Sometimes you drop your phone in the toilet. Root canals don’t send out save-the-dates three months in advance. While unexpected bills are harder to quantify and predict, because they’re “unexpected,” there’s nothing stopping you from estimating what they may be and how you would go about paying them.
One way to be more prepared is to look through old credit card statements, find big transactions, and ask yourself: What are the odds of this happening again? Even if the answer is a hesitant “maybe,” include it on your list of possible unexpected bills, perhaps with advice on what you’d do better next time.
Medical expenses tend to be the most devastating. It’s tragic we live in a time when people are more worried about debt than getting well. If a medical emergency were to strike your family, which has become especially terrifying due to COVID-19, would you be able to come up with the money without going bankrupt or having to rely on the kindness of others?
When it involves anticipating possible emergency home expenses, make a list of possible issues when you reach the specific tasks focused around a walk through of your home. You can check and see if the water heater is on its last legs, if the gutters are hanging off the house, or if the washing machine is one spin cycle away from laundry heaven. Same goes for vehicle expenses, which can also be a financial killer.
You can drive yourself crazy manufacturing worst case scenarios regarding every situation in your life that might drain your bank account, but that’s no way to live. You want to get your life organized, not freak out about your roof caving in or your puppy needing an $8,000 surgery to correctly align her hips. But think of the stress it would cause someone in your family if they had to step in during an emergency and figure this all out on the fly.
Come up with a general list of possible and realistic major expenses that could spring up out of nowhere. If you’re generally aware of things that might break, you can at least brace yourself and your family when the thing actually breaks.