Sneaky Costs Everybody Forgets to Budget For

Photo: ThinkstockBy Amy Shearn

The Pinterest-Pretty Wedding at the Italian Villa

No, you're not imagining it. These days, one in four couples ties the knot in a far-flung locale rather than the local country club, according to a study by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com. In other words, 24 percent of nuptials are now destination weddings, up from 20 percent in 2009, and the chances are good you'll be invited to one of them. Even assuming your hosts follow the etiquette suggested by TheKnot.com's Destination Wedding site and provide you with free events and transportation during the festivities, you're still going to be on the hook for your own airfare, hotel rooms, restaurant meals, kenneling pets at home and so on. So remember what a joy it is to be able to share this blessed event as you set aside the $1,500 or so it will take to make it happen.

Fixing Your Forever Boots

In the 18th century, people generally had one pair of shoes that they repaired and wore and repaired ad infinitum. They felt so attached to their one-and-only footwear that, naturally, they believed the shoes held a bit of their souls within the soles, and thus they bricked spent shoes into walls to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. Still, we fail to plan for these repairs: The Minneapolis-based George's Shoes, who used to bring my favorite boots back to life every winter, charges up to $25.75 to reglue a heel, for example. Less than a new pair of boots, but that kind of thing adds up. Alterations and cleaning are often overlooked, too. Having a pair of pants hemmed will probably cost at least $10. The cashmere sweater that speaks to your heart is also going to speak to your dry cleaning bill. (Chicago-area chain Laurens Cleaners has a helpful list of estimated alteration costs here.)

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When Quimby Eats the Barbie Shoes

I have had a dog for a decade, and I don't think I have ever once taken her into account when planning my budget. Oops. The 2011-2012 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Surveyfound that dog owners paid roughly $407 and cat owners $425 last year for surgical vet visits per pet--and that's on top of routine visits, which ran on average $248 for dogs and $219 for cats. Pet expert Sandy Robins has some advice on how to deal, since not even pet insurance covers everything. Robins told me, "Consider initiating a special savings plan for your pet at a bank of your choice and deposit a fixed amount every month." This way, you'll be prepared financially (even if not quite emotionally) when that awful unexpected vet cost slams you.

Flying the Crowded Skies

Travel should get a special prize for hidden costs. You "save money" by choosing connecting flights, and then spend your savings on the food, coffee and weird impulse buys (hello, travel alarm clock with built-in thermometer) you need to survive your five-hour layover. You "save even more money" by traveling off-season, only to spend on inside attractions and restaurant meals because it's freaking freezing in Paris in February. Last year's estimate of what a vacation would cost will not cut it this year. International Business Times reports business-class airfares will increase by 1 to 3 percent, while economy airfares will rise by 2 to 4 percent, and travel to certain countries (Brazil, Russia and India, among them) will increase even more.

The 2-Latte, Icy-Step Ankle Snap

The really clever budget-maker accounts for healthcare costs--copays, prescriptions, the annoyingly expensive but wizardly pediatric dentist who is the only one your child won't bite but who doesn't take health insurance. Then you slip on the ice while bringing your co-worker a latte and the whole game changes: Your insurance pays for the surgery, if you're lucky, but usually requires copays (at least) for other treatments. A friend of mine was hit by a car while riding her bike and had her ankle shattered; her recovery involved months of physical therapy and acupuncture. Medical costs can keep racking up for much longer than what you'd imagine. (If that's making you feel anxious, never fear: Get some of Dr. Oz's tips on how you can save money on health care here.)


All Toilets Go to Heaven

As proud new homeowners last year, my husband and I basked in the glow of grown-upness for 15 minutes or so. Then the dishwasher broke. We had remembered to account for taxes and our homeowners insurance, but what about the other little surprises? And by that, I don't mean the cute wallpaper you suddenly realize is perfect for the foyer. I mean, like when the plumbing fails just as your in-laws walk through the door. Or what happened to home-renovation blogger Katy Elliott right after she moved into her Massachusetts house: the pipes backed up because they were filled with mysterious roots. And the mosaic-tile fund goes to an emergency visit from the special pipes guy. Mortgage resource site HSH.com suggests that homeowners set aside 1 percent of their home's value per year for unexpected costs. On a $300,000 house, that's $3,000 for the year.


A Real, Grown-up Party

If you live in a third-grade classroom, then all you need to do to make something feel festive is order a large pepperoni pie, declare the day to be "pizza party," and boom, everyone's happy. Barring that, a party costs some money. Now, I myself am a budget-conscious lady. (That's my kind, self-loving way of saying "cheap.") But even I know that milestone birthdays--yours, someone else's--require a serious commitment to celebration. From New York City publicist and PR consultant Lauren Cerand, one of Flavorpill's 50 New York Culture Makers: "The best advice I was ever given came years ago, when I told a friend I'd spent a week's pay to have calla lilies flown in from Peru for a party. 'Spend next week's check on the booze.' I did, and although I had to skip lunch and walk everywhere for a while, I've never regretted it." While this might be a little extreme for most of us, the sentiment behind it is useful to keep in mind: Every now and then, you are going to want to go big. The resulting soiree will be unforgettable.(And if you want to make sure the cost won't be a shock, Evite has a helpful detailed calculator here.)

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