How do I Budget for One Time Expenses?

There are 2 Types of One Time Expenses. They are Predictable, and Non-Predictable. I’ll explain how to budget for EACH Separately…
Photo Credit: De La Pena

The first thing you need to know about budgeting for One Time Expenses… is what they are.

There are 2 Types of One-Time Expenses: Predictable and Non-Predictable.  I’ll explain how to budget for EACH separately…

Budget for Predictable One Time Expenses

These are typical annual expenses such as:

  • Mortgage Insurance
  • Amazon Prime Fees
  • Zoo Memberships
  • Club Fees
  • Life Insurance

OR they can be an event you are planning on… such as:

  • New Baby
  • Knee Surgery
  • 10 Year Anniversary Vacation to Australia

Whether it’s an Annual, or one time expense (that you know about ahead of time)… You are able to budget the same way…

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1. Figure out how much you need

How much do you need for this one time expense?  Look up what you spent last year, and that would be a good guess what you spend this year… although, some memberships increase over the years.


Mortgage and Life Insurance: look up Last years
Zoo Membership, or Amazon Prime Fees:  Look up last years
Having a baby:  Call your Medical insurance and see what they estimate
Planning a 10 Year Anniversary Vacation:  Estimate how much it would be for traveling, hotels, and what you want to be able to pleasure spend WHILE you are there.

2. Figure out your time

How LONG do you have before you have to pay this amount?  Does it come once a year, or twice a year?  Will you need to pay it in 9 months (such as having a baby) or will it be in 5 years (celebrating your anniversary).

Know what time frame you have to play with, so you can determine your budget.

3.  Budget for your One Time Expenses

And now for the MAGIC FORMULA!  Ok.. It’s not really magic… but here you go!

Take how much you NEED divided by how many MONTHS you have till it’s due = how much you need to save EACH month.  1200 / 12 = $100


Life Insurance= $800, in a year… 12 months.  800 / 12 = 66.666  ROUNDING up… you will need to save $67 EACH MONTH for your Life Insurance

10 Year Anniversary=  $7,000 in 5 years… 60 months.  7000 / 60 = 116.666  You will need to save $117 EACH MONTH to have $7,000 for your vacation.

Download your free budgeting worksheets

Budget for the Un-Predictable One Time Expenses

Un-predictable one time expenses, are usually the non fun, emergency type ones… Some examples are:

  • Your car breaks down
  • Emergency Shoulder surgery because you tore it up playing baseball,
  • Car accident with MAJOR medical expenses that your insurance won’t cover all of
  • Sewer Main breaks in your house

Do you get the picture?  These are things that came up out of no-where, and need to be paid for SOON and FAST!

These are a little bit harder to plan because you Don’t know HOW much you really need… but if you PLAN on it…

ANYTHING is better than NOTHING when the time comes to need it.

The best way to plan for these expenses is to estimate average the cost of something major for various categories. Typically you’ll be saving a small amount each month, which will then add up after a few years.  You only need a new car transmission once, OR a major surgery hopefully never happens… but some medical expenses do add up.

Then take out some money each month and put into savings ONLY for this item…


  • Car Expenses=  Put $50 a month into savings.  After a year you would have $600 saved up… If you need new tires every 4 years, or a new transmission.  In 4 years that $2400… quite a big lump towards a major car expense OR a down payment for a new car since the old one got totaled.
  • Medical Expenses = Set aside $100 a month into savings and over the year you’ll have $1200.  Save up for 3 years and that’s $3600, half of what your health insurance deductible might be.

You will MOST LIKELY not need these one-time expenses every year… OR they won’t be that high… but the point is… each month you put money into it adds up… so when you DO need the money, it WILL be there!

Why budget for one time expenses?

Picture this:  If you put $600 a year into Car Expenses Savings but you only use about $200 year for oil changes and other small things.  In 3 years when your car happens to blow it’s transmission (true story) and you need a new one which costs $4000.  Over the 3 year time, you’ll have $1200 saved up!  It’s not enough to new transmission… but it WILL help with what you don’t have.  Same with medical, or house expenses.

Personally, I feel it is VERY IMPORTANT to have more than a “Savings” account.

Putting $100 into savings each month is NOT ENOUGH for when life happens.  Planning for Unexpected Events such as car trouble, medical trouble, or fun vacations that don’t happen often ALL allows you piece of mind.

Your savings account should have MORE than just “Savings”

It should be used to save for other things as well.

Download your free budgeting worksheets

True Story:

3 Years ago… our Sewer Main Broke.  We spent $7000 to fix it (luckily we were able to go with the cheap option).  The GOOD news was that we had $7000 in savings to pay for it.  The BAD news was that took ALL of our savings… and we were back to $0 in-case something happened again.

Since then, we put $20 here, or $50 there, $100 in another spot in ALL areas where things can go wrong.  So instead of just putting $100 a month into savings… we $270.  Does that make sense?

This summer our truck blew out a tire… instead of getting 2, we ended up needing to get all 4 tires.  $900!  Luckily we had $450 in our “car savings”, which helped A LOT and we didn’t feel the burn from taking all $900 out of savings like our previous emergency.

Tip: Put ALL this money into Savings, or take it out as cash and tuck it away WHERE YOU WILL NOT USE IT!!!!

In conclusion

One time expenses can be tricky, I hope this has helped you with planning for One-Time Expenses!  If you aren’t sure where to start with finances, or how to budget read about my fiances and budget tips under my finance tab.  Also, if you keep having reoccurring one time expenses, be sure to read if you need to update your budget.

OR if you have any questions contact us!  I love to hear from my readers and answer any questions you may have.

Update: Here is a quick video on some of the questions I’ve had about one-time expenses.

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How often do you find yourself needing a couple hundred dollars you don’t have?  comment below

Further Reading:

8 Reasons you are Always Over Budget

What to do if you go Over Budget

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