How to Budget for Unexpected Expenses

February 12, 2014

This winter has been brutal. Extremely brutal. And I’m not just talking about the extreme cold, but the record snowfall as well. Let’s just say that I’ve spent more time indoors in the last 2 months, than I have in all of 2012-2013 combined.

The problem with trying to avoid going outside, and trying to stay huddled indoors is the little things seem like mountains when you have to deal with them in the dead of winter.

I’m not sure about you, but the winter not only takes a toll on us, but it seems that our properties take a hit as well. And there is nothing we can do but watch the unexpected expenses add up.

I know I’m not the only one who had to deal with busted pipes this winter. The kicker? It was on the one of the coldest nights of the year. The bill to get the repaired was significantly higher than I expected, but I would charge more if I had to work in the cold to fix a broken pipe. Luckily I had a house emergency fund set aside for things like this. If you don’t have a fund already, I really recommend starting one. It doesn’t have to a lot in it, but it saves you from crying with situations like that come up.

Note: this is different than having a house improvement fund for things like doors and windows.

The other thing that I had to deal with was a power bill that was 3 times my normal rate. That seems to be the normal right now, and I can’t really cry fowl, but there are tools like Powershop that can help monitor our power usage, and helps with the bill shock. I mean, it’s not like I can avoid heating my home, and there are only so many blankets and sweaters I can wear at once.

The rule applies to this as it would for the AC bill in the summer. It’s better to plan for it, than having to put it on the credit card and get stressed about having to pay that later.

So what about you, how do you deal with unexpected expenses?


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  • Michelle February 12, 2014 at 11:25 am

    This winter has been so cold and I am not liking it at all! For some reason, our heat bill actually went down. I received the bill yesterday and I looked it over like 10 times because it makes no sense. But I am of course fine with a cheaper bill! 🙂

    • Marissa February 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      What? Really? That’s amazing.

  • Lindsey@ Sense & Sensibility February 12, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I couldn’t agree more about this winter being really hard. We’ve had record snowfalls and temperatures that are over the place. Snow falls, it melts, and then it freezes into an impenetrable sheet of slippery death. I’ve started saving an emergency fund for just these kinds of situations but you’re right, it’s hard to keep up with the power and electricity bills. I’m going to check out that Powershop app you mentioned. Thx.

    • Marissa February 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      Let me know your thoughts!

  • myownadvisor February 12, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Uh, expected expenses. They suck. We keep $5k for unexpected stuff. I hope we rarely have to use it.

    Sorry to hear about your troubles Marissa. 🙁


    • Marissa February 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Lesson learned. Plus that had to replaced at some point.

  • Brick By Brick Investing February 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    We have a fund for unexpected expenses.

    • Marissa February 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Good to hear!

  • ourbigfatwallet February 13, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Sorry to hear about your piping issues. We have a small emergency fund set aside for things if/when they do come up

    • Marissa February 17, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      It’s a great idea to have one!