Budgeting can be easily mistaken for an easy task. It is just setting a part of your income aside, right?. Well, this might be easier said than done, especially when irregular expenses keep popping up.
Budgeting for irregular expenses can be complicated and frustrating. You might stick to your monthly budget but end up sitting with a calculator, wondering where it went wrong right before the month ends.
The process of budgeting for irregular expenses mostly ends in disaster. This convinces one to quit and pack up one’s budgeting plans all together. However, before you wave the white flag to surrender, this article will provide you ten ways to help avoid disaster while budgeting for irregular expenses.
What are Irregular Expenses?
It is almost impossible to budget for an irregular expense without fully understanding it is. So what are ‘Irregular Expenses’.
Irregular expenses are any infrequent but easy-to-predict bills paid for quarterly, yearly, or at anytime without having a place in a traditional monthly budget, unlike groceries and rent.
Although they are easy to predict, they are easily forgotten until they are due, thus disrupting our budgeting.
Examples of these irregular expenses include;
• Insurance Bills
These bills are paid annually or monthly. Examples are vision insurance, dental insurance, and auto insurance.
• Home/family expenses
These expenses are associated with the upkeep of the home and often catch us by surprise. Examples include home appliance repair or replacements, lawn care, and Home maintenance.
• Education Expenses
Schooling expenses could also come up unexpectedly. For example; Class dues, field trips, school and office supplies, etc.
• Health Expenses
Aside from having a good health insurance, some unplanned health expenses still arise and jeopardize your savings budget, including expenses like; dental work, yearly check UPS, medical bills etc.
• Personal Care Expenses
These are costs that trigger impulse decisions because they deal with what we wear and how we look. However, it is advisable to plan for these expenses in advance. Examples of theses personal care expenses include,; hair and nail care, clothing & accessories, and cosmetics.
How Does One Budget an Irregular Expense?
Budgeting for irregular expenses is usually tasking, but here is a list of five tips that could help answer the question of ‘How to budget for an irregular expense’.
- Identify and list out your irregular expense
- Set a rough estimate for each expenditure.
- Categorize these irregular expenses
- Create an annual required capital for each category
- Create and set aside irregular expense savings accounts and fund them monthly.
• Identify and list out Your Irregular Expenses
The first step in budgeting and irregular expenses is to list out these expenses electronically or on a good old-fashioned paper. You can do this by checking previous bank statements or credit card balances to find the unbudgeted expenses, which could include oil changes on your vehicle, 90-day prescription supplies, or quarterly tax estimates.
Essentially, this list should include any expenses that may the following year.
• Set a rough dollar estimate for each category
The next step is to allocate a fee to each irregular expense listed. Cost may vary for the various item on the list, nevertheless, it would help to estimate how much you would spend on each expense.
• Categorize these Irregular Expenses
These groups should consist of a variety of similar irregular expenses
Education-(School supplies, Tuition bills)
Health-(medical bills, Glasses, check-ups)
Recreation expenses-(fine dining events, Season tickets, magazine subscription)
• Create an Annual Dollar Amount for the Total of Each Category
Now, this part can be tricky but these two steps can help simplify the process.
Create an Annual dollar amount from the total of each category
Here’s an example: If you spend $100 quarterly on tuition fees, alongside paying $50 semi-annually for school supplies, you will need to add $700 to your education fund as an annual payment to cover the expense
Add up the total amount from all categories to get the full amount from all categories. This is done to get the total annual dollar amount for your list of irregular expenses, then divide this amount by 12. This is done to get the amount you would incorporate into your monthly budget.
Here’s a Tip;
A better strategy would be to divide the total amount by ten
Why?, the divide by ten strategy helps solve situations by building a buffer fairly quickly that prevents a mishap in your budgeting.
• Create an Irregular Expense Saving Account
Creating a separate high-interest saving account for monthly funding with the estimate of your irregular expense helps you stay organized & builds better accountability towards budgeting for an irregular expense to avoid surprises when the bills arrive.
As your irregular expenses arrive, you can pay them from the savings account to lighten the burden of irregular expenses.
Here’s a Tip;
Setting up an automated payment process for saving your irregular expense is guaranteed to lighten more burden. This process automatically pays a small amount of money into your separate savings account monthly or from every pay check, making it hard to miss the payment.
What are the Best Ways to Reduce Expenses?
Budgeting for irregular but predictable expenses means knowing what you spend & how much you spend on this expense, is a good way to reduce these expense. However, disasters are quick to happen when budgeting for an irregular expense.
Here are Ten ways to avoid disaster budgeting irregular expenses
- Curate an Extensive List of Your Irregular Expenses A secure way to reduce expenses is to have an extensive list of your irregular expense to keep track of your expense & ensure that no expense is forgotten while budgeting for your monthly bills. Regardless, of how trivial we might think these expenses are, it is essential to calculate these irregular expenses in a detailed format. Ensure to cross-check the list on a daily basis for slip-throughs and be sure to include expenses that may not have been included initially.
This creates order in our budgeting system
- Reinforce your Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is an emergency cash reserve stored in a separate savings account to ease the burden of an unanticipated monetary crisis.
Ideally, having an emergency fund means you have enough money to cushion yourself in the event of a financial mishap because you should be able to afford 3-6 months’ worth of your living expenses. However, the existence of this emergency fund doesn’t make your irregular expenses disappear but can help save your budget, protect your assets and avoid unnecessary financial struggles.
- Pay Off Your Debt
Another significant way to lessen your expenses is by paying off your debt. Making monthly payments for your outstanding loans or credit card balance creates a lesser financial margin. This results in having more complex accountability for your irregular expense which may lead to a disaster budgeting.
