Note: This is a guest post from Mark Hooson of Moneysupermarket.com
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
The frustrating thing about money is that it is inconsiderate. Money doesn’t care whether you’re struggling financially, so you can be hit with surprise expenses whether you have the money to pay for them or not.
When it comes to personal growth, your personal finances is not the most inspiring of subjects, but planning for the future is an integral part of developing your maturity and ability to cope with life.
The truth is, most of us have less in savings than we ought to in order to cope with life’s surprises.
What follows are five examples of potential financial surprise that could make things difficult for your bank balance, if you were to find yourself unprepared.
1. Car repair bills / Car accidents
Every single time I have been forced to spend money on a car, whether it was simply new tyres after a puncture or a new oil sump for my rusty first car, the expense always seemed to come at a time when my pockets felt a little light. Every time I would end up putting the cost on a credit card, borrowing money or putting off repairs until I could afford them.
Of course, there were potential problems with all of these solutions, not least putting off repairs – which is a dangerous thing to do.
2. Losing your job
Losing your job through redundancy or by getting fired is not generally something you can foresee, and both circumstances could put a tremendous strain on your finances.
With the current state of the world economy, many firms are being forced to look at cost-cutting measures like compulsory redundancies.
3. Mortgage payment increases
We tend to have a general idea of our monthly outgoings as a fixed sum, but there are factors beyond our control which could see an expense like mortgage payments increasing.
Changes in interest rates could mean bigger monthly payments and less disposable income available to you. Would you have a savings account you could dip into should this happen?
4. Death of a loved one
Perhaps the worst surprise that life can throw at us is the death of a loved one.
A death in the family is obviously an emotionally distressing time, and you will likely have to deal with feelings and processes you have never experienced before, like planning a funeral. Unfortunately these things incur costs that you can’t really account for.
5. Long-term illness
Our health tends to be completely unpredictable too. If you found yourself unable to work because of an extended period of illness then you could be hit financially, depending on your employer’s policy on sickness leave.
These are just five examples, and as most of us know there is any number of other nasty surprises waiting to hit your wallet.
Received wisdom indicates that you should ideally have six months’ of your current salary put aside in case you lose your job.
For most of us, this is a huge amount of money to have to start building up. It cannot be achieved by simply trying to keep some money aside every month from your disposable income. Instead you might think about opening a savings account with a high interest rate to earn money back on the cash you invest, hopefully helping you amass this kind of emergency fund much quicker.
Although it may go against the grain when it comes to personal growth, personal finance may be an area in which it pays to be a pessimist. At least, by planning for the worst you can hope for the best.
Mark Hooson is a journalist who currently writes about financial issues, including savings accounts, credit and debt at Moneysupermarket.com.
Photo by Andres Rueda