year. You can decide what works best for your budget.
Expert tip: Check your bank statements for accuracy oftenThere are many costs that it can be easy to overlook in your monthly budget. As you look through this list, think about which ones apply to you. Not all of them will and there may be others that aren’t on the list.
To avoid being caught unprepared for extra monthly costs, look back over your bank and also credit card statements to see if there is any spending you didn’t account for.
Budgeting tips to stay on top of your monthly expenses
All of these costs are essential to remember in your budget and monthly expenses list.
But don’t forget the most important thing – you need to make a budget to begin with! Here are some tips to help you create a great budget and plan for the unexpected.
Choose the right budget for you
You’ll need to divide your expenses by budget category, and then you can figure out your average monthly cost of expenses. A worksheet, budget calendar, or budget calculator can be immensely helpful in this situation.
Don’t forget to include the financial goals you’re working toward, all your expenses, and make a plan for what you’ll do with any extra money.
Account for changes to your budget
Remember, your budget is not going to look the same every month. After all, you have different obligations, responsibilities, and different plans and events to attend each month.
Use the ideas above to determine what you might normally forget to add to your budget, and spend some time thinking about what your month looks like before you create a budget you want to stick to.
What are examples of monthly expenses?
There are plenty of examples of monthly expenses, such as rent or a mortgage, utilities, and groceries.
However, there are many less obvious costs that are easy to forget about and will then create budget challenges. These include prescriptions and health costs, birthday gifts, and expenses that are quarterly or annual.
Rather than forgetting about these expenses, you can build them into your budget each month with sinking funds and a detailed plan for your spending.
How do I plan for variable vs fixed expenses in my budget?
You can plan for variable vs fixed expenses in your budget by utilizing an organized spreadsheet or budgeting app and also saving up for variable expenses.
Fixed costs are the same every month, and variable ones may cost different amounts each time.
For instance, your rent payment is probably always the same, but your water bill or light bill may vary each month.
To account for variable costs, you can set aside the average amount that each category costs and assume you’ll spend that amount.
However, it is safer to plan for the charges to cost more than expected, so you’ll have enough money.
Wondering what to do with savings when you overprepare? You can save any excess in a savings account for your variable expenses. When things cost more than you thought they would, you can use the money in that account to cover the difference.
What are average expenses for a household?
The average monthly expenses for a household total about $5,111 a month. There’s a lot to pay for each month for the average household, from housing to food costs, etc.
Although your individual costs may vary for your own household, it’s a good idea to know the average cost that you spend on necessities and extras each month. That way, you can make plans for how much to save and what you can afford in the future.
What is the average person’s monthly expenses?
According to the consumer expenditures report from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, average monthly expenses are about $3,405 each month for a single person. That said, your own spending may or may not match this.
One way to be sure is to total up how much you spent in the last year or so and then see what you typically spend each month and what you spend in more expensive months, such as in December for holidays.
You can try to lower your expenses by spending less on non-essentials and also being prepared for commonly forgotten expenses in advance so you don’t turn to credit cards to pay them.
How can you create a more accurate budget using your list of monthly expenses?
To create a more accurate budget using your list of monthly expenses, think about what’s not working well for you.
It’s easy to forget about certain expenses when calculating your monthly budget. Why? One reason expenses can slip your mind is if you don’t write down your budget, item by item.
If you think you are following a budget, but it’s not written down, you very likely are not sticking to whatever it is you think you are following.
People also often forget to include the full cost of certain expenses because they rely on mental calculations about how much something costs. When you do this, you can end up underestimating the true amount you spend.
Lastly, many people don’t account for sporadic spending or things that aren’t billed monthly. Quarterly or annual fees can surprise you and add up if you forget to prorate them and include them in your monthly budget.
If you are struggling with creating a budget, there are numerous tools available to put you on the right track.
As a first step to creating an accurate budget, review the commonly overlooked expenses we cover in this article. If you remember to include these in your budget going forward, you’ll be that much closer to having an accurate and useful budget.
Articles related to a monthly expenses list
If you enjoyed reading this, you’ll love these other articles about expenses and budgets!
- 10 Of The Best Budget Templates And Tools
- Example Of A Budget To Help You Craft Your Own
- How To Plan Your Finances If You’re Getting Paid Monthly
- The Best Way To Keep Track Of Bills And Payments
Overlook these monthly bills no more!
Budgeting is an art. It takes time to fine-tune your budget so that you’ve properly accounted for all of your expenses at the end of the month.
Hopefully, with these reminders, you’ll remember to include all of your monthly expenses list items in your budget. Even these often overlooked ones. Doing this will help you to achieve more financial success and help you know how to stop spending money on things you don’t need and make room for buying important things.