Featured Blogger Article - Four Expenses You Forgot to Budget For

Date posted: Jan. 6, 2016
nurse with dog

Photo Credit: Austin Community College

There are many important elements that go into successful budgeting. From tracking your spending to setting realistic amounts to making sure your budget balances. But there’s one area that is constantly tripping up new budgeters and sending Canadians back to their non-budgeting ways, and that’s budgeting for infrequent expenses.

Even the most seasoned budgeters can be derailed when a forgotten expense pops up and sends them scrambling for the money. But this can be avoided if you budget for these costs and spread the saving process over the course of the year. Here are four expenses and many Canadians forget to include in their budget.

Car Insurance and Fees

Owning a vehicle is expensive, but most Canadians don't realize just how expensive their ride is. Beyond simply putting gas in the tank, there are several other fees that you'll need to budget for, including:

  • Oil changes
  • Winter tires
  • Registration
  • License renewal
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance and repairs

Instead of being caught without these items in your budget, include them in your overall transportation budget. Not sure how much to budget? The best way to determine your actual transportation costs is to track your spending, or you can use this calculator from the Canadian Automobile Association. This calculator estimates that I spend $8,600 per year on my compact car, so I should be budgeting for monthly transportation costs of $716 per month.

Vet Bills

If you have a dog or a cat (or both!), you’ll need to budget for your pet’s annual check-up, vaccinations, and flea control. According to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the average annual cost for a visit to the veterinarian is $200 for a dog and $115 for a cat. You may also want to save a little extra for unexpected visits to the vet, or you can designate that an expense for your emergency fund. If your pet is prone to illness (as many purebreds are), consider getting pet insurance.


Christmas is one of the most costly forgotten expenses, with the average Canadian spending around $885 on the holiday season in 2014. It's also the most predictable. Not only does it occur every year, but advertisers and store owners make sure that we know it’s coming months in advance! Even with this warning, many Canadians still end the holiday season with hundreds of dollars in credit card debt, but that doesn’t have to be you!

To avoid going into debt during the holidays, start saving for Christmas at the beginning of September. Save little by little, set a budget and stick to it! Plan your gifts around what you can afford, not the other way around. Once you start Christmas shopping, keep track of how much you are spending on the holidays by saving receipts and writing everything down.

Even those with the best habits can still go over budget on the holidays, so if you do end up overspending, pay off your credit card balance as quickly as possible to minimize interest.


Whether you're tying the knot or attending a friend's happy day, planning is required to get through a wedding financially unscathed. The average guest spends $673 USD ($934 CAD) to attend a wedding in Canada, so it’s important that you start saving as soon as you receive your invitation. Put a little bit of cash away with every paycheque, book flights early to receive the best price and shop around for wedding gifts.

Home Maintenance

Did you know that you should be saving 3% to 5% of your home’s value every year to cover the cost of maintenance? According to MoneySense magazine, you can expect the annual cost of maintaining a $350,000 home to be between $10,500 and $17,500 per year.

Unfortunately, home maintenance expenses will never occur in neat and tidy increments. Instead, you could have only $5,000 in upkeep one year, and $25,000 the next year. To avoid being caught off guard, save a portion of your income every month in a home maintenance account. By keeping cash on hand for these large repairs, you’ll avoid having to put them on a credit card, line of credit, or home equity line of credit.

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