I help people spend more time, energy, and money ticking items off their bucket list.

How to Handle Unexpected Expenses to Work on Bucket List Goals

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If we could push the easy button and just take off to complete any bucket list item whenever we felt like it, everyone would have their dream lists completed and I would just shut down this here blog right now! 

Sometimes bucket list items don’t get checked off because midway through we decide that something isn’t worth pursuing after all, and that’s okay.

On the other hand, if you find that not finishing something you started is an ongoing theme, then that’s different. In this case, pinpointing underlying issues may be necessary to move things forward. 

If it’s procrastination, a New York Times article entitled “Why You Procrastinate (It has Nothing to Do With Self-Control)” reveals that delaying tasks has more to do with not wanting to manage the unpleasant feelings surrounding it.

Why would someone avoid tasks to make a bucket list item happen?

If you tend to put things off because your problem is money-related, think about analyzing your spending. If there are constant surprises in your budget that prevent you from completing bucket list goals, see what is going on, figure out what you can control and make sure you plan for unexpected expenses. 

What are Some Unexpected Expenses?

Some unexpected expenses are ones you truly didn’t know were coming such as an accident, anything health-related, natural disasters, job loss, etc. The best way to handle these types of expenses is through insurance or a large amount of savings in an emergency fund.

Other Types of Unexpected Expenses

Unanticipated costs come up. Maybe you didn’t plan on paying for a dental night guard, a broken cell phone or another trip to the vet. That happens. I call these mini-emergencies. 

On some level, an unexpected expense can be any purchase you weren’t anticipating. Once my kids started school, there were many expenses I didn’t know about such as multiple fundraisers, a slew of birthday parties, field trips, sports team photos and the list goes on and on.

I found it hard to predict. Though some of them came at the same time of year, it all felt random. It can leave you wondering how to deal with so many expenses.

How to Handle Unexpected Expenses

If you get hit with these types of costs a little too often, see how much it’s costing you by tracking these expenses for 2-3 months. Then consider leaving extra money in your checking account or make a separate savings account to act as a bit of a cushion outside of a regular emergency fund. You can also forego anything that isn’t necessary.

You’ll be better prepared and it won’t derail your regular bills, financial goals or bucket list goals. Don’t forget, there are also irregular expenses that can feel like unexpected expenses even though you know they’re around the corner.


What are Irregular Expenses and Why Do They Feel Like Unexpected Expenses? 

Irregular expenses are things you have to pay for regularly that aren’t a part of your monthly budget. They can feel like they fit into the unanticipated category because people tend to forget about them. 

Some come to us in bill form such as vehicle registration, insurance, taxes, etc. Other irregular expenses are purchases for haircuts, clothinggiftsetc. They are also something you pay for on a regular basis, but not monthly. That’s why it can get tricky to have money for them when needed.

Technically, you know they’re all coming at some point, but since they are paid quarterly, annually, seasonally, etc.they tend to fall off the radar. It’s easy to forget about them altogether and not have money set aside to pay for themIt’s a common problem and can constantly keep you from fulfilling your list of dream goals. 

How to Budget for Irregular Expenses 

Though irregular expenses like an insurance bill, emissions testing or vehicle registration fee can take you by surprisethink about pulling money out of each paycheck to save for them when the bills come due. You’ll have the money to pay them without throwing things off.

Identify any irregular recurring bills for the year. Add them all up. If your paycheck comes weekly, then divide the total number by 52 (number of weeks in a year). Put that amount away every time you get paid in a separate account just for irregular bills. 

Let’s pretend your irregular recurring bills for the year are $5000. Divide $5000 by 52.  The answer is $96.15. That is the amount you would put away weekly to have money waiting to pay upcoming bills.

If you receive biweekly checks, divide the total by 26 (half of 52) and put that amount away bi-weekly. You can also get the monthly amount by dividing by 12. No matter how you do it, you just have to decide when to transfer the money. You can treat it as if it were a monthly bill. Experiment and see what works best.


No matter when you pull the money out, consider automating the transfer so you don’t have to think about it. If you want to be super nerdy and do this for other irregular expenses such as haircuts, holidays, Fantasy Football, etc., then you can make a separate account for those irregular expenses as well.

I use Capitol One 360. It’s an online bank that allows you to open up multiple accounts to organize your money better. You can see everything in one spot. I’ve been using it for years and can’t recommend it enough. Learn more about opening up a Capitol One account here. 

Once I did this, there were fewer curve balls and I could have regular spending money to pursue bucket list ideas. My plans didn’t get put on hold anymore and mini emergencies like repairs weren’t so hard to handle.

Final Thoughts

Being able to do things that are on your bucket list can be an exhilarating feeling.  And while unforeseen or unexpected events can sometimes get in the way, don’t let irregular expenses that you can plan for be one of those.  By being proactive and account for those expenses monthly, you can manage to still focus on your bucket list dreams.

If this helped you, please share it on social. Then we’re even Steven. Okay?