Taken by Surprise: 5 Strategies to Cope with Unexpected Large Expenses (French version available)
These days, it seems the essentials all come with a high price tag: education, living expenses, food, transportation, and more. This is especially true when you live in a major city like Calgary, Vancouver, or Toronto. Expect to shell out tons of money on groceries, meals, rent, and gas (if traveling via personal car).
It’s incredibly stressful when an unexpected expense comes like your laptop crashing and needing replacement equipment, or your landlord increasing the monthly rent without notice. While such situations are likely to put a downer on your mood, know that these types of setbacks are only temporary. With the right attitude and effort, you’ll be able to handle this adversity and be in a stable financial position in no time.
- Apply for a loan.
Taking out a loan does mean that you’ll have debt and that has, in itself, its drawback. However, there are different types of loans, and it’s merely a matter of taking your time to decide on the right one that best fits your needs. For larger expenses, obtaining a loan from a bank is the best way to go, though you’d need to have a good credit score to get approved. Meanwhile, you can also try your hand at a payday loan, which is an option if you want something quick and easy. The amount of payday loans are typically equivalent to a paycheck, thus the name, so it may not be ideal when you have a high-ticket item in mind.
- Ask your employer for a pay-in-advance.
If you have a good working relationship with your employer and you consider yourself a valuable employee, this option can be a good one for you. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Most employers will be familiar with this concept when employees ask to be paid in advance for the future hours they’re scheduled to work, but only a few may be agreeable to it. Some employers fear that employees will up and leave and not fulfill their part of the deal once they receive the advanced pay. Thus, it helps to have a stellar record with your employer.
- Defer from school or enroll at a community college.
Tuition fees most likely make up the bulk of your expenses, and it will be extremely difficult to entertain the thought of putting your studies on pause until your finances become steadier. An alternative to putting your education on hold is to enroll at a community college instead to get transferrable credits or fulfill the requirements for general education classes. While this may be a bit of a detour to your educational path, it’s definitely a smarter option than putting your studies to a full stop.
- Look ahead and apply for scholarships and bursaries.
Scholarship or bursary applications take time and thus this may not be the option you need at the moment. However, it helps in long-term budget planning. In case a similar situation crops up again, you’ll be better prepared. Take time to carefully go through each requirement for the scholarship or bursary. Reach out to your teachers and give them a heads up about writing recommendation letters for you. Being approved for these applications can go a long way in keeping your educational expenses to a minimum.
- Be smarter with your money.
Take a step back and do a self-assessment to know how you can better prevent being in a similar predicament in the future. You may be able to get the funds you need to cover the emergency expense now, but you’ll need to start thinking how to be better equipped in a similar scenario. Apart from having a working budget that covers your daily spending needs, have an emergency fund. Commit yourself to starting a savings plan by cutting unnecessary expenses as much as you can and limit your spending by going for economical options.
Handling an emergency expense gracefully is admirable, but going forward, it’s better to make an effort to avoid falling into the same trap again.
Bright. “How to deal with unexpected expenses.” https://www.brightmoney.co/learn/unexpected-expenses-and-how-to-deal-with-it.
Honestmoney.ca. “Real Talk: How to deal with unexpected expenses.” https://honestmoney.ca/stories/how-to-deal-with-unexpected-expenses.
Vohwinkle, Jeremy. “How to Deal With a Financial Emergency.” The Balance. https://www.thebalance.com/coping-financial-emergency-1289712.