Author Topic: How do you budget miscellaneous purchases?  (Read 1223 times)

Broadway2019

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How do you budget miscellaneous purchases?
« on: August 07, 2017, 06:41:20 AM »
I have been having trouble keeping our budget in line because every month it seems we bought alcohol, pet stuff (flea & tick), it was someone's birthday, etc.. Do you have a random category? We have cut back on food and such, but for example, spent $40 on beer last night and flea/tick medicine this weekend was $92 for a 6 month supply.

kayvent

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Re: How do you budget miscellaneous purchases?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2017, 06:47:36 AM »
I used to have such a category but the trouble is, I'd lie. For example, that little snack to get me through the two hour meeting would find itself in that category because I didn't want to tip over the food budget. In other words, I find wiggle room encourages abuse.

I have some broader categories now. Groceries, restaurants, and alcohol all go under the Grocery category. I'd personally shove pet food in Groceries and pet medicine in Medical.

Snow

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Re: How do you budget miscellaneous purchases?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2017, 06:49:19 AM »
Yup! I have an "other" category, and it is limited to ~$100 per month. It seems a lot until you realize that everything that does not have a category goes in there.

In my budget, rent, electricity, phone, student loan, groceries, bus pass (less than the price of a monthly bus pass to encourage cycling), crafts/side-hustle and various saving goals. Which means my "other" category includes everything from home investments, eating out, gifts, dentist, unexpected fees and expenses and over-blowing any other budget. I did set it to "rollover" though, which means I can save for a larger investment over time.

Linea_Norway

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Re: How do you budget miscellaneous purchases?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2017, 06:54:31 AM »
I think alcohol could be put on a separate category to make it visible how much is spent on it. My bank puts alcohol into a bigger category for entertainment, including restaurants and bars.

Gifts could be a separate category that you could transfer to the next month. Just make sure you hold it over a year.

Laura33

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Re: How do you budget miscellaneous purchases?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2017, 09:16:25 AM »
Budgets are always hard the first year or two, because you can't possibly think of all of those little one-offs ahead of time.  So, yes, I have a "miscellaneous" category, but it is also limited, because I don't want that to become the dumping ground for other things that I didn't plan well enough for.  So as you go through this, I'd suggest asking yourself whether this is something that you can predict and should plan for in the future -- if so, it probably needs to be accounted for in some category.

Pets:  you know you have pets.  Ergo, all incidental pet expenses need to be accounted for in a category.
Alcohol:  you know you drink alcohol.  Ditto.  Personally, we consider that either groceries or entertainment, depending on whether it is at home or out.
Birthdays:  you know people have birthdays.  If you like them, you may want to buy them a gift or send a card.  Ergo, category. 

OTOH, "Misc" for me would be something like a parking ticket or a late fee, or something that is really too minor/infrequent to merit its own category.

Note that these don't need to be precise for each and every month -- the idea is to make sure that everything averages out over the course of the month.  So e.g. if you save $100/mo for gifts, that would cover holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.; even if a particular month is high, you're fine as long as the year stays below $1200.

This is also why I keep my budget below my actual monthly expenses, because shit happens.

trollwithamustache

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Re: How do you budget miscellaneous purchases?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2017, 09:45:52 AM »
It took me a while to get budgeting down. There end up being lots of expenses that don't fit neatly into weeks or months.  What works for me is I accrue XX dollars each month for various costs that I have identified and that money sits in the savings account. If I have an expense for that category, say car maintenance then I just decrease that line in the spreadsheet. Your categories will vary by lifestyle and what you want to do, i.e. no skydiving money for me, but one of my coworkers seems to like it.