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How To Save For Irregular Bills & Expenses


bills yeah

In January through March we celebrate 7 family birthdays, while in many other months we don’t have any.

Our city water and trash bill comes every 3 months and is usually around $75.

Every August, we pay our almost $400 dollar life insurance bill (Eeesh). It’s not a fun check to write, but because of our system for handling irregular bills/spending (aka: expenses that don’t happen every month), we have the money already set aside to pay for it. No need to stress and eat ramen noodles for the month to be able to write the check.

These irregular bills and expenses can totally destroy your budget.

They definitely used to for us. We’ve generally had a regular monthly income without much wiggle room, so these “extras” used to throw off the whole budget. A few years ago, I finally worked out a system of how to handle these costs that has worked for us.

Stop Pretending That Irregular Bills & Expenses Don’t Exist


I know for a fact that we will have to renew the license plate on our car every year and it will cost about $100.

I even know that every once in a while we are going to have to fix something in our house.

And Mozzie(our spoiled pup) will need to have a trip to the groomer roughly every other month. Plus, he has to go to the vet at least once a year. And of course, we will have to keep buying him food and treats.

None of these things are surprises! They are going to happen. So why not have a plan?

We set aside money every month for multiple different bills and expenses that don’t necessarily happen every month. This helps to keep our budget pretty much the same from month to month. It might not be much money that we set aside, but if we don’t use that money each month, it adds up into a nice little “savings fund” for that category.

Right now, we only have $10 deposited into our house fund a month, but it has built up enough to help pay for small fixes and needs.

Here are some of the categories that we set money aside for each month, along with the amount we are currently adding to that fund every month:presents

  • Car: $20. Enough to cover our yearly plate renewal($100), oil changes, and the occasional small repair.
  • Mozzie: $40. Our dog has his own fund to cover his grooming, vet trips, flea and heart-worm medicine, kibbles, and treats.
  • Medical: $10. We have an HSA that covers our co-pays and other medical bills. We use this fund for things like cold medicine and vitamins, which get kind of expensive and always catch my budget off guard.
  • Gifts: $15. Like I mentioned earlier, we have family birthdays that come all together, so I let this fund build up during the months without birthdays so we have enough to cover the busier months. Read about inexpensive gift ideas here.
  • Christmas: $20. It comes every year! It’s nice to have money ready to go to buy presents (like I mentioned in this earlier post).
  • Life Insurance: $33. We divide that painful $400 bill by 12 to contribute enough each month to cover it.
  • City Bill: $25. We get a bill from the city for our water and trash every three months. It’s usually about $75 each time, so I divide that by three.
  • Giving: $100. We like to give to various charities and nonprofits but we’re not regular about it, so this builds up until we make a contribution.
  • House: $10. This covers small repairs and things we need for the house.
  • Grocery: $25. Every few months we make a trip to a nearby bigger city to stock up at a few favorite stores. This trip is always expensive, so I’ve started this fund to have extra money set aside for that trip.

I will point out that we do have an emergency fund built up to cover any large expenses. Our car and house funds are not large, so if something big happens we dip into the emergency fund and then make it a priority to build that back up to its regular amount.

Also, if we make more money than we need for our budget for the month, we will decide which of these funds to add an extra chunk to. This helps to “beef up” our funds since we don’t add very much to some of them each month.

These are just the expenses that we save for monthly, but there are many more that may apply to you. Things like:

  • Kid Stuff: Sports fees, summer activities, day care…
  • Clothes and Shoes for the Family
  • Other Bills that Don’t Come Monthly
  • Expenses for Hobbies

How to Save for Irregular Bills & Expenses

Set The Money Aside

This money should not be mixed in with your regular money for the month’s budget, but it should be easy to access.

If you are a careful record keeper, you can just have an extra checking account where you keep the money for all of your little funds. My mom did this growing up and had special ledger sheets where she tracked when the money was added to and spent for each category.

I’ve been using actual separate savings accounts for each fund for a few years.

The money is automatically added to each fund monthly (so wonderful not to think have to think about it!) and then when I need to spend from a category, I transfer the correct amount to my checking account.

The automated monthly deposits into our mini savings funds really helps to keep our budget pretty much the same every month.

I highly recommend using Capital One 360 savings accounts.

brand-logo-2xThey allow you to have up to 25 separate savings accounts. You can nickname your accounts to correspond with your chosen categories and have money automatically deposited to the account as regularly as you want.

I plan our budget monthly, so I have money automatically added to our accounts on the first of every month.

I have used Capital One 360 for a few years now and these savings accounts have helped our budget immensely. Plus, they give you a .75% interest rate which is way better than our regular bank.

Find What Works For You

I’ve found that it is so important in personal finance to know yourself and find what works best for you.

I’m not super great at keeping detailed records. If I had our “irregular bills and expenses money” mixed in with the rest of our money, I know I’d spend it on accident. This system has worked best for us.

However you decide to handle it, by planning for your non-monthly expenses, you will lower your stress and be ready for those bills that would normally catch you off guard.

⇒What are some of your irregular expenses and how do you plan for them?

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Great advice for how to save for bills and expenses that don't happen regularly!

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Paula Niziolek

Monday 13th of June 2016

I so love this idea and don't know why it has never occurred to me to do this before. Taking your advice and starting those categories with the next paycheck!


Monday 13th of June 2016

Thanks Paula! You will love it!

Mel @ brokeGIRLrich

Monday 21st of March 2016

I pay my car insurance once a year and I really should break it down better, but usually around February I start thinking of it and socking away for that large June payment. If I ever forgot completely.... that would be a rough payment to scrounge up.


Monday 21st of March 2016

That's good you're at least thinking ahead Mel!


Sunday 20th of March 2016

Thank you for sharing your system on saving for the unexpected! We all need to have a similar system, because extra expenses always arise!


Sunday 20th of March 2016

Thanks Teresa! It's so true, something always comes up.

Latoya @ Life and a Budget

Saturday 19th of March 2016

Hi Christine!

Awesome post! I'm visiting from Financially Savvy Saturday. I just wrote a post about the same topic and it's funny how we are using the exact same set up to handle our irregular expenses. Some like to call them unexpected, but I hope to dispel that myth because nothing you've talked about is unexpected.

We all know these expenses are coming so instead of dodging them, it's best to just prepare for them so it will save you a headache.

Thanks for sharing your system because it's going to take a whole lot of us sharing it to help Americans with their savings:)

Have a great weekend!


Saturday 19th of March 2016

Thanks Latoya!! I love your blog by the way! Life is so much less stressful when we make plans for our bills and expenses because they really aren't "unexpected".


Wednesday 16th of March 2016

I love these ideas, we build extra into our emergency fund but not small set amounts like you suggest, thank you!


Thursday 17th of March 2016

Thanks Allie! I hope it helps.