Are you ever surprised when an annual bill comes in? Do you always have the money sitting in an account ready to pay it? What about when the car breaks down?

One of the most common reasons a budget gets derailed is due to “unexpected” expenses. Most often, not only is your budget blown but so is your enthusiasm for sticking to a spending plan, so you give up.

Not anymore! Follow these 6 steps to make a better spending plan that will deal with unexpected surprises.

1. On a sheet of paper or spread sheet, write down in the left-hand column all the expenses that you pay less frequently than monthly. Common ones are insurances, club fees, birthdays and holidays. Also make allowances for unexpected repairs or maintenance.

2. Across the top, write all the months of the year.

3. In the squares or spaces where they intersect, write how much you need for that bill in the column of the month it will be due – for example, December for Christmas.

4. If you are not sure when you will need that money – such as money for unexpected car repairs – you should put two allocations six months apart, eg. March and September.

5. The tricky bit is adding up how much money you will need each month, for the whole year.

6. Divide the total amount for the year by 12. This gives you the amount you need to put aside every month. Then you should set up a monthly automatic payment for this amount into a separate account.

7. Breaking it down to fortnightly amounts will make it easier to manage if that is when you get paid.

Once you have this set up, you should never have an unexpected bill again and will always have money set aside when each one comes up – even if the car “unexpectedly” breaks down.

This process can also help cover uneven income such as self-employment. Go to to learn more.

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