A week of Unexpected costs

How to Survive on a Student Budget

 

Unexpected costs have a habit of sneaking up on you, hitting you when you least expect it. Well they did recently for one of the members on The Money Shed forum – see how her week started bad then just got worse.

Monday mornings, they are bad at the best of times. School run to navigate, husband to see off to work and after a weekend of having everyone home to deal with, a good Monday morning is what you plead for. Unfortunately, life has a tendency to not go to plan and a bad Monday morning can lead to a full on bad week, here’s one of mine.

Monday – unexpected costs = £18

I knew the day was off to a bad start when the alarm decided it no longer wanted to work, I am very particular about checking the alarm before going to bed and in fact check it at least twice before I can go to sleep. This particular morning, we started 45 minutes late – great, a trip to town to grab a new alarm clock.

It was fine though, I managed to catch up by sending the husband to work with a coffee in his travel mug and telling him to just buy some lunch as there was no way he was getting a packed one made with less than 15 minutes before he left. My son and I managed to leave on time for school but then disaster number two hit us when my bus pass decided not to work. I use a card that is paid for monthly by direct debit, the money had left the account, my account was saying it was active but the bus reader was telling the driver otherwise so that was a day ticket I needed to add on to my list of “things I wasn’t expecting to pay for today”. After a call to the bus company that was sorted and I was credited the day ticket from my next payment.

Tuesday – unexpected costs = £169

Monday went by without any more trouble, luckily. Tuesday started great, the new alarm clock was working, the husband left for work full of coffee with a healthy lunch and even the school run was uneventful with my pass being sorted. Until I got home to find the dog had mistaken my laptop for a chew toy and I found it in many pieces on the living room floor – without a laptop I couldn’t work (self-employed) so that was me spending the day in town, again, trying to find a laptop that didn’t break the bank but would cope with my demands. Luckily I found one so was able to venture home where I found a card from the postie informing me that I had a package to be collected and came with a customs charge – wonderful. Later that day, as if the dog incident wasn’t bad enough, the cat decided she liked the look of our chicken breasts that I’d just taken out of the fridge and while I was on the loo she crept in like a ninja to steal them. Pizza for tea it was then.

Friday – unexpected costs = £248

Now Wednesday went without a problem, as did Thursday so I thought the start of the week from hell was all I had to worry about until the Friday post came which brought our quarterly gas and electric statement. They decided that over the summer we had used more gas than the whole of last autumn through to spring, please bear in mind we only use gas for the heating and hot water so for it to be that high was impossible. I rang them and it turns out every meter reading we gave them mysteriously disappeared so it was worked out on an estimate, but they couldn’t sort it now so needed to bill paying and they’d use it as credit for the next bill – it’s safe to say we’re no longer with that company. Our son then came out of school waving a final reminder letter for a school trip next week, you know the kind where you don’t even get the first reminder because it’s screwed up in his toy box where he had used it to draw a sketch from Pokemon where Pikachu destroys Team Rocket (well, apparently that’s what it was).

Weekend – unexpected costs = £25

Saturday morning, I woke up thinking “it’s the weekend, no real plans so nothing should go wrong” then the in-laws rang and they decided they wanted to come over for dinner on the Sunday, but I didn’t have enough to feed another four mouths so emergency trip to the supermarket resulted in a large piece of beef and all the trimmings, wine and dessert that goes with it. Wonderful, just what I needed after a seriously stressful week – the in-laws and cooking for nine people.

It’s scary to see how much the unexpected costs from a bad week can soon add up, in just one week I had to pay out £460 in unexpected costs and luckily that didn’t include anything major such as a car problem, boiler breakdown or visit to the vets. I’m fortunate as I know that I can cover these costs by having a backup fund in place and savings but a lot of people don’t. Keeping on top of your finances isn’t hard to do when you plan ahead but if you’re having trouble meeting your monthly commitments then it might be worth seeking some professional advice – being in debt can have a snowball effect so if you don’t deal with it when it’s small it’ll soon become too big for you to manage.

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