Ask the Readers: Have You Had Any Surprise Expenses This Year?

By Ashley Jacobs on 6 October 2015 70 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to EM, Katie, and Kristin for winning this week's contest!

Life happens! Sometimes, it happens in a way that forces you to spend money where you didn't expect to. According to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, 53% of Americans had unforeseen expenses this year. The top categories were (as you can probably guess) car trouble, healthcare, and house related improvements.

Have you had any surprise expenses this year? What were they? Did you have enough funds to pay for it, or did you have to get creative with your budget?

Tell us if you've had any surprise expenses this year and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Guest's picture
Elena

Yes, I had some surprise medical expenses.

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Matt

No, nothing too unsurprising luckily.

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Gina

Thankfully so far there have been no surprise expenses. If I had any, I couldn't pay them.

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Julie Wood

I have had no surprise expenses for me this year and I am so glad!

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Ernest S.

Had an unexpected tax audit which found an error in a past year, so I ended up with some unplanned expenses and penalties.

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Megan

Last year I won two radio contests - a $1200 gift certificate for a treadmill and a trip to South Carolina. I knew I'd have to pay a good amount of taxes on them, but didn't plan for exactly how much. It was a bit of sticker shock and I tried to scale back on other items in my budget in the month I had to pay it, but I also had bridesmaid duty expenses that sprang up, so I went a little over, but was able to even out within a few months.

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Tina in NJ

Who hasn't? In my case, I had a mild heart attack (high blood pressure), which quickly ate up our insurance deductible. It used to be the car breaking down, now it's body parts.

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Guest

We had a crack in a pipe that need to be replaced and drywall repaired. We had an emergency fund to cover the expense, but got creative and lean with our budget that month to try to replace as much as we could from what we took from the fund. We planned meals around what we already had in our pantry/freezer and minimized additional grocery purchases and eating out.

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Suz_Glo

Our surprise expenses this year have been car related. Our older vehicle needed a weld fixed in the driver's side door and the same door's power window fell out of track. Total cost of about $450 but we have several rainy day/savings account for just this kind of unexpected bill. And, since this 11 year old car is still going strong in all other ways, we figured these maintenance costs were a good investment.

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Mary

My surprise expense this year was the birth of my 4th child.

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Angel

I just recently had an extended hospital stay and home recovery on doctor's orders. What I thought was a simple emergency room visit that I had funds and paid time off for became a two week expense.

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Whitney

Broke a tooth completely on a SPRINKLE. Got really insulted, because I love sprinkles. A 2k unexpected expense. :/

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Kat Skull

Yes, but only one major one. My cat's vet bill was just under $600 for getting one tooth pulled. This bill was separate from the $130 bill for shots and exam earlier in the summer.

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Susan P.

We had a hospital bill that wasn't expected. Insurance paid for most of it and of course the Medical Reimbursement account in the Cafeteria plan was used up. I put off paying it to save money so it wouldn't impact our monthly budget.

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SKB

Yes - plumbing problems. The shower in the master bathroom wouldn't turn off and the little drip,drip, drip became a BIG DRIP and a big cost.

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MELISSA HANSSON

No emergency or surprise bills this year, but I'm still trying to save money for the bathroom remodel we weren't expecting (from last year).

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Betty

I had an unexpected car repair. It's a new car, but I had a tire problem. Thankfully, I had the funds to fix it.

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Catseye

No unexpected expenses, knock on wood, just the usual ones.

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Mary W

This year has been pretty stable but 2 years ago I had unexpected inheritance of property. Sold the property and had to pay more taxes than usual. Finally back on track this year but it took time to recover from a gift that came with strings.

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Jeff

No surprise expenses this year

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Liz

Some last minute expenses with my wedding but overall nothing too unexpected

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Terri H

Needed new tires for our car!

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Jennifer Marie

My oldest son is having surgery this month.

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Susan Smith

Yes, a pipe burst in the bathroom that had to be fixed.

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lostAnnfound

Dental expenses for our girls. One had wisdom teeth our and the other (college-age) needed a couple of crowns! Thankfully, the dentist showed us a plan that lets us pay over time and if we pay off within 12 months there is no interest due on the bill.

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Valerie Waters

While returning from work at 3am, my husband's transmission went out.

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Holly

Yes, I have definitely had surprise medical expenses this year. Random testing, a colonoscopy, etc. I didn't have the funds to pay for it, so I have had to get creative with the money I had on hand, doing a balance transfer, and rethinking some short- and long-term financial goals.

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sonja

I had several surprise expenses... a well leak, my dog needed two surgeries, unexpected cat vet bills and horse vet bills as well as a flooded basement issue that still needs to be fixed...an expensive year!

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Cheryl

No surprise expenses, thankfully! But we do have a pretty good emergency fund saved up, so hopefully any unexpected expenses could be handled without hurting our budget too much.

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Nancy

Yes. We had to replace our AC and furnace. We didn't expect this, but perhaps we should have. The HVAC system was 19 years old.

