The Difference Between “Emergencies” and “Extras”

What constitutes an emergency? What does “extras” mean? These can be tricky questions to answer, so let’s look at the definition of each.

 Emergency: An emergency is an unexpected expense that could not possibly have ever been planned.

Examples: Car breakdown, house repair, medical bills, vet bills, etc. Real, true, unexpected emergencies.

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Extras: These are expenses that don’t fall into a specific category in your budget, don’t recur monthly, and can be somewhat planned.

Examples: Gifts, bridesmaid expenses, travel expenses, etc. Random, somewhat predictable, non-repeat monthly expenses.


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There are two different ways that I can see someone dealing with these “extras”. You have to be either a person who:

1. Has money left over to pay toward debt or put toward savings at the end of the month.


2. Only has enough to pay for their budgeted expenses with very little to nothing left at the end of the month.

 If you’re person #1: You can pay for your “extras” with the leftover money at the end of the month that you would normally put toward savings or debt. REMEMBER: Don’t live outside of your means. Your “extras” MUST be able to be covered by CASH aka the money in your bank account. If you’re really trying to pay off debt or save, try to minimize spending in your “extras” column.

 If you’re person #2: You most likely cannot pay for “extras” as they arrive. I recommend increasing your “emergency fund” to $2,000 or $3,000. This means $1,000 is ONLY FOR EMERGENCIES. $1,000-$2,000 are for the “extras” that arrive throughout the year.

TIP: Even better, sit down and calculate how many weddings you’re going to, places you’re visiting, and gifts you may be buying over the entire year to get an idea of how much you should have in your “extras” fund. #1 type people can also use this method, but I prefer to minimize my “extras” spending and pay for them as I go. I find that I actually spend less knowing I don’t really have the money for it (because it’s all accounted for in my monthly goal of a minimum of $900 toward debt per month).

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How to save for “extras”:This is totally up to you.

1. If you want to pour every extra cent into your emergency/extras fund until you’ve saved up your desired amount, go for it.

2. You can also stagger your payments toward your emergency/extras fund so that the money is there when you need it, but it doesn’t take you most of the year to get there.


Over the past year, I’ve been to a few weddings, New Years with grad school friends, and a Canadian vacation with college friends. When you plan ahead, you CAN have everything…just not all at once.

Hopefully you’re all avoiding emergencies and minimizing “extras”, but if not, you have a plan and you’re moving toward success!

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