48 Unexpected Expenses that will Bust Your Budget (and how to prepare for them)

Don’t let unexpected expenses bust your budget. Inside, an experienced financial coach shows you what unexpected expenses really are and helps you prepare, starting with this list of 48 examples to avoid.

Shortly after my husband left for a guy’s mountain biking day, he arrived back home with a broken arm. Six hundred dollars later, we had a new monthly payment.

Not long after, a friend dropped by with an invitation for her daughter’s birthday party and now I needed a gift.

These were good things: healthcare, gifts for loved ones, but each unforeseen expense took us further away from our goal of paying off debt.

Just when I thought I had our budget under control, it seemed another unexpected expense would jump out and surprise me, leaving me feeling frustrated.

How to Plan for Unexpected Expenses

Along the way I kept track of all the different unexpected expenses, so I could plan ahead and include them in my budget.

I hope this list will save you some of the frustration that comes along with going over budget due to unexpected expenses! Many of these are things you pay only once a year, or every few years, or things that are somewhat unpredictable.

You might simply forget about them, or it may be hard to predict the cost. But that’s still no reason to leave them out of your budget.

Include this list of unexpected expenses in your budget this month.

48 Unexpected Expenses

Did you make a budget this month? I hope so! Here are 48 unexpected expenses you might have forgotten.

  1. Car Registration
  2. Income Taxes
  3. Drivers License or ID card renewal
  4. Roadside assistance membership
  5. Tires
  6. Oil Changes
  7. Car Repairs and Maintenance, eg. brakes, alignment
  8. Professional Licenses and Memberships not reimbursed by work
  9. Fines, eg. Library fines, speeding tickets
  10. Electronics Replacement, eg. computers, phones, cameras
  11. Printer Cartridges and paper
  12. Gifts, eg. weddings, birthdays, baby showers and Christmas
  13. Hospitality, eg. guests visiting, throwing a party, food
  14. Hosting, eg. baby shower, etc.
  15. Shipping costs
  16. Attending potlucks or get-togethers where you need to bring food
  17. Home repairs and maintenance
  18. Furnace filters
  19. Pest Control
  20. Termite Inspection
  21. Utilities Paid Annually
  22. Safety Deposit Box
  23. Post Office Box
  24. Household supplies, eg. cleaning supplies
  25. Gardening expenses, eg. soil, seeds, fencing
  26. Lawn expenses, eg. gas for mower, mower replacement
  27. Furniture and appliance replacement
  28. Seasonal yard maintenance or snow removal
  29. Travel, not just for vacation but also for holidays, weddings, births, and funerals
  30. Medical, dental, and vision expenses
  31. Haircuts
  32. Pet food
  33. Flea treatment
  34. Veterinary care
  35. Pet License
  36. School Supplies
  37. School Pictures
  38. Yearbook
  39. School Uniforms
  40. Sports and extracurricular equipment and dues
  41. Teacher and Coach gifts
  42. Field trip fees
  43. Fundraisers
  44. Seasonal Gear, eg. coats, snow pants, hats, boots, etc.
  45. Gifts for when your kids attend their friends’ birthdays
  46. Costco and Amazon Prime Membership
  47. Tax Preparation (software or accountant)
  48. Taxes on extra income from work from home income or interest earned
  49. Property Taxes

How to Pay for Unexpected Expenses

That kid birthday party we were invited to? Well, we ended up gifting something that we already had at home to stop us from going over budget.

Then each month from then on, we saved a bit toward our gifts budget, so we’d always be ready. Healthcare, too.

You don’t want to rely on your emergency fund as a catch-all for these unexpected expenses because most aren’t emergencies. If you do you’ll soon find yourself without an emergency fund.

Instead, set aside a small amount in your monthly budget for each of these expenses, and you’ll have no added stress when any of them pop up. (Here’s how I organize these non-monthly budget expenses.)

Planning for these unexpected expenses now will help you budget successfully and achieve your financial goals faster.

What budget items have you forgotten in the past? Share your advice in the comments!

shannon Clark, LIFE & FINANCIAL Coach

As a mom, I know what it's like to feel exhausted, overwhelmed by life, and inadequate to meet my children's needs. But I also know you don't have to stay there.

As an author and coach, I've had the joy of encouraging more than 9.1 million moms to find forward motion with their faith, family, and finances — without the frenzy.

Will you be next?

38 thoughts on “48 Unexpected Expenses that will Bust Your Budget (and how to prepare for them)”

  1. Fortunately for us medical/dental/vision expenses are covered by our FSA which is money we never see in our income. Other items on this list I have found myself trying to think of all the things that could come up that I have forgotten. Like gas for the mower which will increase the gas budget for the cutting season. The one thing I have been really thinking about is car maintenance (i.e. tires and front end alignment/oil changes and tune-ups) so don’t forget things like that because that can be costly.

  2. Having recently moved from a sub-tropical climate to the Midwest, seasonal gear is a big one for us. With four kids, buying heavy coats, snow pants, gloves, hats, snow boots, rain boots, etc. for each of us has gotten expensive. We ended up with some hand-me-downs to get us started, and some of this stuff can be worn several years and by more than one kid, but as long as we are living here, there will be a need to budget in some of these purchases each fall for each of us.

  3. I wanted to add that most schools now require computer access at home. With that comes paper, printer ink and last but not least the cost of the computer, software, and associated maintenance.

    • The schools do not require it yet, they just assume everyone has access at home. Do remember that scheduled trips to ur local library can help. There are also local organizations that assist with computers in family home that have school aged kids. They are low cost and affordable for all budgets. There are ways to minimise ur budget. Thank outside the box “ur home.”

  4. This is such a great list! Some things that are not quite emergencies but often forgotten because they are unexpected: hosting a party; medical prescriptions, vitamin supplements, or natural remedies for “surprise” illnesses throughout the year; extracurricular activities for the kids; it never fails that even with your best efforts you will have to pay a fine at some point in the year even if it’s just an overdue book (the worst is a speeding ticket when you are going 35mph at 10pm at night!) It happens.

  5. Kids sports equipment and any dues they have to pay. I just spent a small fortune upgrading a glove, bat and getting new pants.

  6. Post office box fee
    Dog license
    Furnace air filters
    Garden needs (fencing, seeds, soil testing and amendments)

    Nothing throws me off track quite like my sinking fund items throughout the year.

  7. Gifts for children’s birthday party’s (when my children are invited), school trips, contributions to teacher and sports coach gifts, extra food shopping when the in laws come to stay (always a lot more!)

  8. Great list!

    I’d add – quarterly pest control, annual termite inspection, annual safety deposit box fee, home owner association dues, annual furnace and air conditioning tune-ups…

  9. I have a calendar print out from a budgeting website. I enter any item that is a yearly expense and mark the month it is due. It is helpful to see the year in advance snd I can budget accordingly.

  10. I didn’t even think of more than half of these. Thank you! Also I sent an email to you last weekend with questions about your online course and a vegan/whole foods diet.

  11. Craft supplies, seasonal pharmacy items like sunscreen, bug spray, allergy meds, new swimsuits, goggles and towels for the kids. Also, unexpected invites to the water parks, amusement parks and ice cream outings during the summer.


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