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Guest

I unexpectedly had to buy a new set of tires. I opened a credit card at the service place and don't have interest if I pay it off in 6 months, which I will do. Additionally, my dad is helping me somewhat, so that might be a cop out, but I am lucky.

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Holly Sanford

We had a huge amount of extra expenses this year as flash flooding totaled two of our vehicles and our garage and basement in July. Besides the two vehicles, we had to replace our water heater, washer and dryer, my son's bed and dresser, and of course drywall materials. Devastating to our budget to say the least and insurance didn't cover anything except one of the vehicles since we are nowhere close to any body of water and therefore didn't have flood insurance on our property.

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Wendy Roberson Welch

Unfortunately, yes. My car decided that I needed a new fuel pump out of the blue. Completely unexpected & very out of my budget.

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Ana

Unexpectedly had to buy a new bed frame after my previous one broke. Sleeping on a mattress on the floor is not my type of comfort.

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Bethany M

We had an unexpected dental expense.

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Sue

yes, unfortunately I was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer. Fortunately I have an HSA account and had savings to cover it plus saved sick time for my time off work. It was removed and I am cancer free. Now I'm working on getting my savings back to where it was and then some.

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Shannon

In order to get our car tags in Georgia when we moved earlier this year, we had to fork over 7% of our car's 'assessed value' up front! We figured there would be costs associated, but definitely did not budget for the thousands they charged us. We also got married this year so the budget was already very tight. Luckily we were able to work it out!

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GB

Yes, I had unexpected vet bills.

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Elle

Yes, I had dental bills.

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Susan D.

Well, I had cancer earlier this year. Luckily, caught early and very treatable, and I have decent medical coverage. Even so, I hit my maximum out-of-pocket cost of $3300. So on the good side, I get my prescriptions and doctor visits for no additional cost for the rest of the year!

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Raina

I guess you could say a little home maintenance was a surprise cost, but I found an affordable contractor and didn't have to pay much (a couple hundred dollars).

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An g

yes my husband had a double hernia in March. Bills are still coming in.

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Donna D

Had to pay more income tax than expected.

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R. B. A. Ross

Plumbing problems, new tires on both of our cars, new deck b/c our old one was crumbling, our normal life eating up what little we can manage to save up.

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SmArtsyChick

My car literally blew up while driving. It was declared a total loss and although I ended up getting more money than I thought, but I had to get a new (to me) car :(

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Guest

Yep! We had unexpected medical expenses, plus the cost of setting up at home care, medical equipment and PT.

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Amanda Sakovitz

No, luckily I havent.

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Louly

I have a classic car. I shouldn't keep being surprised when it needs more money poured into it, but I still am.

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Liisa R

Yes! I started law school as well as my first office job, and had to buy a wardrobe suitable for appearances in court as well as business casual clothes. Books, a new laptop, (ours was 6 years old), and a good desk chair were also unexpected as of January 1!

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Amy

In the past 12 months, we have had to replace a wall in our bathroom, our furnace, our air conditioner, and our refrigerator. Not a great year for home repairs!

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Emily S.

I had to buy a new car! I got a new job and my old beater couldn't (reliably) make the long commute.

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alona

No. Thankfully :)

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Jaclyn

bought a house so many surprised, mostly oil to gas conversion.

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Kris B.

I had unplanned car expenses for my car. With triple digit summer weather, my car air conditioning would turn off. After 3 different trips to the mechanic and multiple parts replaced, I took a hit on $1000 for those repairs. Luckily. I was able to use some savings and my credit card to pay for the repairs. Even with regular car maintenance, things do wrong.

Kris

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BRB

Yes, our cat has been a real money sink this year as he's been ill.

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april

Yes I got 2 flats so I had to get all 4 new tires.

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Ariel

We bought a home last year so our big financial surprise was paying the home warranty. It's not a must but there are several older components to our home. Last year the seller paid but we would have broke even using it the two times we did. It is equal to an extra mortage payment so it's not pennies but it certainly didn't derail our financial progress. This is exactly why we save and why we intentionally bought less house than we can afford.

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Jessica

Medical! Had to have surgery. :(

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Kim

We purchased a house so lots of surprise expenses around moving, getting the apartment we were renting ready for move-out (e.g., having to paint), and settling into the new house. I try to budget for these extra things each year, but this year was especially rough!

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Guest

I had to buy a car last minute - so expensive!

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Happy Love

We've had some surprise construction costs for our home addition, but that's almost to be expected.

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Michelle D.

Yes I had to get an MRI this year and that was definitely unexpected and expensive!

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Julie Lundstrom

Yes my furnance went down last winter and my garage door just broke.

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Kristin Goodson

I had car trouble this year and had to dig into my savings to pay for it.

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c hui

Yes medical expenses

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Michael

None so far *knock on wood*

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EM

Car repair!

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Tabathia B

Our family suv had some mechanical problems and it's our only vehicle so we had to take out small loan through our credit union to fix and it comes out automatically from bank account

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Thomas Murphy

my surprise expenses was new car tires

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DEBBIE

My mother became ill and was unable to pay for all of her medical supplies and medicine. I took on the responsibility of assisting her.