Don’t Forget These 12 Easy-to-Overlook Expenses in Your 2018 Budget

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Creating an annual budget is a great way to start the year. You can set financial goals and come up with a plan to reach them, but unexpected costs can derail your meticulous budget planning.

“We can get too focused on day-to-day expenses and overlook the larger, less frequent bills until they show up in our mailboxes,” says Kendal Perez, a savings expert for Coupon Sherpa. Creating a comprehensive annual budget is a smart way to turn surprise expenses into planned-for costs you’ve got covered.

Here are some of the most commonly overlooked expenses to make sure you include in your annual budget.

1. Long- and short-term savings

A budget should include money to reach both long- and short-term saving goals. “Include a line item in your budget for your financial goals such as retirement, savings account, college education for children, etc.,” says Harrine Freeman, a finance writer and expert on debt management.

As you plan out your budget, saving is also important to ensure that you have the cash on-hand to cover costs that crop up. “By contributing regularly to a savings account, the funds can be used to pay for unexpected expenses such as vacations and repairs,” Freeman says.

2. Financial service charges

It’s important to consider the costs of managing your money. Some of these expenses are simple, like “bank fees, out-of-network ATM fees, or overdrawn bank account fees,” Freeman points out. Proper budget planning and tracking can help cut some costs, like overdraft fees.

But there are other fees worth looking at, too. For instance, consider fees and charges for retirement accounts and investments. If you get professional help to manage your finances or file your taxes, include your advisor’s fees in your annual budget.

3. Taxes

Make sure you don’t get caught off guard by a tax bill that you can’t afford to pay.

If your income or filing status has changed since last year, revisit your paycheck withholdings to ensure they are correct. Self-employed earners or those with a side income will need to spend extra time budgeting for taxes (which are often due quarterly).

4. Out-of-pocket medical costs

Among unexpected expenses, medical costs can be the most obvious — and expensive.

“Of course, it’s impossible to plan or budget for a catastrophic accident or injury,” says Jacob Dayan, partner and co-founder of tax servicer Community Tax. “But we strongly advise our clients to put in place a budget line item for medical expenses their health insurance won’t cover.”

Spend some time with your health insurance plan and estimate how often you can expect to pay for doctors’ visits, medications, new glasses or other health aids, and planned procedures.

5. Pet care

Don’t forget the annual vet visits and bills for furry members of the household, either. “Setting a reminder in your phone a month before they are due can help ensure you put the cost of the vet visit in next month’s budget,” suggests Craig Dacy, a financial coach based in Austin, Texas.

Budget for other pet care costs like specialty foods, medications, grooming, or pet sitting.

6. Home maintenance and fees

Owning a home certainly isn’t cheap, but budgeting for non-mortgage costs like home repair and maintenance will make it more manageable.

For example, “We receive our HOA fees bill every December, and it seems to get lost in the chaos of the holiday season,” Perez says. Other costs to consider include gardening and landscaping services, housekeeping services, and replacing furniture or household items.

“Home and car repairs tend to surprise people, but these are inevitable expenses you should absolutely budget for, even though they occur irregularly,” Dayan says. Consider upping this budget item if your warranties are expiring this year, as you’ll be solely responsible for those costs.

7. Vehicle maintenance and costs

Owning a vehicle also comes with costs that are too easily forgotten. Case in point: registration fees.

“This once-per-year bill is always over $100 for both of our vehicles, so it’s a bit of a gut-punch when I’m surprised (yet again) upon receipt,” says Perez. If you pay car insurance every six months or every other month instead of monthly, make sure you’re budgeting for that, too.

You can even budget for parking and speeding tickets. When I lived in an apartment with street-only parking, I averaged two parking tickets a year at around $80 each (despite my best efforts to avoid them). I added $15 a month to my transportation budget to help cover the costs, which helped take the sting out of those tickets.

8. Fluctuating utility bills

It’s also important to account for costs that might fluctuate from month-to-month, like power and gas. “The air conditioner runs more during the summer, the heat during the winter,” says Cherie Lowe, personal finance blogger at Queen of Free. “This makes it more difficult to set a specific amount for these categories of spending.”

To offset these costs, set a budget equal to the most expensive bill you got for that utility in the past year. Then, in months where it ends up being cheaper, “use the extra that might not be used toward debt or a savings goal,” Lowe suggests.

9. Event and holiday hosting

Annual budgets can be particularly helpful for catching one-off expenses, like special celebrations and holidays.

“Most of us plan for birthdays and the big holidays like Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, but many of the smaller celebrations get overlooked,” Lowe says. This can include a Super Bowl bash or summer cookouts.

10. Gifts

Take a look at each month and plan for the costs of gift-giving. This might include events like weddings, anniversaries, graduations, and other life events. And don’t forget thank-you gifts, such as holiday tips or gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week.

11. Donations and charity

Whether you give regularly or sporadically, a budget can help you balance your spending with your giving.

“It feels good to give,” Lowe says, whether it’s to a nonprofit or someone you know who’s in need. “Putting aside a set amount, whether for a regular donation or a spur of the moment opportunity to enrich the life of another, is smart.”

12. A miscellaneous fund

Of course, it’s impossible to anticipate and track every single expense. And at some point, it can be too draining and time-consuming to try.

“A solution that can cover all of those overlooked budget items is including a ‘random needs’ line item in your budget,” Dacy suggests. “By budgeting $100 every month for random needs, your budget won’t be thrown off when a medical bill shows up in the mail or when you forget your friend’s birthday.”

Have a budget, but need help sticking to it? Here are nine strategies to stay on track, even on the weekends.

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
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2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
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2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
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2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
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Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
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2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.