Turning Emergencies into Well-Laid Plans

Previously, we brainstormed ideas that could be used in case of a job loss. But chances are, a job loss isn’t the only type of financial emergency you’ll face during your lifetime.

And the lower your bank balance typically is, the more likely you’ll be to look at any unplanned financial expenses as an emergency — when they really aren’t. The goal for Day 14 of 31 Days to a Better Bank Balance is to change that.

To do so, we need to identify expenses we should be planning ahead for (but haven’t been) so that they don’t get treated as emergencies.

Here are a few common expenses that are often overlooked until the last minute:

  • Car repairs, registration, and insurance
  • Birthdays, weddings, Christmas, and other gift-giving occasions
  • Eyeglasses and doctor visits
  • Taxes
  • Kid’s activities, school events, and back-to-school clothes
  • Vet bills
  • Home and appliance repairs
  • Tuition and books

Those expenses are all just a part of everyday life, but because they don’t happen every single month like clockwork, we tend to forget about them. They sneak up on us, and we treat them like emergencies.

Think back over the past year and identify any areas like those that apply to your own life. Make a list, and estimate how much you spend on each expense for the year. Then divide that amount by twelve to get the amount you’ll need to begin setting aside each month so that you aren’t regularly beset by those “emergencies”.

What’s on your list?


  • Good post! And a really succinct definition of the problem and solution. Many families and individuals attempt to budget their spending but fail to include line items for these kinds of irregular expenses. As you write, there are very few financial emergencies, only expenses that we fail to plan for and account for in our monthly budget.

    Budgeting is not as easy as it seems when first considered; it is an important life skill that few of us ever learn. Accounting for all your actual costs of living is the first step towards a monthly budget that actually reflects what you are spending every month.

    Tires, for example, are wearing out a little each time we drive and our monthly budget needs to account for that or it is incorrect and cannot serve as the tool it can be. In fact, almost everything we own will someday need to be replaced (just like those tires) and if you do not account for that in your budget, when the bill comes due, it’s an emergency. It is no such thing! What it is is poor planning.

    (and everything else on your list too)

    Once we get our credit cards paid off, I’ll be diverting that money into an account specifically for these “unexpecteds.” So we won’t have to go into debt again when these things pop up.

  • I think that you’ve covered the major surprises that I’ve experienced in my life. We have to be sure and have a plan to deal with these – not just an emergency fund.