Whether it’s a wedding, a dream vacation, a down payment on a home, or significant repairs to your car or house, it can be tricky to build these major one-time expenses into your ongoing budget.
Charging these expenses to your credit card isn’t an option (at least, it’s not a very good one). Instead, try these strategies that will help you manage one-time costs without throwing off your everyday budget.
Handling Small, Infrequent One-Time Expenses
You’re probably not going on vacation or buying a new living room couch every other week. These are one-time expenses you’ll want to be able to afford every now and then, but they bring large enough price tags that you can’t exactly fit them into your typical spending for the month.
At the same time, it always seems like there’s some new expense coming up on the horizon. If it isn’t a new couch, it’s a new transmission for your car or a new furnace. To be able to afford these expenses, try to set aside extra money from your paychecks each month and put those funds in a separate account that is meant for short-term savings goals.
Remind yourself that the more you save each month, the sooner you’ll be able to take that vacation or plop down on that new sectional. To make this process easier, try setting up an automatic contribution to a separate savings account so that you can save without thinking about it.
If the one-time expense you’re facing has a deadline attached to it—maybe your sister is getting married in San Diego next summer, and you’ve got to book your travel plans by mid-spring—you may have to take a more dedicated approach to saving by cutting back on expenses elsewhere. Figure out your timetable and how much you need to save, and break down the amount on a weekly or monthly basis to make the number feel more achievable.
Making a Plan for the Big Expenses in Life
When you’ve got big expenses to pay for, you likely need to make short-term sacrifices with the bigger picture in mind. Maybe you’re saving up for graduate school, your wedding and/or honeymoon, or a down payment on a home. These are major expenses that tend to require patience and long-term saving, and you might need to significantly adjust your spending habits to meet your savings goal faster.
Cost-cutting moves could include downsizing your current living space, cutting back on restaurant and entertainment spending, postponing vacations, or sticking with your trusty, well-loved car instead of upgrading to a brand-new one. Serious bills call for serious money management maneuvers to free up money to afford those big-ticket costs.
It can be hard work reaching these goals, but once you succeed, you’ll likely realize it was worth the sacrifice!
Building a Buffer for Surprise Bills
In some instances, such as with unexpected big expenses, you may not have the time to create a savings plan. That’s why it’s important to start saving in advance of the inevitable “rainy day.”
A fender bender, an unexpected trip to the doctor, a leaky roof, a faulty water heater ... these events can quickly take a chunk out of your budget. Setting up an emergency fund to cover these unforeseen costs is your best strategy for paying off these one-time expenses without having to reorganize your finances.
More importantly, this buffer will help you take unexpected expenses in stride and save you from having to dip into your savings funds for other long-term goals.
These strategies will help you make sure you are financially prepared for anything that comes up, whether it’s paying for an exciting life milestone or covering an unexpected expense. Your future self will thank you!