I see it time and time again with my friends, extended family, and even my own family in the past. As parents, sometimes we fail to plan for certain expenses and then, when those things sneak up on us, we scramble to find the money to pay or we end up moving money around to make it work. The whole cycle creates chaos and can cause conflict between spouses. But, it doesn’t have to be this way!
My goal is to help parents live a more prepared life. When we think of being prepared, you might immediately think of things like safety, but being financially prepared for situations is so important, too! Being prepared for unexpected expenses is just one way that parents can make sure they manage their household and raise independent kids that grow up to do great things!
When you prepare for the unexpected by adding some extra wiggle room in your budget, you avoid unnecessary stress, arguments, and you set a great example for your kids! The first step in being prepared for unexpected expenses is to recognize them.
From my observations, here are the top 3 expenses that I see most families fail to plan for:
#1 Birthday Gifts
Now I’m not talking about birthday gifts for our own kids or partner. I’m talking about all of the other birthday parties that pop up throughout the year. We all have kids and those kids get invited to birthday parties ALL. THE. TIME!
But, most parents rarely plan ahead, financially, for purchasing all of these birthday gifts. I have two kids and between the two of them it feels like we are getting invited to 2 or more kid’s birthday parties a month. That’s a lot of gifts to buy and all of those gifts add up to a pretty good chunk of change we’re putting out every single month.
# 2 Back-to-School Supplies
This comes around every year, yet every year we’re surprised by how it all adds up.
We buy our kids supplies like pens and pencils, crayons, markers, binders, and other physical school supplies, but that’s not where it ends. There’s also new backpacks and lunchboxes, new clothes, and more. Our kids grow every year, so every year they need new clothes!
When the time comes, every single year, back-to-school shopping hits hard. And, the more kids you have, the bigger the expense can get.
#3 Holidays and Parties
BBQ’s, potlucks, dinner parties – plus holiday parties and gatherings, oh my! They happen every year but we don’t always think to plan for them.
But why do they create such a large, unforeseen expense? If you host, you need to buy all of the food plus decorations. For me, I have a separate fund for our family food and groceries. But if I’m hosting a holiday or a party, I don’t want that to come out of our regular weekly grocery budget. It has to come from somewhere and if you don’t plan for where, it can easily end up going on a credit card.
Bonus: Christmas Shopping
I know I said I had 3 expenses that parents fail to plan for but I’m throwing in a bonus for you and it’s Christmas! So many parents don’t budget for Christmas gifts. Or, they budget for Christmas gifts but forget about ALL of the other expenses that come along with the Christmas parties, like food, decorations, and outfits! There is so much to spend on at Christmas time it can get overwhelming.
The Super Simple Solution
All of these things happen every single year, yet we always find ourselves caught off guard. Well, you don’t have to continue with that cycle! I have a super simple solution to share with you.
For each occasion, take the amount you think you normally spend on those things. For example, back-to-school clothes. Decide how much you think you normally spend each year to buy your kids new outfits, then divide that by 12 and put that smaller amount aside each month. Now, when back-to-school shopping rolls around, you actually have money dedicated for that that you can pull from. You don’t have to worry about where the money is going to come from or pull out your credit card!
When you start thinking of things early, you know it’s coming so you can plan for it and be more prepared.