Projected Expenses what on earth are they? I’ve had many people who have started to budget thanks to this blog and my persistent chirping like an old git (but I’m not that old) ask about why budgets and projected expenses are so important.
Today, I’m going to explain to you why and what projected expenses are and how they helped us become debt and mortgage free before the age of 40.
Please note at the time of writing this post we did have a mortgage but I wanted to update the post to let you all know that it is possible to kill your debt and think about your future retirement.
Our Projected Expenses Journey
Just the other day a reader asked what amount of debt we had before we needed to get back on track and on a budget. The answer is that we would have budgeted even if we had no debt although we actually didn’t start budgeting until 2011 on a spreadsheet. There are many reasons why people go into debt but the big reason is because they are not budgeting and being mindful of their spending habits.
Mrs. CBB and I started the concept of budgeting on an excel spreadsheet and it grew to what it is today and continues to evolve each year.
Note: Our spreadsheet titled the Canadian Budget Binder Spreadsheet and is now FREE for all fans to download and use along with many other valuable free tools on the blog.
Moving forward to 2012 we reflected on our 2011 year and were confused about why our emergency savings would go up and down especially since we were budgeting like we planned. I mean we stuck to the budget but what was going on?
I’ll tell you what was going on, we were skimming from our own emergency savings to pay for stuff that wasn’t even an emergency. Eventually we realized that we weren’t saving money for expenses that occur every 2, 3 or 4 months or even yearly. That is when our “projected expenses” account was born.
Our definition of projected expenses are expenses that have yet to be billed or purchased but we know we will have to purchase or pay for at some point. Effectively these are the numbers many people forget about when budgeting but are crucial to overall budgeting success.
The money has to come from somewhere to pay for these bills. For those that don’t have an emergency savings account, where are you getting the money from if you are not saving for it?
Most people get overwhelmed and put it on a line of credit or credit cards but do they really need to do this? Probably not if they budget correctly and consider their projected expenses every year. This is how debt can easily start to build but I’m going to show you how you can get rid of the stress that comes with bills you can’t pay for but know you have to.
Projected Expenses example
Yearly we need to get licence plate stickers at $74 each so $148 per year. We save $12.33 every month all year-long in projected expenses for this expense.
We calculated and figured we would need about $160 a month for gas for our vehicles BUT we didn’t factor in maintenance costs ie: oil changes, Krown rust control application every winter, plate sticker and 5 year licence renewal etc. So where does this money come from if we are not budgeting for it?
It comes from the emergency savings, but are these expenses really what we would call an emergency? Not in our books they are not, at least not any longer. These are everyday expenses just spread out throughout the year although not everyone has emergency money either.
Another example is our Hydro/Water bill that comes every 2 months. If the bill did not come in April that money would get dumped into the emergency savings then pulled out again in May when the bill came due.
So we think we have x amount saved in our emergency savings but do we really? What is the true number? For us we wanted a true number not one that we would have to estimate.
Projected Expenses equal less stress
We developed the projected expenses bank account with President’s Choice Financial (PC)which is a great bank because we never have to pay any banking fees. It’s actually just another savings account along with our high interest and chequing account. So we now have 3 accounts with the PC bank that we shuffle money into each month.
If you think it sounds time-consuming or tough, think again, its pathetically easy but you must be organized to budget in the first place. If you can’t grasp the concept of keeping organized with your finances and budget you can potentially make a right mess of your finances when banking. This is why so many people want their finances to be automated but even then serious errors can happen.
- Chequing Account
- High Interest Savings Account
- Savings Account (projected savings)
We needed to think of everything we knew we would have to pay for each year when designing our budget and our budget categories. I understand that things will ‘pop up’ but that’s why it’s important to have a miscellaneous category and to think outside of the box when setting your projected expenses.
Worse case you save a bit more money than expected but at least you aren’t pulling money from places you shouldn’t. It also helps the first year to build up the account so the money is there to override expenses as they come in.
So, if you have $2000 in the projected savings account and your taxes come due at $843 and a few other big-ticket items the money is ready and waiting to get used. No stress having to worry where the money will come from because you’ve saved it already.
You have to start somewhere so it will take time to build up the projected expenses account for the overlaps but it’s not necessary it just makes it easier. You decide what categories you develop that are projected expenses and what are not.
We broke it down and although we have more categories than most we at least know that we are saving for what we know we will, at some point, get billed for.
So again to keep this example simple lets look at our yearly house taxes as that’s a fair bit of cash coming out of the bank account each year.
Example: We pay about $3200 a year for house taxes every 3 months 4 times per year the city wants just over $800 from us. This money used to just get pulled from our emergency savings which was wrong.
We never even factored it into the budget let alone saved for it as we just went to the big account (like turn off the big light) every time we needed to. Sadly the excitement of the emergency savings account growing had lost its appeal. It was like seeing your stocks or investments going up and down every month and not understanding why or better yet not trying to figure it out.
So, now we have a category titled house taxes and we save around $278.00 monthly. At the end of the month we look at our budget and it tells us how much money we need to transfer to our projected expenses bank account and we do just that. It’s that easy, as we set it up to tell us how much to move.
We move projected expenses all year-long even if a bill is paid as the overlapping is always needed especially going into the next year. Don’t worry you won’t lose sleep on interest loss from a high interest savings account but you also won’t be sitting on thousands of dollars you won’t be using.
When the bill comes due now we just take the money from the projected expenses account and we don’t have to worry about our high interest savings account going down. It’s also nice to know that the money is set aside for these expenses when they come due.
Like I mentioned earlier some people don’t have an emergency savings so the money has to come from somewhere to pay these bills. If you are super disciplined you could keep it in one account but it’s easier for us to know what’s what by having the separate accounts.
So if you struggle when those bills come in that are not monthly or unexpected sit down with a piece of paper and look at your budget categories. Think about each category and see if you are missing some things that you should have added in and should be saving for each month.
You can review our monthly family budget updates and see what we have in our budget as projected expenses. The best feeling is knowing the money is there and seeing our emergency savings grow towards the goals we set out.
Over the past 4 months I’ve had a few of my fans testing our Free Canadian Budget Binder Spreadsheet and here is what one fan had to say….
I just showed my hubby our bank balances and he was very impressed with them. We have over $2500 in our chequing account and just over $1000 in our projected expenses account.This may not seem like a lot to you, but it’s AMAZING for us. We used to always be “in the hole” and living on our credit line. He’s even more happy because I let him enter a charity golf tournament this weekend (the guy running it knows I’m cheap so he let him join for half the price because they needed another guy). A small cost of $55 and I make a happy hubby…I can handle it.
Thanks Mr.CBB for all your hard work.
So although this may not be for everyone it works for us and it really helps us to see a clear picture of our finances each month. It also helps couples who budget together stop with the money fights and money problems they have because the money is being saved. I like to think of it as an open book and not a book with missing pages.
How do you budget for expenses that aren’t monthly?
New: Below is our 10 Step Budgeting Series that you can click and read. These are not downloadable tools, rather tools that will help you to learn how we designed our budget and how you can too!
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 1– Gathering All the information
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 2– Categories
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 3– Tracking Receipts
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 4- Note-taking
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 5– 5S Organization
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 6– Who Does What and When?
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 7– Balancing Our Budget
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 8– Knowing our Coupon Savings
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 9– Reading Our Bills
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 10– Projected Expenses and 3 Foolproof Ways to save for One-time Expenses
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