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How to Create a Practical Plan for Managing Irregular Expenses

Updated: Mar 30

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:

gif of Barbara Corcoran raising her 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 one of my professional organization dues. In addition to money coaching, I'm also a sign language interpreter.


As such, I am a member of both the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID, Inc.)—membership is a required part of keeping my certification. I love the organization, but I used to want to yell profanities at them every June when they asked for my $250.


Me:

I'd wave my finger at the computer screen... "Now? You want to take my money now?! During this slow time of the year. The audacity!"


The reality was 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 each 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 you pay annually, biannually, or quarterly. I call it my “Irregular Expenses.” Here is my list:

 

January

  1. New Year’s Eve

  2. Cousin’s Bday Dinner Celebration

  3. Car Insurance

February

  1. Taxes

March

  1. Hubby’s Truck Tabs

  2. Hubby’s Bday Celebration

April (nothing)

May

  1. Linus (my kitty) Annual Vet Appt

a grey kitty shaved in a lion's cut sitting on an ottoman

June

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

July

  1. Wedding Ring Insurance

  2. Car Insurance

August

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

September

  1. Carpet Cleaning

October (nothing)

November*

  1. Pontoon Storage

December

  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


screenshot of an excel spreadsheet






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

=SUM(C2:C18)

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


In the cell below, use this formula to get the monthly amount:

=C19/12


Then, each month, I have a line in my budget titled Irregular Expenses. 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!

Melissa Mittelstaedt

Money Coach | Accredited Financial Counselor®

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