Author Topic: There's always a surprise expense!  (Read 2290 times)

lexde

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There's always a surprise expense!
« on: October 01, 2016, 05:20:38 AM »
It seems like no matter how much I budget or try, there is always some extra expense that pops up each month to keep me from getting ahead. A home repair, emergency vet trip, car repair, etc.

While I'm paying down my loans and even making extra payments each month, I'm still only seeing my net worth creep up about $200-400/month.

I feel like I will never get ahead this way.

I know that when you have a negative net worth (I'm looking at about -30.2K right now with -52K of it in student loan debt) it's a grind until you are debt free, and that once you are investing it's much easier to make headway, but I'm just wondering... how do I keep from getting discouraged?

roadtrippers

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Re: There's always a surprise expense!
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2016, 05:30:54 AM »
If there's one thing that this forum teaches, it's that your title is true for everyone--there is always a surprise expense. So we shouldn't think of them as surprises--they're just life.

If you don't have an emergency fund, start one for just that purpose--to deal with the "surprise" bills. Then it feels like you are using money allocated for that purpose--not taking it from your debt paydown.

For me, what worked to keep me on track when I wanted to spend instead of save is to turn it into a game. Some people like a visual debt paydown on the wall where they color in squares for each 100 or so. Thinking long term can help, too--what is your five year plan? 10 year?

When all else fails, a little schadenfreude helps too LOL. Reading about how someone else is in worse shape might help you stay positive and see that you're getting there. Best wishes!

Paul der Krake

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Re: There's always a surprise expense!
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2016, 05:41:05 AM »
Own fewer things that need repairs. Houses in particular can be a bottomless money pit, if you let them, as there will *always* be something that can be improved whether you live in a windy shack or a brownstone in Manhattan. The trick is to distinguish what needs fixing from what doesn't.

Emergency funds are a thing specifically because emergencies are unpredictable. It's pretty normal to have 3 emergencies in a 2 month span and then nothing for an entire year. If you truly find yourself putting out fires every month like clockwork for months on end, there is probably something that can be changed.


marty998

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Re: There's always a surprise expense!
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2016, 06:14:53 AM »
If there's one thing that this forum teaches, it's that your title is true for everyone--there is always a surprise expense. So we shouldn't think of them as surprises--they're just life.

If you don't have an emergency fund, start one for just that purpose--to deal with the "surprise" bills. Then it feels like you are using money allocated for that purpose--not taking it from your debt paydown.

For me, what worked to keep me on track when I wanted to spend instead of save is to turn it into a game. Some people like a visual debt paydown on the wall where they color in squares for each 100 or so. Thinking long term can help, too--what is your five year plan? 10 year?

When all else fails, a little schadenfreude helps too LOL. Reading about how someone else is in worse shape might help you stay positive and see that you're getting there. Best wishes!

Sage advice. Good post!

I have a little colour in the squares type thing going too... you feel the progression when colouring it in each time the 'stash creeps up.

Don't be discouraged lexde. You are only ever beaten when you give up.

Learn from the bumps in your journey. Then you will know how to smooth them out the next time you encounter them.

arebelspy

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Re: There's always a surprise expense!
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2016, 07:11:13 AM »
There's always a surprise, yes, but if your savings rate is high enough, and your income is decent, it's no big deal.

With your new income, these random expenses will be annoying, but you'll see your budget stabilize anyways, as your base spending of X + a Y item tends to be pretty similar month to month.  :)

Some months it may be a car repair, others paying your insurance premium for the next 6-12 months, others buying a plane ticket to visit a sick relative, others a charity event that caused you to donate more than your normal amount, etc. etc.

Good to know and track these, as they'll continue to happen, even in FIRE, and you can set a budget around even these, which become known unknowns. 
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choppingwood

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Re: There's always a surprise expense!
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2016, 08:54:31 AM »
Homes, pets and cars all need repairs from time to time. Try not to see these as "extras". Budget what you've been spending the last few months as a monthly item.

Also, you can make a game of how you can reduce your regular base expenses, to give you more margin for debt repayment. If you can knock $100 out of food or restaurant spending or shop around your phone or insurance costs, you can make some more gains on debt repayment. Making a change to your base spending each month for a few months will make a big difference. Don't make yourself miserable, but lots of expenses can be cut without a difference in how it feels.

If you can pay off a few hundred a month, the debt will start to drop much more as you go along.