Example of a "small" expense that adds up - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 04:02 AM - Thread Starter
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There was a thread here recently about home buying and budgeting.  I made note that every penny should be budgeted.  I know not everyone agrees with that.  That's cool.


I had an expense recently that I hadn't budgeted for and it was one of those surprising expenses that amounts to a small sum over the course of just a few weeks...


Greeting cards.  I had never though to budget for that, but I had several reasons to buy them and they seem to just keep getting more and more expensive these days.  My office mate had a birthday, my dd and dh had a birthday, Valentine's Day, our wedding anniversary, a death, and a wedding.  I added it up, and for all of the cards, including dd getting dh a card and visa versa, etc... we spent almost $60 in greeting cards in February!!


That's not a big deal for us as we're financially secure, but it would have been a major blow to the budget 25 years ago!  Obviously I would have been more cautious when I was just starting out and scraping to get by, but still.  It's one of those odd expenses that you just don't THINK to budget for.


Any other ideas of odd things you have thought to budget for, but isn't usually on the budget radar?

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#2 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 04:23 AM
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I buy greeting cards from the dollar store. They don't have ones with glitter or sounds or other extras, but they are perfectly good cards.

The expense that always surprises me is when the car sticker expires. It only happens every 2 years so I always forget about it. Similarly drivers liscense renewal, etc.

Another thing that I don't think many people account for is increases. For example our condo fee increases each April for inflation or other circumstances. Insurance often goes up yearly too.

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#3 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 04:47 AM
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One month I was surprised to find I spent almost $20 in parking fees. I live in a very suburban area where there is no parking fee for anything so I didn't think I needed to have parking in my budget.

I ended up going twice to a town that has metered parking. One of those times it was couple of bucks in quarters and another one I ended up in a garage that cost me six bucks. That same month I took an amtrak train into the city and it cost $10 to park at the station for just one evening.



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#4 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 05:30 AM
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Parking is crazy.  The few times I've taken the train I go into thinking it will be cheaper but by the time I buy the train ticket and pay for cabs I really don't think it is.  A trip to the city is going to cost about $40.  Minimum.  That is insane.


Greeting cards p!$$ me off.  I usually find the 99 cent ones.  And wrapping paper!  Jeesh.  I tend to buy generic ones on sale.


Family Entertainment - say we go to the museum for the day.  It is going to be roughly $60 to get in, $10 to park and a minimum of $30 to eat, probably more.  Last Sunday we wanted to go do something fun but everything we came up with would be a minimum of $100.  We ended up going to the toy store, getting DS two new things and setting those up and playing.  He loves them.  Summer is easier but in the winter it is hard.


Parties.  I always think it will be simple and that I have just about everything I need.  There's always last minute stuff I don't think of and it adds up really fast.

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#5 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 08:20 AM
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$60 on cards? If February alone? Sheesh...that'd kill my budget! Thankfully, we have Dollar Tree across the road, although for close family (my parents, my dh, my kids) we typically don't get cards or make them...and I'm not talking scrapbookin' making them...just paper/crayons, stuff we have on hand ;)


Hmmmm. I think Thrift Stores typically kill our budget - or drinks out, not booze (I quit! Woot! lol), but a soda here or there. Typically, those items come out of our "misc" budget, but that tends to get spent pretty quickly...usually. I'm trying to just nix those non-necessities completely because we're trying to finish our emergency fund. Again.


Parking *used* to get me, but only the meters, which isn't *that* bad compared to parking lots/structures. Thankfully, the city recently took out a lot of pay meters! We can now go to the library 100% free :D

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#6 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 08:28 AM
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I don't think this qualifies as its own budget, but I was shocked to figure out that our bout with the flu cost us over $50.


