Wendy Poling
Frequent Contributor

It seems like no matter how organized we might think we are or how much we have tried to plan in advance, unexpected expenses will sneak up on us during a deployment. It's part of life. For me when my husband is deployed "down range", if he has access to the internet, chances are he is going to be ordering "stuff". This could range from grocery type items, to the newest flashlight that has caught his eye to even the latest music CD of his favorite artist. All of these things can add up quickly and it's not long before it could create a dent in our budget. This also goes for an unexpected vet bill, car repair, not to mention my impromptu retail therapy visit to Target.


Here are three ways to plan for unexpected expenses:


Start an emergency fund - This can sound like too little to late, but trust me when I say starting small can still make a huge impact. If you were to save just $40 each paycheck you'd have $960 at the end of the year. That amount would go a long way to covering an unexpected car repair bill or vet bill. The key is to only use the money in an emergency!


Set aside "fun money" - Even though your spouse is deployed, you'd be surprise how much money they can spend. I also found that "retail therapy" can be expensive. We finally had to set a budget for how much money we could spend on fun things we wanted, but did not necessarily need. Once we each had our set amounts we didn't feel deprived. By taking this step, you'll each be able to spend money on whatever you feel you "want" and the "needs" of your household budget will still be met.


Look for ways to cut costs and trade services - If you find yourself in a financial pinch, remember it is okay to think outside of the box to save and find money. Trading services is one good way to accomplish this. For example, you can trade babysitting services and even pet sitting. Instead of kenneling your pets for that upcoming trip ask a friend to pet sit and be willing to return the favor. When going out to dinner, skip the appetizers, drinks and dessert and choose to only order an entree. You can easily cut your meal cost by at third if not more while still enjoying the experience of eating out.


These are just a few ideas to get you started. How do you plan for unexpected expenses? What has worked for you and your family?