There are a lot of lessons to be learned from “Jurassic Park,” but the most important is that the devil is in the details.
The electric fences and moats can be in place, the staff can be armed to the teeth, and an army of geneticists may have even placed some biological safeguards to keep the dinosaurs in their pens—but the smallest tangle can bring it all crashing down. In the case of Jurassic Park (Spoiler alert!), it was an underpaid and underappreciated employee.
Similarly, you may think that you have all of your bases covered—“spared no expense”, as is said in the movie—only to find that a tiny oversight brings the whole thing down.
The same can be true of your budget. If you took the time to sit down and crunch the numbers, you want them to work for you.
But it’s the little things that can get you in the end. A few bucks here, a dollar or two there—before you know it, you’ve blown a hole in your finances. Where is it all going? You can dig through your bank statements to find out, or see if you’re overlooking some common, yet sneaky expenses like the ones below.
We all need a break. Sometimes, that means literally breaking off a piece of a Kit-Kat bar.
Nearly 40% of Americans eat when they’re stressed. And most of us experience some level of stress on a daily basis, whether that’s at our jobs or elsewhere. That’s the perfect recipe for snacking—and snacking is one of those activities we may overlook when budgeting.
Even if you’re only slamming fifty cents into a vending machine a couple of times per week to get a Mr. Pibb, just add the expense to your budget. It may be as little as $5 or $10 per month, but those amounts add up over time. It’ll make you feel better to acknowledge it.
2. Transportation (add-ons)
The average U.S. consumer spends more than $9,000 on transportation every year. It’s a safe assumption you’ve worked that into your budget.
But what about all those little extras? The tolls, parking, unplanned Uber or taxi trips—they all add up. In all, these extra costs, including the costs of driving around looking for parking spots, can cost up to $3,000 per year, according to industry analysts.
Many people also overlook the expense of renewals—for drivers’ licenses, passports, car registrations, insurance policies, and many other essential items.
Because these are typically one-off, irregular expenses, it’s easy to overlook them. But when you’re suddenly faced with a surprise renewal fee that can cost hundreds. Keep track of when important documents, policies, and registrations expire and work them into your monthly or yearly budget.
Birthdays, baby showers, weddings, holidays, jacuzzi installations—it seems that any and every life event now requires an element of gift-giving. And like renewals and other irregular expenses, these events can sneak up on you and take a serious bite out of your budget.
But it’s not always just the gift; Attending special events can leave you high and dry, too. In 2016, the average guest spent nearly $900 to attend a wedding, according to industry data.
Put events on your calendar, and anticipate their costs to avoid blowing a hole in your financial plan.
5. Zombie spending
You may have heard the term “zombie spending” in reference to government programs. Specifically, these are programs that have outlived their usefulness, but continue to receive funding.
On a personal level, zombie spending can refer to the spending you do out of habit or without thinking about it. Mindlessly making in-app purchases through your phone on Amazon or through a mobile game are a couple of examples. Similarly, compulsively stopping at Starbucks for a Frappuccino every morning. Since you’re not thinking about it, you’re probably not budgeting for it either.
Again, consider budgeting for a little bit of zombie spending, or otherwise keeping a closer eye on your unconscious behavior.
6. “Party spending”
Late-night trips to 7-11 or Taco Bell can add up.
If you like to tip a few back or engage in other adult recreational behaviors, your impaired judgment may take a bite out of your bank account balance. It’s not uncommon to want to hit a fast food drive-thru after leaving the bar, for example.
But consider this interesting statistic, too: The average U.S. drinker spends nearly $450 buying food, clothes, and other things per year while under the influence, according to industry data.
If you like to party, adding a “drunk spending” line to your budget may not be a bad idea.
7. Saving and investing
You should also budget for saving and investing. An easy way to start? Use Auto-Stash and put your savings on autopilot. Making small deposits on a regular basis is one of the keys to smart investing. This strategy can help you to manage the highs and lows of the market to your best advantage.
Set up Set Schedule to make automatic, recurring deposits and investments. Choose a schedule that works for you (every week, every two weeks, or every month), and Set Schedule can deposit cash into your account or invest it directly into your favorite investments.
“Nice work, Stasher. Way to make time for this week’s challenge. You just earned yourself 10 points. Check back next week to score more points and knowledge.”