• Travel. Whether it is a family vacation, an out-of-town funeral or wedding, or sporting events for the kids, traveling costs money. Try to anticipate as many of these events as possible, and work the cost into the budget.
• Major purchases. Buying a home, purchasing a vehicle, remodeling the house or that long-awaited state-of-the-art entertainment, are examples ofexpenses that need to be considered and planned for.
• Charitable giving. Being generous is a virtue. However, being generous to a fault isn’t. Review previous giving patterns to estimate 2014 donations.
• Health insurance choices. Recent changes will potentially have a major impact on a spending plan. In addition to medical insurance, account for anticipated dental and prescription drug needs in the budget.
• Investing. Time is money’s best friend, particularly for those with a long time horizon. Regular, disciplined investing is a critical part of long-term wealth building.
• Debt reduction. Instead of allocating minimum monthly payments into the budget, set a date by which all current credit card debt will be eliminated. This step will free up money to go toward satisfying goals such as saving or investing.
“The likelihood of being in a better financial place at this time next year starts with the decisions we make now,” continues Cunningham. “Although there are things outside of our control, planning today protects against tomorrow’s uncertainties.”