Benjamin Franklin put it best: “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” Although that advice hails from the 18th century, it continues to hold true today. If there’s a single culprit for ruining budgets, it’s unplanned expenses. This is sometimes referred to as the latte factor, even though there’s not always lattes involved. Does that mean you’ve got to cut those expenses entirely? Not necessarily. With some care and attention, you may very well find you have latte money to spare.
The first part of learning how to protect your budget is to understand your individual habits. When it comes to budgets, your enemy is almost always an expense you didn’t expect (like an emergency) or a splurge you didn’t plan for. Be it surprise movie tickets or a sudden issue with your car, both have a chance to throw a wrench into the workings of your budget. The difference between the two is that movie tickets can actually be planned. Car trouble may be harder to prepare for unless you have an emergency fund.
A potential solution
With the causes of budget troubles in mind, it’s time to talk about honesty.
Honesty is the cornerstone of any good budget. A budget that is built with honesty in mind is far less likely to come under siege from unexpected expenses. Maybe you desperately need that latte a few mornings every week to save your sanity. As long as you’re honest and factor it into your budget, it’s perfectly fine. Just know a few lattes every week still adds up. No matter the cost, as long as it’s included in your budget, then it won’t surprise you with undue harm. Consider it almost like the fun version of an emergency fund: a little money set aside for the treats in your life.
Be careful to balance your budget often and ensure that you’re not using money that was earmarked for something more important. Outside of that, if you think you can, treat yourself! You deserve it.