Creating a budget is never easy, as it can take months or even years to perfect the process. And on top of that, life is always changing so a budget that worked a few months ago might not necessarily work now. In fact, even the most detail oriented person often have a hard time creating a budget that works.

If you overspend and the budget fails, it isn’t necessarily for a lack of trying. One of the most common reasons people find budgeting so hard is because there are so many different expenses to keep track of. The big ones, like housing and food, are obvious. But there are so many little things we forget about that can derail a budget from the start. The next time you evaluate your budget, consider these six expenses that people often forget:
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Back-to-college shopping can get expensive. Besides tuition and books, there’s clothing, class supplies, and — of course — dorm essentials. The National Retail Federation’s Back to College survey reports that this year students (or their parents) will spend an average of $969.88 for dorm furnishings and college supplies. Of this spending, the top four categories are projected to be electronics, clothing, snacks and food items, and furnishings.

While this might seem like a small dent compared to the cost of tuition and housing, it can take a significant chunk out of a student’s savings or, worse, end up on a credit card. The question, then, is how many of these ‘essentials’ are necessary? Regardless of how convincingly retailers market their back to college lists and attractively arrange their mock dorm showrooms, it’s doubtful students really need all of that.

Based on feedback from students and parents who have learned the hard way, here are a few things you do and don’t need as you start getting ready to go back to college.
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Congratulations! You’ve just landed yourself a big promotion a work, got a substantial return on an investment, or maybe even won the lottery. Whatever it may be, an increase in income always warrants celebration. Many people get too excited and increase their spending habits too much in response though. As a result, they only find themselves back where they started or maybe even worse.

Lifestyle inflation is hard to curb with any increase in income. The temptation to spend is real and definitely hard to avoid, no matter how determined you might be. After all, you’ve worked so hard for it, and you should be able to enjoy it. However, it’s important to be mindful of what you do with your extra income at the same time. While it may be hard, making wiser decisions now will set you up for a better financial future in the long run. If you’ve recently found yourself in a position with more income, here are some tips to help you curb lifestyle inflation wisely:

Understand Your Goals

It’s easy to spend money but saving it is much harder. Before you go out and make a big purchase with your new found income, take a moment and understand your short-term and long-term goals. Where do you want to be in 5 to 10 years? What do you need to change now to get there later? Re-evaluating your goals will help you plan better for your future and also remind you of the challenges you might face and the decisions you need to make now to get there later. While a raise today seems significant, it might only be a dent in the bucket in the long term.

Re-Examine Your Budget

You should always re-examine your budget on a regular basis but it is especially important when you get a raise. First, ask yourself this – would spending more in any categories make you significantly happier? Would keeping your budget as is negatively effect your standard of living at all? If the answer is no to either, consider keeping your budget the same. While you might want to spend a little extra here and there, keeping your spending habits the same will save you more.

Transfer to Your Savings

As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. You should consider automatically transferring excess fund directly to your savings account. You can set this up to occur monthly or biweekly so that you won’t forget. This way, you’ll watch your savings account grow nicely over time. However, it’s also a good idea to start thinking about how you can invest these savings as it grows. Investing the money wisely will help you get more return over time.

Prioritize Your Debt

How to pay off debt should be one of the first things you think about if you owe. Letting debt sit over time of course builds interest. If you have extra funds to put towards paying your debt down, you should definitely consider it. Once it’s all paid off, you’ll feel a burden lifted off your shoulders. You’ll then be able to really enjoy a lifestyle inflation if you choose to.

Splurge a Little

Lastly, it’s ok to splurge a little. Often times when people talk about lifestyle inflation, there’s a definite negative connotation attached to it. Yes, many people take it to the extreme and start spending money they don’t really even have. But with smart, strategic decisions, you can still enjoy a small boost to your lifestyle while saving for your future. So go ahead, invest a little bit of the sum on yourself. You should be able to enjoy it. Just don’t make it a common occurrence.

It can feel uncomfortable asking people for donations, even on behalf of a cause or charity you strongly support. This is especially true when the cause is personal: your child’s extracurricular events or college education, a family member’s non-insured medical bills, legal fees surrounding an adoption, or maybe travel expenses for volunteer work. Then there are things it feels downright wrong to ask donations for: a special anniversary celebration, the down payment on your home, and other categories that seem more like wants than needs.

Besides feeling uncomfortable about asking for donations, most of us don’t have the marketing budgets, media channels, or equipment to throw a big event that attracts a lot of attention and support. While you could always grab a coffee can and go door to door, here are a few more comfortable ways to reach your personal fundraising goals on a tight budget.
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Job security is something many of us take for granted too often. Whether it’s because of poor business or the fledgling economy, layoffs often times take employees by surprise. Even if you’re performing well at work, you should always be prepared to lose your job just in case. As with anything in life, you never know what could happen and that includes losing your primary income.

So what do you really do if you get laid off? Taking these 5 steps will help you get back on your feet more easily:
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We’ve all heard the saying “money can’t buy happiness.” While most of us would agree that contentment isn’t tied to how much money or stuff we have, a recent study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identified an exception to this principle: when money buys us time.

After surveying 6,000 participants in the U.S., Canada, Denmark, and The Netherlands, the researchers found that people who spent money on time-saving services like housecleaning or transportation, versus other things, reported greater overall happiness.

An explanation for this starts with the stress created by modern life. To those of us with demanding careers or lifestyles, obligations like household chores and errands we don’t enjoy build stress and tension — especially when doing them ourselves leaves us with little time left over. That’s why every little bit of time we can spend relaxing or doing tasks we enjoy alleviates some of that stress and ultimately leaves us happier.

So, to summarize, money can buy time; and, when we have more time, we’re happier.
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