Re: How do you figure clothes, furniture, or other irregular items into your budget?
I have a certain amount for each mandatory bill and expense (including food). Then a big amount budgeted for my credit card (paid off each month). So anything that isn't a fixed expense goes on there. That means gas for my car, pet food, clothes, entertainment, eating out, registering a car at the DMV, cleaning supplies, etc... all gets applied to my "misc" category. I don't like breaking it down any more than that even though gas and pet food occur each month, the amount will vary.
I'm really good about keeping track of it and knowing that certain months will have some big expenses so I'll have to skip out on extras. I'm good about planning ahead and spreading the big costs out. But sometimes that last week or few days I know I can't spend anything extra to stay under my monthly "misc" category budget. It takes a lot of planning ahead, but it works for me. This does not work for DH. He also has a certain amount he can put on his credit card (paid in full). And sometimes he goes over by 3x the amount! He'll point out that during the summer he had some months with practically nothing so it all evens out! Um no, not when I try to keep our spending under the same amount every month. Oh well. I've tried cash, or breaking down each category even more, but it just doesn't work for me. I also like racking up the reward points and getting cash back.
If something big happens then it's a little different. It looks like our water heater is dying. I haven't priced it yet, but I'm assuming it will be several hundred dollars to replace if replacing the $20 heating element doesn't fix it. I will cut down my misc spending as much as possible that month, but I will also have to borrow from myself (my savings account) to pay the difference (and work on paying myself back through my misc category). We do have a little bit of a buffer in the checking account too since not all months are the same and we don't account for any surplus... so we might use our buffer money if something big happens.