20 Things to Include in a Monthly Budget

Financial Planning

If you’re making a budget, congratulations! It’s a great way to ensure that you have as much freedom and as many options in the future as possible.

You know to include housing costs, food, utilities, and other important expenses when making a budget, but it’s hard to think of everything.

Some of the following 20 items may not apply to you, but they are all things that are frequently overlooked by those making a budget.

Charitable Contributions

Donating to a favorite charity or to your house of worship are worthy expenses, and they should be included in the budget process.

Household Maintenance

If you have someone clean the carpets once a year, or power-wash the driveway, be sure to include it in your budget.

You can budget for this service during the month in which you usually have it done, or with the total yearly cost divided by 12 so you’ll know how much to set aside each month.

Labor Union Dues

If your dues come out of your wages, you might not pay much attention to this expense, since they’re “budgeted” automatically, but if they don’t, you need to make certain they’re in your budget.

Safe Deposit Box Fees

If you keep your Last Will and Testament, property deeds, or small valuables in a safe deposit box, you need to budget for the cost of a safe deposit box.

Spousal Support

If you pay alimony and it comes directly out of your paycheck, it’s budgeted for you, but if not, don’t forget to include this expense when making a budget.

Work Wardrobe and Upkeep

If your workplace requires that you wear a suit and nice shoes, budget the cost of replacing items as they wear out and budget the cost of dry cleaning and shoe repair into your spending plan.


Subscriptions to magazines, trade journals, and online publications are frequently overlooked in household budgets.

Some subscriptions, such as trade journals may be tax deductible.


Do you have family or friends visit each summer or during the holidays?

If so, estimate costs of extra groceries, extra laundry, and extra transportation when making a budget so these costs don’t throw your spending plan off.

Travel Expenses

By the same token, if you visit family at Thanksgiving or at other times, you need to figure the costs of gasoline, travel food, and other incidentals into your budget to account for these expenses.


Are you or your spouse a member of a gym or civic organization?

If so, include these costs when making a budget.


It’s hard to predict prescription costs for the illnesses like flu and ear infections that strike without warning, but maintenance medications should be incorporated into your spending plan.

Pet Care

Our furry friends bring so much to our lives.

Don’t forget to include the costs of veterinary visits, vaccinations, and grooming when you’re making a budget.

Daily Incidentals

If everyone chips in for coffee at your workplace, or if you grab a paper at the newsstand every morning, these expenses add up over the year and should be included in your budget plan.

Bank Account Fees

Banks charge fees for just about everything, including low balances, transfers, ATM use, debit card use, and account maintenance.

Include these in your budget and you won’t wonder what’s chipping away at your bank balances.


If you commute by car to an urban area, then you probably pay for parking. Don’t forget this expense when making a budget.

Car Registration

Are you surprised every year when you get a notice in the mail that your car registration is about to expire?

Be ready by including car registration expenses and taxes on your expense sheet.


It may seem odd to budget for entertainment, because it’s supposed to feel spontaneous and fun.

You may not know what kind of entertainment you’ll enjoy from one month to the next, but you should get a handle on how much you spend on entertainment per month so you can include it in your budget.


Even when birthdays are low key, you’re bound to outlay some money for a cake, dinner out, or gift.

If you have children, you’ll want to budget for birthday parties, even if you keep them very simple.

Holiday Gifts

Include typical holiday gift expenses as part of your monthly budget (estimate how much you’ll spend at Christmas and divide by 12).

You’ll be less likely to experience a nasty surprise when you open next January’s credit card bills.

Irregular Expenses

It’s difficult to budget for one-off expenses, because you may not know about them in advance.

However, if you know you’re traveling to your sister’s wedding in August, you should include these expenses when making a budget.

Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.



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