Establishing a budget is key to staying on top of your expenses. Fixed expenses are those we can anticipate every month or on a regular recurring schedule. For instance, a mortgage payment or rent, health insurance, auto insurance, utility bills and student loans. Growing your savings should also be part of your budget.
While saving for a lovely vacation or coveted new toy is a good goal, it should absolutely come second to saving for the unexpected. An emergency fund can keep you out of financial trouble.
Here are eight expenses — big and small — that everyone should budget for. And while current times may preclude you from building an emergency fund now, if you do find yourself with additional funds leftover at the end of the month, try to build up a financial cushion, no matter how small.
Losing a Job
Nobody has job security. Nobody. People get fired, companies go under, clients change their minds, contracts can be broken — and pandemics can happen.
If you suddenly lost your job tomorrow, would you be OK financially for a few months? You should factor in three to six months’ worth of rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, any loan payments and groceries. Here’s how to figure out how much you need and where to stash your emergency fund.
Divorce/Split From a Partner
The divorce rate may be on the decline for younger Americans, but 2018 still saw 782,038 divorces, according to data from the CDC. There isn’t any group that is immune to divorce. Whether you’ve been married for decades or just a few short years, it can happen.
For stay-at-home partners, perhaps this means discussing a postnup to ensure you’ll be financially compensated for your time away from a desk in the event of a split. For partners who make significantly more money, this could mean communicating about who is funding which long-term financial goals and what the expectations are surrounding those goals.
But for everyone, it means having enough resources of your own (read: in your own name) so if your spouse walked out tomorrow, you could pay the rent or hire movers.
The costs of getting pregnant can be pretty steep and, similarly, so can remaining child-free.
Parents will spend close to $12,000 on child expenses during the first year of their baby’s life, and that doesn’t include the healthcare costs of having the baby. If you aren’t ready for motherhood and aren’t practicing regular birth control methods, be sure you know the cost of Plan B (between $40 and $60) or the cost of terminating an unwanted pregnancy (as well as where you can procure it safely).
Cab and Ride Share Fares
I live in New York City and I’m fond of telling my female friends that if they can’t afford a cab ride home after a night out, then they can’t afford to go out.
Prioritize and budget for your safety. If at anytime you feel unsafe — whether you’re in an unfamiliar neighborhood, your date sucks, your train is out of service, your car breaks down, or you get separated from your friend who drove — you should be able to get in a taxi or Lyft and go home. Do not scrimp on this expense. Whether it costs you $15 or $50, pay the fare if it means getting home safely.
Even if you’re vigilant about tune-ups and oil changes, cars have the grand capacity to do just about anything: break down, malfunction, and get in accidents.
If you’re buying a used car, be sure to ask the previous owner or the car dealer if there are any mechanical or other problems you should be aware of and how much the repairs generally run. Also, shop around for a reliable mechanic and know how much it costs for routine maintenance and repairs so you don’t get cheated by swindlers.
Professional Beauty Services
Whether you’re into lengthy beauty routines or stick with sunscreen and lip balm, there are some moments that call for more than your everyday regimen. And while you can cut corners (check out these affordable makeup brands), sometimes it pays to turn to a professional.
Even though we aren’t going anywhere right now, we will definitely need some professional maintenance assistance once the world is healthier. So whether you’re getting a blowout for a third-round interview for your absolute dream job, a media appearance, an important work function, or need a complete makeover for that time when a pandemic sent us all into quarantine for months, invest in your look.
Health care is no place to scale back, especially if it’s preventative care like breast cancer screenings, annual wellness visits and pelvic exams. These exams are not optional and they keep you healthy.
Know and plan for any copays or out-of-pocket expenses as well as any necessary follow-up procedures. Additionally, stay attuned to your family history. If people in your family tend to have a history with skin cancer then, yes, absolutely opt in for that expensive yet optional test for that funky mole.
If you just got married or had a particularly robust year as a freelancer, you could be hit with an astronomical tax bill. Like a, “they must have gotten this number wrong” kind of sum. If you have an accountant, they should be keeping you abreast of what your bill could look like.
While there are options available to you if you can’t pay your tax bill, you’ll save yourself time (and money!) if you can just write that one check and not talk to the IRS for another year.
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