This $50+ I figured out was strictly things we would not have bought had we not had the flu. It included:

- Seltzer water and ginger ale (we do not usually drink anything but water, but when we're sick, the carbonation really helps)

- Ready-made soup (I cook from scratch but I was not up for it, so we bought some cans of soup off the shelf)

- Some OTC medications. I don't like them but DD had a bad cough that would not stop and kept her from sleeping even. It was constant. So I ok'd DH to go get some cough medicine. I've never used it before so I didn't know it was the meth stuff that's all contraband and a fortune to buy. But he came home with the cheapest bottle - $15. Plus there was Benedryl too, for DH.


Anyway, $50 constituted 10% of our budget that week, a big deal.

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#7 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 08:40 AM
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I generally don't buy cards but when I do, I usually get them at Trader Joe's for 99 cents. I never buy cards for children. The kids either make them, I do them on the computer, or we just do a tag.

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#8 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 08:40 AM
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Thrift stores for sure.  Why is it when you have no money, you find something you have to have?


Sicknesses.  DD has been sick three times in the last 6 weeks.  All the extra soup, ice cream, ginger ale, Tylenol, or whatever else she felt like eating that I normally wouldn't buy.

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#9 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 08:53 AM
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Ah! Being sick is definetly a budget buster! Medicine, teas...

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#10 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 09:28 AM
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My after-school care is reasonably priced and budgeted monthly. But I always forget about the extra school closure days. It's only $17/day for all day care, but it adds up when there are 3-4 in a month.

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#11 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 10:50 AM
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-A few years ago a bout of head lice went around the school and neighborhood. My friend estimated and then confirmed it cost close to $200 to remedy. That includes a day of missed work for her, buying treatments, dry cleaning several items in her home, the nit comb, washing everything, vacumning everything using a special vacumn. It was crazy plus the time to nit pick her hair and her kids' hair- 3 girls w long hair.


-when family comes into town to visit. They stay at ILs normally but adding in particpating in events nearby such as tourist attractions, taking in a ball game etc. Or having everyone over for dinner to give my aging ILs a break. It adds up pretty quickly. They are due to invade for Easter and we are wisely packing up and heading out of town. LOL


-another strange one, we had a tragic death in our family 2 years ago. This whole event cost DH and I about $500. It could have been much more if we had to fly out of town which happens, but going back and forth across town to ILs for whatever, several tanks of gas, picking up people from the airport, buying DH a new suit (which he has used several times after), cell phone bill- several mins  making arrangments, catering costs. It added up and pretty quickly. The funeral cost the surving family severalt housands of dollars, but it was several small expenses that hit us.



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#12 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 11:27 AM
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Yes, on the death. My father passed away last year and we spent much of the previous year traveling to visit with him. Boy, did that get expensive! Hotel, gas, boarding the dog, missing work days (self-employed), toys to entertain the kids at the hospital and funeral. It really adds up.


Sickness added up for us this winter, too. Vapo-rubs, juice (not a usual purchase), etc. all adds up quickly.


And we rescued a puppy this month. Oy. LOL. $300+ dollars later for vet bills, puppy food, collar, leash, interesting toys. Glad we saved the little guy from our pound, but "free dog" is no such thing.


Lots of new babies lately in my circle of friends....that gets pricey, too.


I can't get past the price of greeting cards: $4 for someone to read it, display it for a few days, and then pitch it? I, too, go for the 99 cent ones. And used to make all our own when that was too much. LOL.

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#13 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 11:37 AM
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Oh yeah having to treat lice totally KILLS the budget!  Just another reason that I DESPISE lice!!!!


And sickness... extra vitamins, essential oils, special foods for cranky kids, herbal teas, etc... argh!


Re the greeting cards - isn't that why we have kids?  So we can get them to *make* totally cute original artwork cards?!?  winky.gif  


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#14 of 14 Old 03-04-2011, 11:49 AM
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Postage. I send lots of cards and It amazes me how I can drop $15 at the post office. Parcels are even worse.

Kids birthday presents. We are just starting out with birthday parties and I have no idea yet how to budget for them.

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I agree on sickness. My son had a terrible bought of diaper rash and four prescriptions and a doctors visit later we were $150 poorer.

I have been making my own cards for years (I find it fun and use a pack of cardstock as the base) so the price of commercial cards always gets me.




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