Life, as the cliché goes, is full of surprises. And oftentimes it’s your financial well-being that can take a hit when something unexpected comes your way. One-time expenses—whether they’re true surprises or just something your budget didn’t account for—can send your personal finances for a loop if you don’t know how to prepare, or aren’t adequately equipped to respond. Use these tips to help manage both expected and unexpected costs.

Handling Expected One-Time Expenses

One-time expenses that fall outside the purview of your monthly budget can take many forms. From exciting vacations and enticing events to more mundane maintenance projects, certain costs might seem unexpected. Ultimately, though, many of these may fall into a category that already is—or should be—a part of your regular budget.

Whether it’s entertainment, home improvement, or otherwise, you can get out ahead of these sorts of one-time expenses with the right planning. One way to do this is to use your previous year’s expenses as a guide. What you deem occasional, rare, or one-time expenses might actually reveal themselves to be, upon further examination, seasonal in nature.

You can pair this look back at your finances with a look forward at potential expenses for the year ahead. With a more comprehensive view of things that aren’t explicitly accounted for in your budget, you can begin setting aside a fraction of the total cost of certain items months ahead of time in order to avoid a larger, potentially more disruptive one-time outlay.

Carving Out a New Category

Even when you can’t account for exact expenses ahead of time, you may be able to estimate how much certain aspects of your life are going to cost you and add a category to your budget. For instance, you might know that your aging car is going to need some repairs this year. Consider how much it’s cost you in the past, and use this number to help inform this year’s repair cost estimate. Incorporate this annual amount into your monthly budget. If you prefer, you can even open a savings account in which to set aside money for a particular expense category.

Coping with Truly Unexpected One-Time Expenses

Of course, even the best-prepared budgets can be busted by one-time expenses. Sometimes, unfortunately, medical emergencies, job losses, and other truly unplanned things can come up. Perhaps the best way to account for this is with an emergency fund. While the amount recommended to have on hand varies, most would recommend having enough saved up to cover three to six months’ worth of your regular expenses.

Another option, best used as a complement to an emergency savings fund, is an emergency credit card. An emergency credit is typically one that has a high credit limit, low interest rate, low fees, and has a revolving account that can be used as an extra tool to insulate yourself from the direst emergencies.

As it is so often, the name of the game here is preparation. You can’t always know exactly what life is going to throw your way, but with the help of these strategies, you can improve the chances that one-time expenses don’t throw you off.

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