Plan for Irregular Expenses

Last week we looked at the bills we pay monthly – both auto-pay and manually. I hope you are feeling good and accomplished now that you have all that done.   The week before that, we set up our budget categories and looked into budgeting software options.  If you are just joining me – Welcome!  …and be sure to go back and check out those posts as well.


This week – we will plan for irregular expenses.  Make a list of all the unexpected or irregular expenses you could run into throughout the year.

Turns out Christmas is December 25th every, single year.

You can download the FREE Irregular Expenses Worksheet here.

Estimate how much you spend on Christmas gifts.  Divide that by 12 and put that much aside every month for Christmas.

Same goes for all other irregular, but inevitable expenses.  Here are some examples:

  • Home Owner’s Insurance (if not in escrow)
  • Property Tax (if not in escrow)
  • Car Repairs/ Maintenance
  • All the smaller Holidays – Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Halloween.
  • Back to School
  • Road trips
  • Birthday Accounts – List all of the people in your life that you buy gifts for, or that you would like to eventually buy a gift for.  Assign each person a gift amount.  Add them all up and divide by 12.  Put that amount aside monthly and you will have the money ready when it is time.  Fill out the Monthly Birthday Calendar and you will not only have the money, but you will be prepared, too!
The Art of Love & Money Irregular Expenses
The Art of Love & Money Irregular Expenses

The easiest way I have found to handle these irregular expenses is in YNAB budgeting software.

You can also use an envelope system or plain old yellow pad and pencil, but it will be more hands-on work.  The benefit of the envelope system is the money is hands-off, not readily available in the checking account when you are fighting the urge to overspend.  When you find the perfect red heels that you have been searching for, even though you have no particular place to wear them to, you would have to physically go home and take the money out of your sister’s birthday envelope, and that just makes you feel like a jerk. 😉

I used to keep the irregular expenses in my ING savings buckets, but that made for a lot of little buckets and transfers back and forth, which I didn’t mind because it did help me to stay within budget and goals, but using the YNAB budget categories is so much simpler and is more systematic, which gives me time in my day to handle all of the other financial matters and other areas of my life, or to just read a book or take a painting class, or binge watch Netflix.  My choice.

Now, don’t go getting overwhelmed by all of this.  Fill out the worksheet even if money is tight and you can’t fit it into the budget right now.  Especially if money is tight.

You don’t have to pay for it all now, you just have to list it.

You will want to be caught up to date and current on all bills before you start funding these categories.  It’s a bit of an advanced function of the budget, but it is important for their to be space.  That way, when there is a windfall in your budget you don’t know what to do with – You’ll know where it should go.

I mean, I’d rather blow my windfall in the moment, but in the face of car repairs and property taxes due and by the way, kiddo’s birthday is next month, I’ll be glad I allocated based on my priorities instead.

This is key to getting out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle.  And if you get paid bi-weekly?  That is the perfect opportunity to bank the bonus third paycheck of the month twice per year.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

ACTIONABLE STEP: List all of the irregular expenses that need to be accounted for throughout the year.  Apply a dollar amount to each category and work the irregular expenses into your budget.

Want tozoom meet up for a coffee chat via Zoom and talk about irregular expenses?  Shoot me an email at & let’s do it!