How To Deal With 10 Common Unexpected Expenses

Monkey Business Images /

It may seem counterintuitive to plan for unexpected expenses, because then, well, they are expected. However, saving money or having an emergency fund for all the things that could happen is really smart for when they do. As sometimes it can even be a struggle to pay your regular bills, budgeting for unexpected expenses in the short term can save you time, money and stress in the long run.

10 Common Unexpected Expenses

Here is a look at 10 common unexpected expenses that you should be prepared for.

  1. Car expenses
  2. Rent or bill increases
  3. Medical expenses
  4. Home repairs
  5. School expenses
  6. Job loss
  7. Funeral expenses
  8. Pet medical emergencies
  9. Natural disasters
  10. Seasonal expenses

1. Car Expenses 

Your automobile requires constant financing from gas to insurance. You expect to pay for these, but then there are the other unforeseen issues which can range from fender benders to replacing batteries. As cars are a necessity in your daily life, going without one is not typically an option.

Savings Tip

Try an existing savings challenge or make up your own that is auto-expense-specific. For example, every time you get gas, move $10 from your checking into a separate savings account you have set up just for your car. If you get gas twice a week you would have $1,040 at the end of the year.

Make Your Money Work for You

2. Rent or Bill Increases 

You have your monthly budget finely tuned when all of a sudden your rent goes up or your electric bill goes sky high. These unexpected expenses can wreak havoc on your bank account and send you into the red more quickly than you thought possible.

Savings Tip

With these reoccurring and often automated bills, sometimes you forget you may have some wiggle room. If a bill goes up unexpectedly you can call a representative from the company and often be able to negotiate back down to what you were paying.

3. Medical Expenses 

There’s no way around it, medical bills are expensive even if you have health insurance. If you are in an accident and require a hospital stay, or develop a chronic condition where you now have the monthly expense of prescription medications, you’re going to need to budget a bit.

Savings Tip

Medical expenses will always happen throughout the year so including them in your unexpected costs file is a good first step. One trick of budgeting is to break down your budget into percentages as in the 50/30/20 rule. This is where you save 20% of your income every month which leaves 50% for needs and 30% of your income for discretionary spending. 

Make Your Money Work for You

4. Home Repairs 

One of the top items in the hierarchy of needs is shelter. So not only do you need to factor in home maintenance but unexpected home repairs as well. This can mean fixing or replacing anything that goes wrong with the plumbing, electrical or appliances around your home.

Savings Tip

For big-ticket items, like household appliances, having some money stored away is helpful. One fun way to do so is the 100 envelope challenge which is where you can save over $5,000 in 100 days. Simply get 100 empty envelopes and label them one to 100. Then, for 100 days, randomly choose an envelope and whatever number is on the front of the envelope you chose, put that amount of money inside and watch your savings stack up.

5. School Expenses 

If you have kids in school then you know there is a never-ending list of things you need to put money into. Whether it’s field trips, athletic equipment or teachers’ gifts, you need to be prepared with some cash on hand as these expenses don’t typically take credit cards. 

Savings Tip

You and your kids could try the 52-week challenge. The entire family can start this savings challenge for the whole school year by saving just $1 on your first week. Increase the amount of money you save each week by $1, so on the second week, you’ll save $2, then $3 and continue to the final week of the year where you’ll add $52 to your savings. In the end, you will have $1,378 saved to go to school activities and expenses for next year.

Make Your Money Work for You

6. Job Loss 

If you lose your job and source of income it can be a scary prospect to think of how you will pay your bills without taking out personal loans. Or you are faced with wracking up interest rates on your overdue credit card which can be a vicious cycle of debt and plummeting credit score. 

Savings Tip

Prepare for the worst but hope for the best, so when you do have money coming in, start an emergency fund or savings account. You can even set up automated savings where funds are automatically transferred to this emergency account every paycheck. This way, if you do lose your job you’ll have a bit of padding to get you until you’re employed again. 

7. Funeral Expenses 

The death of a friend or loved one is one of the worse things you can go through. On top of the mourning, there are also many added unexpected expenses that can come along with it. For example, the funeral is in another state and you have to cover a $400 plane ticket to get there, or you are next of kin and need to pay for the funeral itself. 

Savings Tip

Have a separate spending and savings account. You can just think of this separate savings account as an account you don’t touch unless you absolutely need to, and add money to it on a weekly or monthly basis.

Make Your Money Work for You

8. Pet Medical Emergencies 

Fur children are just as much a part of the family as any person so when they have a medical emergency you’ll do whatever it takes to pay for them. These vet and medical bills can be exorbitant, especially when most pets aren’t insured. 

Savings Tip

Little savings here and there can go a long way to building a fund for your pet should they need it. For example, canceling unused prescriptions or switching to generic brands can save you lots of money per month. Take those extra savings and start a savings account for your pet.

9. Natural Disasters 

Tornados, hurricanes, blizzards or floods are all just samples of what Mother Nature can throw at you depending on her mood. Insurance aside, if you do go through a natural disaster there are many things to fix or replace.

Savings Tip

Be thrifty when shopping for new household items. You can save hundreds of dollars by going to a secondhand store or vintage shop when replacing everything from clothing to home decor. 

10. Seasonal Expenses

Depending on what climate you live in seasonal expenses can vary. For instance, if you live in Texas, your air conditioning bill may spike during the summer months, whereas if you live in Minnesota, you may need some extra help and have to hire someone to shovel your drive during the winter months.

Make Your Money Work for You

Savings Tip

Try the 26-week challenge for the season. For example, start by saving $3 on week one, then add $3 per week to your savings goal. That’s $6 in week two, $9 in week three and so on until you reach 26 weeks where you will have saved $1,053.

Final Take To GO 

Life seems to march on, whether you plan for the unexpected or not. However, with a little foresight and a bit of budgeting, you can take some of the stressful shocks out of surprise expenses. 


Here are answers to frequently asked questions about unexpected expenses.
  • What are the four types of expenses?
    • Though there are many types of expenses, the main four types include fixed, recurring, non-recurring and unexpected.
  • What are unexpected expenses to budget for?
    • Here are some examples of common unexpected expenses you should budget for:
      • Car expenses
      • Rent or bill increases
      • Medical expenses
      • Home repairs
      • School expenses
  • What are some examples of unexpected expenses?
    • Below are some examples of unexpected expenses:
      • Job loss
      • Funeral expenses
      • Pet medical emergencies
      • Natural disasters
      • Seasonal expenses
Make Your Money Work for You

Make Your Money Work for You

About the Author

Caitlyn Moorhead has written content for a variety of businesses and publications. After graduating from Central Michigan University cum laude, she moved to New York City where she wrote columns, articles and plays for several years before relocating to Austin, Texas in the fall of 2020.
Learn More


See Today's Best
Banking Offers