Jun 30 2014

Budgeting for Freedom: Hidden Expenses

So, last night, Nick and I stayed up (a bit too late) going over the numbers for our budget. He makes a pretty decent, family supporting, income on his own. But because we have used credit cards & loans in the past, accompanied by some unexpected expenses in the last month, we’re dealing with the struggle of balancing our budget. I’m a stresser, a person that worries about things and stresses about things, a lot. I don’t often let off the stress/steam on a daily basis, so it just builds. It’s actually resulted in a bodily infection and major lack of energy at some points. So a main health goal right now is to reduce stress. Making a budget last night is one of the things we’re doing to reduce my stress.

Nick and I both have financial goals we want to accomplish and Nick tries very hard to make sure my stress stays at a manageable level. To the point where he washes the dishes 85% of the time because he knows it helps create a sense of relief in my mind when chores are at hand.

As we were discussing our monthly expenses last night, I realized there are a LOT of things that can easily be missed or unaccounted for. For instance, the Dave Ramsey budget form, printable free here, has a line item called “subscriptions.” We instantly thought, “Okay, we have a yearly Amazon subscription for Prime membership. We’re cancelling our Hulu membership. That’s it, right?” Wrong. I had to get out a separate notebook to total up all our subscriptions. Right now we’re at a point where, if we can afford something, we’re going to get it if it makes us happy, within reason. So we wrote down everything we subscribe to now that we want to keep, and everything we intend to subscribe to in the next two months. The list got longer. We want to subscribe to the newspaper, that’s another $13 a month. I have a membership to a massage place. It’s not cheap, but it’s $60 a month and it includes getting a massage every month. Yes, I’m keeping it. Remember that stress? Well, $60/month is a small price to pay for relaxation. And Nick is all for it.

Subscriptions aren’t the only “hidden expense.” I don’t buy clothes every month. In fact, for the last two years I have only bought a small wardrobe addition every time I got a tax return, and I just dealt with what I had. But we know we’re going to expand our closets in the coming months. So we had to think, “How much are we going to buy in the next three months for clothes, bare minimum needs for work, etc.” and tacked on another $40 to the monthly budget. Kids have clothes, and we spend next to nothing on that, but they need shoes and socks. That’s another $10/month. Obviously they don’t get new shoes every month. But they do get them 2-3 times a year. And it definitely adds up.

And it’s important to make a personal spending plan too. Nick likes to buy Blu-Rays, he collects them because he loves to watch movies. I like to treat myself to extra things from time to time too, or at least I like to be able to do that. Being a mom on the tightest income ever for the last two years has made it difficult, but I want to be able to get things. So we made sure to say “Hey, what, on average over 6 months, would you like to have, per month, for just STUFF?” and so that made it into our budget as well.

What’s left over after everything is supposed to all go to savings, right? Yes! We’re at the “build our savings” point of our financial strategy. But there’s a catch. We still don’t have a table/chair set. Or couches. Because like I said, we got slapped with a lot of unexpected expenses and didn’t get to get those things. So now we just deal without them for right now but we have them budgeted using the irregular income planning sheet. We just put the leftover money from our budget at the top, put the extra expenses in there, and throw in line items for savings plans. So for example, instead of putting 10% of our money in savings, we’re putting only 5% and putting the rest toward dining furniture. And we’ll do the same mid-August too and get living room furniture. Then it’s going to become a hard and steady savings plan, for our emergency fund. Don’t even get me thinking about our wedding budget, because that’s another stressful story for a different day. Either way, we’re going to build a savings account. And then we’ll kick our debt out the door.

Tell me, what kinds of struggles did you go through when building a budget? Or are you still struggling with financial insecurity? Look forward for MORE posts in the coming months regarding our budgeting for freedom.

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  1. Libby Roosdett

    I love Dave Ramsey. I think it’s great when you work on the finances together and continue to meet regularly so you’re on the same page!

    1. Shelby Michalek

      Absolutely! I’ve been studying the Dave Ramsey plans for awhile now but we’re just starting to enact all the parts of it with our budget. During that conversation last night I also realized how much debt (70%/30% his/mine) we have but that’s another post for a different day this month!

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