It must be something in the air around here, because unexpected expenses are popping up out of the woodwork like crazy. I had a doctor’s appointment. Our dog started limping for no apparent reason yesterday, and since he needs a trip to the vet anyway for shots, we’ll have that looked at too. This morning, I got up and grabbed my glasses — and they fell apart. And who knows what I’ll learn at the periodontist appointment I have later today.
So how do you handle unexpected expenses? There are pretty much three options: avoiding, minimizing, and planning ahead.
I used to pretty much just stress out, because for a while there I didn’t have enough money for basics, let alone unexpected expenses. So back then, I’d try to avoid them. I would probably not have gone to the doctor unless something seemed pretty desperate, I’d have taken a wait and see approach with the dog (which we may do anyway, since it could be something very minor). I still try to avoid unexpected expenses where possible, but sometimes it’s hard.
Minimizing is another option. For example, we can get shots for our dog much cheaper if we take him to Animal Control. They offer vaccines too, and it’s quick, easy, and pretty darn cheap. If you can make it past all the other animals up for adoption without bringing a few home, that is. For something like glasses, there are places online where you can get a replacement pair very inexpensively. I’m a big fan of ZenniOptical. Or there’s always duct tape, depending on what’s broken. And of course you can always do things like shopping around for car insurance. If you’re in the UK, click here to get a quote.
Of course, in many cases being proactive by taking good care of things in the first place can minimize expenses. When it comes to your health, preventative care is much less expensive (and easier) then trying to deal with a problem that’s been going on for a while or that has progressed. Sometimes though, you still have health issues or other types of things that pop up, despite your best efforts to prevent them. That’s where planning ahead comes in.
No, you can’t plan ahead for your dog to wake up with a limp, or your son to need an emergency appendectomy. Nor would you want anything like that to happen. But you can categorize the most basic types of things that you end up spending money on unexpectedly, and plan ahead in general.
For example, you can build an emergency fund for the big stuff, and you can set aside money regularly for the smaller things. Some people like to keep a fairly large cushion in their checking account that’s enough for the stuff that may pop up each month. I prefer to keep various funds.
By far, planning ahead has been the best way to handle things in our situation. It’s so much less stressful to not have to worry about money on top of whatever is going on.
How do you handle unexpected expenses?Posted in Money Management on 05.04.12 with 9 comments.