miscellaneous expenses

There will always be expenses you did not think about and could not predict like pet, medical, car, and recreational expenses.  However, these remaining expenses capture the bulk of considerations when developing a budget.

  • Groceries: Everyone has to eat! However, not everyone has to eat like a millionaire.  When you are buying groceries and you are on a tight budget, you should shop at discount stores (Aldi and Shop Rite), buy in bulk when it makes sense, use coupons, buy generic/store brands, and look for sales.  These strategies can save you literally thousands of dollars annually!  According to the US Department of Agriculture, the typical adult spends $60 per week on groceries or $240/month
  • Child Care: If you do not have children, you can skip this.  If you do have children, this can be an enormous cost. On average, it costs approximately $11,666 per year on child care per child or $972 per month for center-based child care.  A way to save money is to find a person or family member willing to provide your child with a safe, healthy, and developmentally appropriate environment for less. 
  • Vacation: According to Cheat Sheet, the average cost of a vacation in the continental United States is $583 or about $50 per month. While you might think it's a place to save money, it is important to take time to recharge.  If you cannot afford to go away, then plan out a "staycation" by planning "road trips" close to home.  You will never regret taking a vacation!
  • Entertainment: Like vacations, everyone needs to recharge and your entertainment expenses is a way to invest in you!  You can definitely find a ton of free things to do like free concerts, state parks (minor entrance fees), hanging at a friend's pool, going to the beach, and so much more.  According to The Simple Dollar, you will spend about $200 per month on entertainment costs. 
  • Clothing: According to Cheat Sheet, the average women spends about $60 per month on clothing.  Men spend about $25 per month on clothing.
  • Gas for Car: Average monthly cost of fuel for the typical vehicle is approximately $140 per month.
  • Commuter Costs: Average cost to commute in the US, based on the Commuter Calculator is approximately $750 to $850 per month if you commute 100 miles daily. Due to declines in gas prices and finance charges, the annual cost to own and operate a vehicle has fallen to $8,698, a nearly 2 percent drop from last year, according to AAA's 2015 Your Driving Costs study.  This research examines the cost of fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges associated with driving a typical sedan 15,000 miles annually (AAA News Room). For the purpose of this budget, you may want to include a "set aside" for car maintenance (oil, tires, windshield wipers, car cleaning, washer fluid, etc.) of $50 per month.  If you use mass transit, your costs will vary depending on the city.  Google the city name and mass transit to research costs.
  • Charitable Donations: Charitable donations are a great way to give back to society.  However, if you are on a tight budget, donations may not be in the picture for several years.  Instead of financial donations, you could donate your time, used clothes, and/or expertise.  This way, you give back to society, it feels good, and you can continue to maintain a responsible budget.  
  • Other: Other expenses can including hobbies, interests, technology, technological upgrades, payment plans not already accounted for, and anything you expect to pay on a regular basis when you begin to work. These are very real costs and should be included in your budget.  
For more information on planning a budget, click Financial Management