Even after you've set your budget for the New Year, chances are you might overlook certain expenses: you know, the busted transmissions and extra fees that creep up, and before you realize it, you're out hundreds of dollars. While some experts say you should have nine months to a year of income saved for emergencies, we know that's not always possible.
But you can still prepare by putting aside money each month for these incidents. Soon you'll end up with a flexible spending plan that will withstand even these unexpected expenses.
- Gifts: If you're someone with a large extended family or big group of friends, it can feel like it's someone's birthday every other week. Curb costs by suggesting that everyone pitch in for one nice present.
- Electronic repairs: A hard drive crashing or a phone screen cracking is never fun. But the way we rely on our electronics, we don't hesitate to shell out whatever it takes to get the problem fixed. Consider checking out smaller mom-and-pop shops before major retailers for repairs and seeing if they're worth the savings.
- Health-related bills: There are major medical costs, like emergency room visits, and other ones, like filling prescriptions. Either way, they're not cheap, but sticking to routine checkups and detecting problems early on will save you money in the long run.
- Home and car repairs: New brakes and tires, roof patch work: it all adds up. If you own an older model or live in a fixer-upper, think about creating a budget just for this category.
- Last-minute trips: If a family member in another state falls sick and you must visit, prepare as much as you can in the little time you have by investing in sites and apps that will help you save on last-minute trips.
- Fees: Hidden fees, like those for ATM usage or free trial memberships, are always a pain. Learn how to avoid them so you're never surprised by a bill statement again.
- Out-of-town visitors: Even if you choose not to take a trip, someone might come to visit, and that means showing them a good time. Before they arrive, look up free things to do wherever you live so you don't drain your wallet.
- Weddings and baby showers: When you think of all the prewedding and prebaby festivities (let alone the gifts and traveling on the day your friend gets hitched or delivers), these special occasions can break the bank more than you'd like. Know that it's OK to pass on the third baby shower or engagement party being thrown by your friend's second cousin.
- Parking and traffic tickets: One of life's biggest bummers has got to be getting to your car to find a pricey ticket or getting pulled over. The good thing is this one can easily be avoided by driving (and parking) responsibly.
- Lost items: If you've ever misplaced a special necklace, chances are you wanted to replace it right away. Avoid buying the same thing twice by having a designated spot for these prized items or insuring your jewelry.
- Job loss: We're sure no one wants to unexpectedly be out of work. But in this economy (no matter how much better it's getting), it's best to have an emergency fund for this very purpose to help you get back on the job hunt.
- Expensive group dinners: There's nothing worse than going out with a bunch of friends for a special occasion and having to split the check evenly when all you ordered was a salad. Make sure everyone agrees before the bill comes to pay for what you each order so you have control over how much you spend.