Essential Expenses to Include in Your Budget
A budget is an essential tool for anyone who wants to be financially independent and successful. It’s even more important to have one if you have limited financial resources, as that means you need to be deliberate in how you spend your money and monitor your expenses regularly to ensure you aren’t overspending on nonessential items. However, since everyone has different needs, budgets also need to be tailored to each individual’s lifestyle. With that in mind, here are some monthly expenses everyone should include in their budget if they want it to be effective.
Mortgage or rent
If you’re a renter, factor in your rent. If you own a home, include property taxes and insurance as well as any homeowner’s association fees. Don’t forget about utility bills like water and power, either. For most people, their housing costs account for more than half of their monthly budget, so be sure to include them all.
Whether it’s electricity, gas, or water, your monthly utility bills represent a significant expense that can be minimized by using energy-efficient appliances and other tricks. The best thing you can do is keep an eye on your consumption. If you find yourself consistently over budget each month, check out more ways to save money on utilities.
Mobile phone/ data plan
With unlimited calling and text options, plus affordable data plans, mobile phones make sense for an overwhelming number of people. But these smart devices aren’t cheap; carriers have monthly phone payment options that can put a serious dent in your budget if you don’t plan carefully. Set a budget for yourself each month based on your phone usage needs and remember: no matter how many lines you add, it’s always cheaper to share a data plan.
Water and electricity account for two of your most essential monthly expenses. These utilities are used every day—if not multiple times per day—to keep you comfortable and running smoothly. Try to use water conservatively, turn off lights when you’re not using them, and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water each day.
This refers to payments made to your local council for services like garbage collection and recycling. These rates vary depending on where you live, but you can expect them to come with a hefty price tag if you’re renting; homeowners are generally not required to pay council rates. In some parts of Australia, your landlord or real estate agent can add these fees to your rent, which can make life difficult when trying to keep track of expenses.
One of our essential expenses is gas/oil heating, which ranges from $70-to $125 a month depending on how cold it gets and how energy efficient our house is. Since we live in a rural area, there’s not much to do here during long winters, so staying warm becomes imperative. Also, since we rent our home, and it lacks central heating (and there are no plans for installation) that means everyone needs their source of heat -which can get expensive very quickly.
Health insurance premiums
If you’re self-employed, there are a lot of ways you can save on insurance premiums. While your employer may offer a group plan at discounted rates, it might make sense for you to shop around. You could buy into an HMO, PPO or POS plan or even compare Medicare plans that cover over-65 expenses. Before choosing a specific policy, investigate deductibles and copays as well as coverage amounts and which services each plan covers.