List of Irregular Expenses

Budget for these expenses that crop up throughout the year

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Photo: Musketeer/Getty Images

Does it feel like something is always blowing up your budget? Irregular expenses are likely to blame.

While most people have a handle on their monthly expenses, far fewer successfully manage expenses that pop up every now and then. This long list of irregular expenses may help you spot some looming problems in your own budget, so check it against this list and make the necessary revisions.


Your insurance expenses may be billed monthly or they may be billed annually or quarterly. If the latter is the case, build these recurring costs into your budget so the premiums don't sneak up on you. Here are some types of insurance that you may have and need to budget for:

Taxes, Retirement, and Charity

If you don't make contributions throughout the year, these will quickly turn into large expenses that you'll have to fund at the end of each quarter or year, which will cause significant disruption to your budget. Here are some common contributions that you may need to plan for:

  • Estimated tax payments
  • Property tax: If this isn't rolled into your mortgage payments, or you've already paid off your house, you'll need to have a plan to pay this yearly.
  • Income tax payment: If you think you might owe money at the end of the year, you'll need to build in some savings to cover the cost.
  • Retirement contributions: If you wait until the end of the year or until tax time to make your contributions, make sure the money will be there when you need it.
  • Charitable contributions


While it's easy for most of us to remember our monthly bills and budget items, we must be deliberate about planning for these expenses that appear at other-than-monthly intervals.

Home Expenses

It's important to stay on top of the care and upkeep of your home, but often these expenses catch us by surprise. Here are some things you need to plan ahead for:

  • Home maintenance
  • Home repairs
  • New appliances, repair, or replacement
  • Furniture replacement and additions
  • Bedding, kitchenware, and linens
  • Lawn care
  • Garden expenses
  • Tree care and removal
  • Homeowners’ association dues

Vehicle Expenses

There are many expenses associated with owning a car, truck, or motorcycle that go beyond gas and insurance. Here are some things that you need to budget for:

  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Tires
  • Vehicle registrations
  • Vehicle inspections

Utility Expenses

Utilities often are monthly expenses, but there are some random costs that you may encounter, including:

  • Replacing your cell phone to update to the latest model, or when lost or stolen
  • Pay-as-you-go cell phone minutes

Education Expenses

Being in school, or having kids that are in school, gets expensive in a hurry. Here are some expenses that are likely to pop up:

  • Tuition bills
  • Class dues
  • Technology fees
  • School and office supplies
  • School pictures and yearbooks
  • Field trips
  • Testing fees

Health Expenses

Even if you have a good insurance plan, there are likely to be some unexpected expenses that arise over the course of the year. Here are some to consider:

  • Yearly check-ups (medical and vision)
  • Glasses/contacts
  • Medical bills
  • Dental cleanings
  • Dental work
  • Insurance deductibles (enough to cover your largest deductible)

Pet Expenses

Your best friend can also rack up plenty of unexpected expenses, including:

  • Pet check-ups, vaccinations, prescriptions
  • Pet grooming
  • Pet licensing
  • Pet boarding
  • Veterinary health insurance
  • Emergency veterinary care


Some of these irregular expenses may be good places to look for added savings and frugality, such as the auto insurance payment (Can I find a lower premium?) or our enjoyment of dining out (Can I put away more money for retirement by eating out less?).

Personal Care Expenses

What you wear and how you look can cost you a lot of money over time. Be sure to plan for:

  • Hair care, nail care
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Jewelry
  • Cosmetics

Leisure Expenses

People often make impulse decisions in this area, but it's a better idea to set aside money much farther in advance:

  • Vacations and travel, including transportation, lodging, food, and admission fees
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Newspaper subscriptions
  • TV and movie streaming subscriptions (such as Netflix or Amazon Prime)
  • Season tickets and season passes
  • Fine dining events
  • One-time tickets (to concerts, plays, conferences, theme parks, festivals, etc.)
  • Home electronics, computers, and mobile devices
  • Hobby supplies
  • Sports activity supplies, clothing, shoes, equipment, and fees
  • Membership fees (for clubs, gym, work-related organizations, warehouse clubs, co-ops, etc.)
  • Kids’ activities fees (sports, dance, scouts, after-school clubs, camp, etc.)
  • Gifts
  • Christmas (food, travel, clothes, gifts, decorations, etc.)
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