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How to Make a Sinking Feeling a Good Thing

Unplanned expenses are the number one reason people find their budget going bust, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Let's learn how to fix it!

Does this sound like you? You are gaining traction in your finances when you get a call. “Honey, the car is making a strange noise.” What usually follows? You go into debt because you aren’t prepared. Your budget is busted! Today, I am going to highlight ten categories where you should employ the sinking fund principle. 

The sinking fund principle is simply setting a little money aside over time when you don’t need it so you have it when you do.

Think of the squirrel who stores acorns when whether is warm to be better prepared for the winter. The same behavior is observed in ants. If squirrels and ants can get it right, so can we! So, be like the squirrel or ant! Let’s dive into these ten budget areas where we can apply the sinking fund principle.

Car Repairs

Like I said in a previous video, car repairs can really sneak up on you and hit you over the head. 

Car Repairs are the most common budget buster. According to, the cost averages about $305 each repair, so make sure you are setting money aside every month for the inevitable. 


Utilities go up and down almost as much as the stock market. Find an average of your past utility costs and budget that average.  Check out my previous Savvy Saturday video, “How to Stop the Utility Bill Roller Coaster,” to get a better grasp on budgeting for utilities.

Pet Care

Pets can be expensive and their food and general expenses are not always purchased on a monthly basis. Add on top of that vet care, grooming, shots, and boarding and the irregularity can really throw your budget for a loop. For more information on how to nail these costs down, watch my video, “6 Important Ways to Save for Your Beloved Pet.”


This is one of the top two areas in a budget people underestimate. Whether for graduations, holidays or anniversaries, you need to make sure you have a plan of how much you are going to spend and who you are spending it on—even if that number is zero.  For additional help in this area, check out, “3 Steps to Eliminate Surprise Gift Expenses.”

Home Repairs

That roof is not going to repair itself and neither is that boiler; therefore, set aside a regular amount in your budget so you are prepared for the expenses of being a homeowner.  Start with $100 a month and evolve from there. 

Home Upkeep

On top of repairs comes upkeep. Whether cutting the grass, plowing the driveway, maintaining the garden or any of the other little things that come along, make a comprehensive list of the upkeep your property needs. Follow up by itemizing the cost for each expenditure over an extended period of time. That way you can break it down into your monthly budget.  To better prepare for these inevitable expenses, watch my previous Savvy Saturday video, “9 Upkeep Costs You’re Forgetting.”

Insurance Premiums

Whether it's auto insurance, life insurance or another form of coverage, consider if you have any premiums due quarterly, semiannually or annually. Make sure to budget those premiums monthly so you have the amount ready when they are due. 

Clothes (Don’t Forget Shoes!)

Everyone needs to buy clothes, even if they’re from Goodwill. You might not buy clothes every month, but you will need them eventually. Whether you are someone who buys a bunch of clothes in one big trip or purchases a little bit every month, make sure you factor these costs into your budget.  Additionally, for more tips on how to save when going clothes shopping, check out my video, “How to Get Cream of the Crop Clothes for Bottom of the Barrel Prices.”


Vacation, another cost people underestimate. Make a list, check it twice and then develop a budget, breaking that budget down by dividing by the number of months into the amount so you can begin putting that amount away every month. For more info on these costs, check out, “How to Make the Best Vacation Money Plan.” 

School Tuition

If you are sending your child to private school or after school/extracurricular activities, you need to implement the strategy of the sinking fund.  And, if you are paying for college or planning to go back to college, this is one way you can pay for college and avoid the burden of student loans.  The ten categories discussed here are just the tip of the iceberg. However, they create a good jumping off point for preparing for costs we don't always factor in, helping you find more money to not only be responsible but fund your dreams. 

Question: Do you already employ the sinking fund principle or are you unprepared? If not, that's okay because it's never too late to start. Let me help.

Come join my FREE Facebook community, The “Strong Together Money Community.” to stay informed and encouraged on your financial journey. Also, feel free to check out my free e-book to help you save in five additional areas. 


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