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Hidden Expenses to Include in Your Budget Plan

Lucy Miller 10th Aug 2020 2 Comments

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Most adults who in control of their own finances will know quite accurately what their expenses are every month. We know how much we need to transfer for rent or our mortgage, for example, or how much is set to come out with our phone bill. There are no hidden expenses for financial surprises… or are there?

Hidden expenses are those that might not come up every month, or that we might just forget about because they don’t seem hugely significant when compared to expenses like rent or phone bills.

It’s an annoying thing to keep track of, but the sooner we get those extra expenses organised the sooner we’ll be on our way to fully understanding where our money goes. And that’s the first step to being on top of our finances – something we all want!

Remember that, whilst budgeting for these often forgotten expenses mighty not be particularly exciting, they can definitely save you a lot of money in the long-term…

Optometrist appointments

Optician appointments often incur hidden expenses each year

Yes, even if you don’t wear glasses or contact lenses you should still get your eyes checked regularly! Optometrists can spot underlying conditions that you might not have symptoms for, so it’s important you don’t dismiss regular appointments even if your vision is 20/20. Eye tests cost around £25, and you should get them every two years. Think of a regular optical appointment like you would think of the dentist. It’s equally important! 

If you’re used to visiting the optometrist, you’re probably less likely to forget about the costs involved. Make sure you factor your contact lens subscription and the cost for any replacement glasses or frames that you might need into your budget. Don’t forget about it if it’s a direct debit! 

Remember to factor in the cost of prescription glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses – and any children’s glasses for your kids, too! Low income families may qualify for NHS vouchers to cover the cost of eye tests and/or glasses.

Prescription medications

Not many people know that you can purchase a prescription prepayment certificate that will allow you to reduce the costs of your prescriptions in England. Instead of paying £9.15 every time you need to pick up a prescription from the pharmacist, buying a certificate for either three months (£29.65) or 12 months (£105.90) will allow you as many as you need.

This is a great idea if you’re on a lot of medication. It could help a bit when you’re budgeting and cut down your hidden expenses, too. 

Some people qualify for a Medical Exemption Certificate, if they have certain medical conditions. This means any and all prescription medications are free for you, for life (though you need to renew the certificate through your doctor every 5 years). It only applies to prescriptions for you, not your family.

Books and audio subscriptions

if you read a lot, you’re likely to find that the money you spend on paperback or ebooks really starts to add up… if you choose to look into it! 

Of course there’s a good answer to this, that’s completely free if you’re trying to cut down your spending: use your local library! You shouldn’t worry if the latest release that you’re desperate to get your hands on isn’t there, either. Did you know that you can request that libraries order books in? You can, and it won’t cost you a penny. Libraries: truly the gift that we keep forgetting we have.

Even better, each time you borrow a book or access a library’s ebook collection, the author gets a (very tiny) royalty. So, you’re supporting authors AND your library – without spending anything!

Contents insurance

Contents insurance is cheaper than replacing broken items!

Ah, the one type of insurance that we always forget about… until we lose or break something significant. Contents insurance is an easy thing to put off.

We should start building it into our yearly budget, though. Knowing that it’s coming round when our lease renews, for example, will make it an easier expense to manage. Of course, you can spread this out via direct debit so you’re paying it off monthly. Do whatever works best for your finances, but do do it.

Travel insurance

Another type of insurance, this time the one that we always somehow forget to factor into the costs surrounding our holiday. Travel insurance is vital, but thousands of Brits decide to travel without it every year. We recommend taking out an annual policy to cover Europe (or wherever else you think you might be visiting) rather than individual policies every time you travel. It’ll work out cheaper this way. Just make sure you make a note of when it’s expiring, so you don’t get caught out if something goes wrong abroad. This will be even more important after 2020, as our exit from the EU will soon make our European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) invalid. 

Car Maintenance

Every year you’ll need to get your car through its MOT. You also need to pay for insurance and road tax, plus factor in fluctuating fuel prices. That’s before you think about parking expenses, too! Those quickly add up over the course of a year. If your car is leased or on a finance plan, you’ll also need to make monthly repayments, and make sure you send it for a service each year too.

Work out how much your car has cost over the last three years. Take the average and add 10% to 15% – this is how much you should set aside to make sure you can afford basic car maintenance on your vehicle plus any sudden repairs.

Emergency fund for repairs

Again, boring… but vital. Repairs to your car or home can be prohibitively expensive, and can unexpectedly put you in the red if they come at you out of the blue. You should factor the potential for emergencies into your monthly budget, putting a little bit away (even if it’s only a couple of pounds) so that you’ve got at least something saved if you need it.

Boiler maintenance

Technically, you’re supposed to have your boiler checked each year, and this is likely to cost around £90. Again, make a note of the month your boiler is due its service so that you don’t get caught out by this hidden expense. 

You may also want to consider taking out insurance to cover yourself if there is a problem. A few pounds factored into your budget every month could be the difference between being covered and having to find a huge amount of money for maintenance on short notice.  

School uniforms

We might think that school uniforms are strictly an expense for the first week of September. But when we factor in growth spurts, lost jumpers and blazers, grazed knees and PE kit that’s been spun round the washing machine multiple times a week, it becomes more clear that school supplies are actually a year-round expense. If you’re on a low income, check what help you can get with uniform expenses.  

When it comes to hidden expenses for kids, see also: school trips, stationary, new shoes (their feet grow FAST!), school books… the list goes on. 

How do you deal with hidden expenses? We’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know over on the forums.

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2 years ago

THings you often don’t think of straightaway.

3 years ago

Some useful information here. Thank you.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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