How to Budget for Unexpected and Infrequent Expenses


Let’s talk about all those unexpected and infrequent expenses. You know the random flat tire right before payday. The impromptu flight home you need to get home. The emergency surgery your beloved pet needs. Or let us not forget the inevitable year of weddings.

I am sure you have your own list of unexpected expenses that have thrown your spending out of control, depleted your savings or put you into debt.

Today I want to talk about preparing for them.

When I’m working with clients, I always listen for expenses that catch them off-guard or leave them spinning their wheels. Because even if you learn to plan for day-to-day expenses like groceries, rent, and car payments, you also need to learn to manage infrequent or unexpected expenses like car maintenance, annual membership fees, gifts, or new glasses.

Let’s take a closer look at owning a car, for example, and the expected and unexpected expenses involved there. You probably set money aside for your car payment and gas. But do you plan for the other expenses that occur less frequently or do you just try and find the money for oil changes, car registration and new tires when the time comes?

We all know “finding” money isn’t a sustainable solution. Fortunately, I have one that will help you prepare for unexpected and infrequent expenses.

It may be simple but, whether it’s a car or your Amazon Prime membership, you can start preparing for unexpected expenses by creating a sinking fund in your budget for things that have caught you by surprise in the past.

So, for the example above you could create a line item for oil changes and rotations, car registration, miscellaneous car repairs, and new tires in your budget. The next step would be determining how much money you want to save each month for those expenses by either looking at how much you spent in the last year or projecting how much you plan to spend in the upcoming year.

Which may look something like this.

January February March April May June

Oil Change Oil Change

$65 & Tire Rotation


July August September October November December

Oil Change New Tires Car Registration Oil Change

$65 $500 $180 & Tire Rotation


This is a helpful way to plan for so-called unexpected expenses because, most times, our unexpected expenses are really just expenses we failed to plan for.

Once you’ve mapped out your expenses, you can add up the total cost for the year and divide that amount by twelve so you know exactly how much to set aside each month in your sinking fund.

And here is the magic that will happen in your budget!

Auto Maintenance

Category Monthly Savings

Oil Changes and Rotations $30

New Tires $42

Miscellaneous Repairs $50

Annual Car Registration $15

Now, you’ve shifted from your spending being thrown out of control from infrequent and unexpected expenses for your car to purposefully planning for these expenses so that you have the money set aside when the time comes.

This is a simple shift you can take with any area of your budget to prepare for unexpected expenses and alleviate the overwhelm when an unexpected expense comes your way. To get started, in your money date this week, set aside 10 minutes to dig deeper into where you can start to better prepare for unexpected or infrequent expenses so you’re prepared when the expense comes your way.

I recommend starting with your annual subscriptions, travel, auto maintenance, self-care, clothing, or special occasions (e.g. birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, weddings). You do not need to tackle them all this week, just chose one.

Email me at and let me know the category you are going to dig into this week.

All the best,


P.S. If you want to get stop spinning your wheels and gain clarity and confidence with your money once and for all I’ve got an opening for a complimentary call and it is yours! Schedule your call today.

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