3 Things That Always, Always Go Over-Budget

There are always costs that we don't anticipate. While we can't think of everything, we can plan for the known unknowns, and create a budget buffer for the incidentals we can't predict when undertaking these three things that always, always go over budget. (See also: This Is Why You Think Things Cost Less Than They Always Do)


Why is moving a budget buster? First, you must buy boxes and pack. You might run late, and have to add packing service to your hired movers' package. Some of the furniture won't break down as easily, so you must get help to disassemble and reassemble the furniture. The movers need to take one more trip than expected. You have to buy or rent cleaning products or hire a maid service to scrub up the old place. You offered to buy pizzas for your friends who helped you move. You might need help unpacking the new place. This is not including the rent and deposit or money down and mortgage on the new home!

Staying on Budget

First, start preparing for your move at least 30 days from the moving date so you don't run out of time. This prevents having to cough up fees for last minute add-ons.

Make an inventory of what you're moving, by room. This will force you to go through your stuff and throw away what you don't need to move in the first place, which will immediately decrease the number of boxes you must buy and how long the movers are working — especially good if you are the mover!

Boxes. Get them at your local grocery, dollar, or general store. They will happily give you any extra boxes from the stockroom. You will still need to buy special boxes for electronics and other fragile items, but fewer of them.

Instead of hiring a full-service moving company, rent your own truck and hire several local college students. Pay the college kids a flat rate plus one meal instead of an hourly rate. This will ensure that they will finish as fast as they can!


One of the many things people neglect to tell you is how expensive a wedding is. Young couples are increasingly paying themselves, but have no idea how to start getting quotes. The venue needs insurance, then it requires a specific caterer and a valet. The flowers end up costing way more than expected because you had your heart set on roses at a winter wedding. The place cards cost more to print than anticipated. Because there are so many details the Wedding Industrial Complex forces on you, the are so many tiny ways the budget can get away from you.

Staying on Budget

First, both bride and groom should agree upon a budget and create a budget spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is the decision maker on all wedding expenses. There should be a "target ceiling" and a "hard ceiling." Shoot for the lower target ceiling, but if something becomes more expensive than planned, you'll have a small buffer. Nothing goes past the hard ceiling.

Start with the three items most meaningful to you both. For example, if the food, music, and photography mean the most to you, allocate the most funds to those items. That way, when the florist tells you her services will cost $3,000, you can look at the budget and decide its worth more effectively.

Learn to say no to family, friends, Pinterest, and especially yourself. Think back to the last wedding you attended. Do you remember exactly what the centerpieces looked like? Remember your three priorities. Even if your centerpieces are simple, that amazing photographer you splurged on will make everything look magical.

Also, find ways to cut corners on the less crucial things.

  • Do your RSVPs on a website like Appy Couple or Glo to save on postage and printing RSVP cards.
  • Don't want to hire a separate bartending company? Ask your venue if you can BYOB, so you can buy exactly what you need and premix drinks.
  • Care about having a great time but don't care about the time of day.
  • Many venues are cheaper on Sunday mornings or Friday evenings; ask for those times and you may get up to 20% off on venue rental.
  • Want to look gorgeous but don't need to own the look? Rent your wedding dress or tux!

Family Vacations

Incidentals like daily meals and entertainment always rack up the charges. Other charges such as booking fees, docking fees, hotel taxes, the cost of renewing your passport (and in my case, the rush order fees for the passport), and pet fees, childcare, and more all add up. Plus, you have to build in a safety budget for emergencies like natural disasters, airline losing your luggage, and injuries incurred while you're hiking the Andes.

Staying on Budget

The first step is choosing a location that is off the beaten path. You should avoid the obvious and popular locations that are not worth the extra expense. Then, make a vacation budget spreadsheet that will keep you on track in anticipating all your costs.

Find ways to plan your vacation a la carte to save money on all-inclusive resort prices. Find a good off-season time to fly. Use Airbnb or VRBO to book a condo in the vacation city to save on hotel rates and applicable taxes. If you rent a condo, you can also buy meals from a local grocery store to make breakfast and bagged lunches at the rental, then splurge on a nice dinner out.

Can't get the family to decide on a place you can afford? Try sending your children to a fun summer camp, then the parents can have a classy staycation or go on a more affordable series of weekend trips. It will add up to less than one long two-week vacation for an entire family.

Don't really have the budget for a vacation at all? Try these really low cost vacations that are still awesome.

What purchases or events always bust your budget? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

Construction or home repairs!

Amanda Meadows's picture

Yes, and home renovations are definitely worth their own article. Naturally, this post doesn't imply that these are the only things that go over-budget!

Guest's picture

I'm with Fruaglcat on home projects. And I'd also add pet costs.

Just when you think you've managed a good budget for costs your puppy goes and swallows a plastic squeaky and costs you $3,000 in surgery costs. Or is that just my puppy? :)

Amanda Meadows's picture

Poor puppy! I have a friend who cannot stop buying toys for her doggies because it brings them and her so much joy. Beside that, pets unpredictably get sick and need care just like humans, so it can be difficult to set a "puppy budget." Having a retainer fund for emergencies might help.

Guest's picture

Home construction/addition for sure!

Guest's picture

Haha Oh yeah definitely! The the vacation thing used to get me everytime... well I'm much better now that I have learned to budget and save. Good things to think about though. Thanks for the article!