Unexpected expenses can be a real drain on your finances. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself financially for these unexpected hiccups.
One of the best ways to prepare is by saving up for unexpected costs. Whether it’s car repairs or medical bills, having a savings fund set aside for such items can help keep your budget on track.
1. Create an emergency fund
Unexpected expenses, like medical bills or job loss, can be devastating. They eat away at your savings and put you into debt, making it even harder to start saving again.
Establishing an emergency fund can protect your financial stability and give you a feeling of security. It also reduces the stress that unexpected costs may cause.
Consider setting aside a specific amount of money each month for this purpose. Depending on your capacity, experts suggest saving at least one month’s worth of living expenses to get started.
Another option is to open a separate, interest-bearing account that you can easily access when needed, like a money market account or certificate of deposit (CD). Be mindful of any fees associated with money market accounts which could reduce your returns.
2. Make a list of your expenses
Tracking your expenses is an effective way to identify areas for savings. Use any convenient tool, such as a smartphone app, budgeting software, or pen and paper, to record your daily spending.
Once you’ve separated your fixed expenses from variable ones, divide the former into monthly bills you must always pay such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities and car insurance.
Next, search for ways to reduce your spending on discretionary items. For instance, if you enjoy going out to restaurants several times a week with family or friends, it could be beneficial to cut back on these costs in order to save money.
Donations to charitable organizations are another beneficial category, as they provide an opportunity to make a positive impact in the world and can also help build up your emergency fund.
3. Look for ways to save
If you need to save for an upcoming expense, try your best to plan ahead by setting aside a small amount each paycheck and setting up automatic transfers from your checking account into a separate savings account. This way, the expense won’t feel so overwhelming when the time comes.
By creating an emergency fund over time, you can ensure that in case of an unexpected expense, you don’t need to rely on your credit card for payment.
Another viable option is to participate in a spending freeze, which involves eliminating unneeded purchases for an extended period. Doing this can free up significant funds that could be put towards saving or paying down debt.
Also, when shopping for items to purchase new, consider buying second-hand. Thrift stores, garage sales or Craigslist often have great items at much cheaper prices than you’ll find them at regular stores.
4. Make a plan
Unexpected expenses can be the most challenging to budget for. Whether it’s an unexpected bill or car repair, they can throw you off track and put off major financial goals.
Fortunately, you can create a strategy to prepare for unexpected expenses and prevent them from occurring in the first place. Start by setting aside some money each month as an emergency fund. This will help ensure you always have enough money in case of emergencies.
These funds should be saved in an account designated solely for emergencies and automatically transferred out of your main account each paycheck. Doing this helps guarantee that they do not get mixed in with other non-emergency expenses.
You can prepare for unexpected expenses by setting aside money each week or month that won’t happen regularly, such as property taxes and insurance premiums. Although these don’t happen monthly, you can incorporate them into your monthly budget and set aside a fixed amount each week or month so that you have enough cash saved when it comes time to pay them off.