Can we talk about unexpected expenses?
It’s been a while since I provided a life and money update. This year is already shaping out to be more costly than previous years.
Ever since this year started, my expenses have seemed to be going through the roof because lately. I’ve been faced with a ton of unexpected costs and circumstances. They haven’t been life-threatening emergencies thankfully, but just those slightly annoying expenses that come up at the worst times.
As many of you know, I have a goal to pay off my remaining student loan balance this year and I’m determined to meet that goal even though there are several distractions.
Confession: I Don’t Have Hundreds of Dollars Lying Around to Spend
A few weeks ago, I received a letter in my son’s school folder about a summer reading program. Improving his reading skills this year is a priority so I was definitely interested in signing him up considering the fact that we are trying to send him to a private school next year and the work will be more advanced.
Private school is EXPENSIVE…like community college expensive which has been a hard pill for my husband and me to swallow, but we know we’re making the right decision because we want our son to have a more faith-based education and the school he currently goes to is just average in terms of academics and having everything we’re looking for.
Anywho, I called the number on the flyer to get more information about the program and a friendly lady answered and proceeded to tell me about how everything worked and she entered all my son’s information into the system. It was weird at first because I told her that I was just calling to get some basic information and she started registering me on the phone.
The summer program came out to be $300 plus $30 for materials. When the woman on the phone asked for my payment information, I told her that I’d have to call them back after talking to my husband about it to see if we’d have the money. She then advised me to call back quickly so my son would have a spot reserved.
Granted, I had just received the flyer for the reading program that day I couldn’t understand what the big rush was and I don’t know who has $300+ just lying around to spend on a random summer program they just found out about.
So I admit it, I’m not one of those people who keep lots of money lying around. I have a small checking account buffer and a cushy emergency fund but I am very strict on what I spend my savings on since I have such a fluctuating income each month. but pretty much all of my money is accounted for and I’m committed to making huge debt payments each month.
Mind you, big expenses have been popping up consistently since January so my buffer has already taken quite a hit but I haven’t touched my EF. Otherwise, I’m still following a budget and most of my money is accounted for since I make large debt payments each month with any ‘extra’ money I have.
This reading program is super important though so we will work to pay for it, I just didn’t like how they sprung it up on parents at the last minute and expected us to pay for it that day.
Those Darn Medical Bills
My husband and I have been going to the doctor quite a bit for various different non-emergency and the bills just seem to keep coming in. I recently started following a ketogenic diet (which is an extremely low-carb, moderate protein, high fat-fat diet) to help aid with my weight loss goals this year.
I decided to get some bloodwork done and get my hormones checked because I’m at that point where I really want to see results and figure out what’s going on in my body so I can make sure it’s not working against itself.
My husband got bloodwork done too and found out his Vitamin D was low 🙁 He has a health savings account (HSA) through his employer but we’re saving the money in the account for the tax advantages so we have no intention of using the HSA money. We’ve decided to budget to pay for our medical bills in cash. It still sucks though either way.
Finally, car repairs have been slowly piling up too. My car has been falling apart somewhat on the outside but it’s been doing okay on the inside which is what’s most important to me.
Sometimes the check engine light comes on for a few days then it goes off by itself. Does this happen to anyone else?
Two of the door handles are broken and my driver side window doesn’t want to go down some days which is really inconvenient now that the weather is getting nicer.
Yet and still, these aren’t urgent things I need to get fixed so I can live with it. My husband on the other hand, tends to have more maintenance to do since he drives for Uber.
How to Handle Non-Emergency Unexpected Expenses
Unexpected expenses can be the worst, but in a way, you have to be prepared and know how you’ll handle them. If you’ve been having some months that have been packed with annoyingly unexpected expenses like me, here are a few things you can do.
Resort To Your Emergency Fund
Your emergency fund is your first line of defense when it comes to an unexpected expense. Personally, I find it hard to part with the money that I worked so hard to save but I find comfort knowing that I can afford emergency expenses when they pop up.
We used a little money from our emergency fund to make repairs on my husband’s car last month because his were more severe than the minor issues with my car. We try to have at least 3 months worth of expenses in our EF since we’re still trying to pay off debt, and we keep it in high-yield savings account with CapitalOne 360.
Use a Checking Account Buffer
Building up a checking account buffer is a great way to protect the money in your emergency fund. I used to have a larger one but need to rebuild it. It really would have come in handy when I found out about the $300 reading program for my son.
Ideally, I’d like to have anywhere from $500 – $1,000 in my checking account as a buffer but how much you set aside really depends on your needs and situation. My basic monthly expenses are around $1,800 so a $1,000 checking account buffer does the trick for me.
A checking account buffer can help you avoid getting into debt when you have to pay a quick and unexpected expense and it will take too long to transfer the funds from your EF.
Finally, sometimes you just have to say no when some expenses pop up. I love fun family outings, but when an opportunity recently presented itself and I didn’t see myself being able to afford it, I just took a rain check.
It’s okay to say no sometimes especially when you already have other plans for my money. Saying no to one thing also means you’re saying yes to something else – your financial goals.
You can also find a more affordable alternative for certain expenses or consider doing a spending freeze to force yourself to get more creative instead of resorting to spending money first.
Everyone has unexpected expenses but it’s all about how you deal with them. Emergencies and necessities should qualify for the use of your emergency fund or checking account buffer. For other expenses, consider finding an affordable alternative, pushing it off until later when you have the money, or simply saying no.
How do you deal with unexpected expenses?
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