What Unexpected Expense Hurt You The Most Financially? 


Life is full of emergencies, big and small. Emergency funds are meant to protect us financially in these events, but we don’t always have enough to cover them or perhaps we didn’t foresee a money-draining event happening to us. What event surprised you that cost you a lot?

Photo by Dan Moyle.

Neal Gabler writes in The Atlantic how, despite being a successful writer with a middle-class income, he’s living paycheck to paycheck. Gabler shares that, for him, much of this was due to his choices (choosing to live in New York, for example, and having children), but other things, such as getting sued by a publisher and losing a job, were less about choice. “But the problem with finances is that life doesn’t cooperate,” Gabler writes.

Unexpected expenses, by their very nature, are hard to plan for. Maybe it’s finding out that your health insurance wouldn’t cover 100% of a necessary procedure or maybe it’s a divorce you didn’t see coming. What event threw you (and your bank account) by surprise?

The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans [The Atlantic]


  • While purchasing a new house, we had come to the point where almost everything was sorted and we were pending final approval from our bank. Due to the nature of the purchase, the bank needed to get a valuation done to check it’s value. We had done our due diligence and researched it thoroughly, but the valuation came back 30k less than the price we paid. This basically threw our 80% Loan:Value ratio out the window and meant we needed to fork out more than we had budgeted to get back into that range. Had to skimp and save quite a bit to restore our bank balance over the following months (credit cards were actually quite useful here, allowing temporary debt until our pay came in).

  • Chronic illnesses blindsided me…. I had a house, shares, and a good job, even income protection insurance. When I fell ill, I kept thinking “Ill get better soon”, but it didn’t happen. Being unable to work meant I had to liquidate my assets, and use the funds for living expenses. The income protection insurance wasn’t worth the paper it was written on (they used any excuse they could find to reject my claim), which left me in a situation where I had limited funds running out very quickly. Now my savings are gone, Im on unemployment payments and living week to week, with no prospect of returning to work, and I am renting a room from a friend who was kind enough to take me in.

    • Ouch. When you get a Christmas card from a professional, you know that you’ve poured in some serious cash.

  • dodgy advice from a financial adviser.
    long story short, told us our investment property costs would offset our capital gains tax from a property subdivision.
    2014-2015 tax time – my wife and i owed 10k each, this 2015 to 2016 – i got back 6.5k, but that all went straight against my previous years debt.

    still hurts like a bitch when my wife cant work to help out with the bills.

  • Having someone hurt me (after I begged them to stop, they continued) in a way that my mobiity was basically destroyed for a month and a year later is still impaired to not allow stiar climbing or long walks.

    When you’re alone in life due to poor genes (family all died off young + don’t have the looks to get a spouse) and don’t have the wealth to attract a hanger-on regardless of that, stuff gets difficult really fast when you cannot get around. Suddenly you can no longer safely live in your walk-up because you can’t walk-up. You can’t walk half a block to the convenience shop next to the hotel you’re paying to live in (because you can’t find another place safe and close to the transport you require to get to work, you have to stay in a non-walk-up hotel and those are NOT inexpensive in Sydney), and have to take a taxi instead, so that your $1 bottle of Woolies fizzy water costs $6 (convenience store price) + $7 taxi fare for half a block.

    You’re evicted when you ask for accommodations related to your injury, and you’re not in a position to property hunt when you can’t walk, so ka-ching you have to pay a removalist and ka-ching everything goes into storage at a price higher than you were paying for rent.

    For months, any time you need to do anything, even so much as walking to the train 1.5 blocks away, you have to hire a taxi. Sydney’s got plenty of one way streets. That 1.5 block walk is a 7.5 block $18 taxi ride on the way home.

    And so on.

    All up, not counting the increase in my rent due to having to go for an accessible unit rather than a cheap walk-up, the hit to my budget has been wildly in exess of $30K. It took most of my home savings so far + destroyed my ability to save for a home in the future. (The phrase “wrecked my life all but totally” applies.)

    And I can’t even say, “to avoid this, don’t let anyone hurt you,” because that’s as outside of your control as being the victim of violence was outside of mine.

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