what to do with annual expenses

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Let’s play a little game of never have I ever. Have you played this game before? It’s a get to know each other type of game. Player one starts with a statement.

Never have I ever... had an expense that I am used to seeing every year still come up and bite me in the ass when it came due.

If you have had this happen, hand up.

Me: Raising my hand.

Everyone laughs and now you know a little something about each other. Yay! Wasn’t that fun? It wasn’t fun for me. It was my life story.

My prime example is my professional organization dues. I am a proud member of both the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID, Inc.) and the Minnesota RID (MRID). As a sign language interpreter, being a member of these organizations is an important part of my world. However, I used to want to yell profanities at them every June when they asked for my collective $215. Now. You want to take my money now?! During this slow time of the year. The audacity!

The reality is, I needed to turn the waving finger around and point it at me. I could only be irritated with myself.

How does that happen? How does an expense, that I “know about” still come out of nowhere?!

Here’s how: I was only focused on the expenses that had to be taken care of this month - I wasn’t seeing the whole picture. It would be like trying to bake a cake but you only get enough ingredients for one piece. (Maybe that was a bad example because cake never makes you cranky, but you get the point.)

Here is how to fix it!

Create a list of expenses that you pay for annually, biannually, or quarterly. I call it my “Recurring Items”. Here is my list:


  1. New Year’s Eve

  2. Cousin’s Bday Dinner Celebration

  3. Car Insurance


  1. Taxes


  1. Hubby’s Truck Tabs

  2. Hubby’s Bday Celebration

April (nothing)


  1. Linus (my kitty) Annual Vet Appt


  1. Membership Dues (RID, MRID, Wisc License)


  1. Wedding Ring Insurance

  2. Car Insurance


  1. My Bday Celebration (I’m big into birthdays… can’t help it. I LOVE THEM!)


  1. Carpet Cleaning

October (nothing)


  1. Pontoon Storage


  1. Holiday Travel

  2. My Truck Tabs

*You may be wondering… where do I plan for holiday gifts?

Hold tight, that will come in another post. Stay tuned!

I put all those items into an Excel spreadsheet:

Cell A1 type Month

Cell B1 type Recurring Item

Cell C1 type Amount

Row 1: Type the months down the row

At the bottom of Column C, I add all those up using this formula:


Note: your second number in that formula may or may not be C18, depending on how many items you've added to your list

The cell below that I use this formula to get my monthly amount:


Then, each month I have a line in my budget titled Recurring Items. That amount is transferred to a savings account and can be utilized as needed.

Voilà! Now I know how much money I need to set aside each month to pay for those items that pop up. Even though I love surprises, these were surprises that needed to be squashed, and now they are. This process was a game-changer for me. I hope it can be for you too!

Here's to you!


#budgeting #budgetingtips #freelancing

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