More and more people are starting to realize the importance of saving for retirement as well as for down payments on a new home, vacations and even the occasional “treat” for themselves, but they still miss the mark on unexpected expenses.
For example, a recently released survey from American Express shows that almost half of Americans, in the last 12 months, have been hit with an unforeseen expense that they could have planned for quite easily. These “unexpected” expenses are outlined below, as well as some suggestions on how to plan for them. Enjoy.
Unforeseen expense #1: Healthcare. Many people, especially those who have health insurance but are lucky enough to not use it very often, are surprised and dismayed by how much out-of-pocket expenses they pay even beyond their regular co-pays. Simply put, it’s extremely important to have money set aside for unexpected health problems and, if you have a $5000 deductible (for example), it’s a great idea to have $5000 in a special savings account to pay that deductible should you or someone in your family fall ill.
Unforeseen expense #2: Home repairs. If you own your own home you own a number of different systems including your HVAC. You also own something that needs constant, sometimes large, repairs, some of which can be quite costly. Experts say that having $1000-$5000 in an emergency home account is a very smart idea so that, if you suddenly have a bad leak in your roof, your washing machine goes belly up for your furnace craps out on you, you won’t be financially strapped trying to get them repaired and/or replaced.
Unforeseen expense #3: Education expenses. Tuition is definitely the most expensive part of sending your child to college, but many parents overlook things like computers, books, room and board, supplies and so forth that can also cost a pretty penny. In fact, even before your children make it to college, there are plenty of education expenses that you will have to pay for, approximately $670 on average per year. Things like uniforms, sports equipment and so forth are, unfortunately, not being covered by public schools and definitely not by private. As your children get older and bigger, these expenses tend to go up as well. Having a few thousand dollars set aside to cover them would be a fine idea.
Unforeseen expense #4: Insurance. Most of the time your insurance payments stay the same over many years but, if you make a claim on your health, automobile or home insurance, there’s a very good chance that your rates will go up. Sometimes these rate increases are quite high and catch consumers off-guard. Having a little extra money on the side to cover these increased insurance costs, even if it’s only for a few months or a couple of years, will help to keep your finances stable.
Of course that’s a lot of emergency accounts and, if you want to make things a bit simpler, you would do well to simply have 1 larger emergency account to handle any surprise expenses, emergencies or unforeseen charges that you might face over the years. Experts say that you should have enough set aside to cover 6 to 12 months’ worth of expenses if you suddenly had no income coming in at all.
If you can shoot for that number, and keep your emergency account funded, unforeseen expenses might surprise you but they won’t destroy you financially.