by Vicky Monroe
In my last post, I wrote about the new budget my spouse and I are trying to follow. Things went well for a few weeks, but this week I’ve discovered a few holes in our budget that we need to plug.
My older sister is visiting us this week. Since we planned to mostly eat at home and hang out around the house, I didn’t think I needed to budget much for her stay. However, we ended up deciding to take a spur-of-the-moment day trip to Mackinac Island since she’s never been there and doesn’t know when she’ll be here in Michigan again.
Mackinac Island has always been expensive, but prices have definitely gone up since the last time I was there two or three years ago. The ferry tickets for three people were $80, some fudge and a pecan log was $24, and a rootbeer float and a cup of ice cream was a whopping $32. Thank goodness we packed our own lunch and were willing to walk around the island instead of renting bikes or taking a carriage ride! By the end of the day we calculated that we had walked nearly six miles, so we definitely got our steps in.
We also went out to eat twice—luckily not on the island so it was cheaper—and visited a museum. These unplanned expenses made me realize that we probably need a staycation fund. To everyone who commented that I didn’t account for travel on the last post, you were totally right!
Even though my spouse and I don’t like to travel, we do have guests visit us sometimes, and it’s nice to be able to treat them to fun experiences while they’re here. Plus, there are some concerts coming up that my spouse and I may want to go to, so it’s good to have some savings set aside for special events. So maybe I’ll call it an “experience fund” instead of a travel fund since we’re homebodies who like to stay within a two-hour radius of our house at all times!
I also realized this week that I don’t have a line item in my budget for health and wellness spending. Last year I set up a home gym, mainly because the nearest gym I could join is 30 minutes away from my tiny rural town. Because I don’t have any health-related memberships or subscriptions, I forgot to account for health spending beyond our health insurance premiums and copays in our revised budget.
Lately I’ve been trying to lose the 20 pounds I gained during COVID quarantine, but haven’t been making much progress. I thought it would be helpful to try out a dieting app like Noom to support my efforts, which costs about $15 per month. My therapist also suggested I see a nutritionist to lose weight in a healthy way since I had restrictive eating habits as a teen. Working with a nutritionist can be costly, but you can’t put a price tag on health. If a few hundred dollar sessions is what I need to kickstart my weight loss and get in shape, then that’s money well spent in my book!
Where Is This Money Coming From?
Luckily the money needed to fund these two new sinking funds should be hitting our bank account soon. My spouse works in sales and closed a huge deal a few weeks ago. So this month’s bonus should be double what it usually is. That check should be big enough to put $200 or $300 in each of these new sinking funds to start things off.
How often do you reevaluate and revise your budget? Do you have any budgeting tips on how to create an accurate budget that doesn’t leave anything out? Sometimes I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to budgeting because it seems like I forget to factor in occasional expenses. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.