Here’s An Example
You make a monthly payment of $700 for your consumer debt, Which totals $8400 of your annual savings that are being sacrificed.
This amount can be used to find your irregular savings account or boost your investments or savings.
Settling your consumer debt releases you from the financial obligations associated with it. This creates more room in your budget & improves financial stability as well.
- Prioritize Your Spending For More Budgeting
Another way to reduce the strain of budgeting for irregular expenses is to make some spending adjustments to free up more cash for budgeting.
The first step in making these adjustments is to carefully make an overview of each category to see where you can easily pull money from without causing any drastic change to your financial performance/margin.
Simply put, you should create a list of priorities in order of importance for all categories. For example; when one has to make budgeting adjustments to pay for an irregular expense, the least essential category is shortened and then used to cover for the expense.
However, If the category doesn’t cover the expense, the next step would be to move in increasing order of the list. This ensures that you don’t dip into other budget categories.
- Update your Budget Frequently
One of the best ways to reduce your expense & keep your budget in check is by revising your budget daily. This might sound quite tasking, but it creates a much easier budgeting process. When your budget is updated daily, it gives a refreshed overview of your financial situation.
Spending 2 to 3 minutes updating your budget helps create a habit of this activity. In addition, it helps you stay on track all through the month and let’s you know how much money each budget category has left to spend before the limit is reached. Adjustments can then be made to specific areas where you might be overspending.
- Make Use of the “One Account” Rule
The ‘debit card-only’ rule is an effective way to keep you on your toes with your spending expenses. Why is this system effective?, this is because the money comes from one’s checking account whenever money is spent. This helps one to track his/her spending from their account.
This lessens the burden of budgeting and simplifies the process. It provides absolute financial clarity & accuracy. Though this might be pretty intense for some people, it reduces the chances of irregular expense going unnoticed, limits one’s spending and increases saving.
- Include A Miscellaneous Category in Your Budget
Having a miscellaneous category in your budget handles any non-recurring expense that may come up unexpectedly. We always encounter these non-recurring expenses no matter how consistent our spending is. It might be a home appliance repair, a health insurance bill, or that field trip your child desperately wants to go for.
The miscellaneous category creates a safety net for you to fall on when these expenses arrive, so you won’t need to take out of your other budget categories to offset these expenses.
What to consider when budgeting this miscellaneous expense?
The first thing when setting a percentage for this category is the consistency of your monthly expenses and the accuracy of your budget. Afterward, you should allocate between 1-5% of your monthly budget into the category. For example; if you have your budgeting on lockdown alongside consistent monthly spending, you can allocate 1% of your monthly income to this miscellaneous budget.
However, if you are still new to the budgeting plan and trying to find a balance in your spending, then it is best to allocate about 5% of your monthly income to the miscellaneous category.
Regardless, you should think carefully about your options and make the best financial decision.
- Simplify your financial life with Automatic payments
Simplify your financial struggles with irregular expenses by setting up an Automated payment process for your bills. It is recommended to set up this automated payment process for bills that are paid every month (i.e., Fixed, monthly expenses). Irregular expenses do not have a fixed payment interval; hence should be paid manually.
The automated payment process eliminates financial expense surprises and makes budgeting for irregular expenses much simpler.
- Budgeting with your spouse
Making budgeting plans for married couples comes with its challenge, however, it proves effective when you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to budgeting. By forming a team with your partner when budgeting, it becomes easier to plan every monthly budget, make budgeting decisions and work toward the financial goal equally set.
You and your partner can hold meetings where you discuss ideas to improve your financial situation, set up regular budget check-ins, and create weekly assessments to monitor progress.
Also, setting financial priorities can help provide accountability and clarity.
- Pay Yourself First
Spending before saving is an impulsive decision we most times take. This mistake puts achieving our financial goals at risk. Savings should be our priority to meet our monthly savings goal and achieve budgeting success. Simply put, an habit of saving and investing should be created before commencing payment of bills and expenses. In addition, money left after settling expenses should also be saved.
How does This Tip help with budgeting your irregular expense?
Well, extra money is being allocated into your miscellaneous category, preventing any irregular expense surprises. However, if no irregular expense occurred during that month, the money can be transferred into your savings account.
This is one of the best ways to ensure you budget effectively for irregular expenses.
Budgeting for irregular expenses is one of the most common financial difficulties faced while budgeting, however with these tips, budgeting for irregular expenses does not have to be complicated or overwhelming. They are guaranteed to reduce the workload of irregular expenses and keep your budget in line.
People Also Ask
• What are the four types of expenses?
- Variable expenses: These are expenses that vary monthly (Electricity, groceries)
- Fixed expenses: These are expenses that remain fixed monthly(example; rent, vehicle payment).
- Irregular expenses: These are non-recurring expenses (examples: water bills, Tuition payments).
- Discretionary expenses: These are desirable expenses(examples; personal gifts, entertainment )
• How do you manage your daily expenses?
Here are five ways to help you take charge of your daily expense
- Record your daily expense
- Assess your weekly spending
- Separate your expenses from other costs
- Stay consistent with your expense categories
- Keep a record of your spending receipts.
• What are the six steps to planning a budget?
These are six steps to take when planning a budget
- Determine your expense
- Set goals by determining an amount for savings
- Choose a budget format and lay a plan
- Pay yourself first
- Start your plan.
- Track your progress. FAQ
• How can students reduce their expenses?
An effective way for students to reduce their expenses is by eliminating unnecessary routine purchases.
• What are ten examples of expenses?
Rent, groceries, insurance rates, vehicle maintenance, electricity bill, water bill, house maintenance bill, birthday gifts, medical bills, and personal care.