8 Costs that Can Sneak Up on Your & How to Be Prepared

Sep 27, 2018Reading Time: 7 min

Unexpected costs can really drain you financially. Not surprisingly, having an emergency fund is a great idea. Often times, people aren't sure how much to put in it or how much some emergency costs even run. With a look at a few surprise emergency costs, their maintenance costs, and alternative costs, you can prepare financially and stay ahead of any issues.

Furnace Repair

1. Furnace Repair

A broken furnace can really send a chill down your spine, quite literally. With a cold house, especially in places that have frigid falls and winters, you do not want to experience a broken furnace. National repair costs for a broken furnace were around $270 but most repairs range between $160-$400 according to These prices are simply for repair and one should consider that a furnace may not be under warranty and the homeowners may be responsible for the service fee. Additionally, you may need to buy a new furnace if it can't be repaired, and especially if it is an older model.

Tips to Avoid: You can do a few things to avoid a furnace emergency such as changing filters, repairing the mechanical system, checking for leaks, and even taking note of any strange noises. An annual tune up is recommended and should cost around $100 not including filters. Additionally, cleaning ducts and vents as well as checking pipes for leaks, are things that can be done regularly by the homeowner.

Alternative: If you find that you still have to repair a furnace, use an electric blanket or space heater to keep warm in the meantime.

Burst Pipe

2. Burst Pipe

A burst pipe can occur for several reasons and cause a lot of damage to the home depending on its location. Plumbing fees normally range between $175 and $450 for an average job, with $300 being the most common fee. However, it can be difficult to nail down a solid average because plumbing fees are increased with the amount of labor required and can be billed hourly. According to a rate given by Home Advisor, these hourly rates usually range between $45 - $200 an hour.

Tips to Avoid: To avoid burst pipes, be sure to check them regularly. Leaky pipes are decidedly cheaper to repair and usually cost an average of $150-$300.

Alternative: If you don't take regular care of your plumbing and your water has to be turned off to fix a burst pipe, you run the risk of having to stay at a hotel. If you have any family nearby, you can also stay with them as a temporary, cost-effective solution.

Alternator Failure

3. Alternator Failure

The alternator is an extremely important component of a car as it regulates the entire electrical system. It is also subject to bearing the most loads as it basically powers: the radio, wifi, heat, air conditioning, recharges the battery, and much more. Repairs can often fall between $300-$700 or higher depending on the make, model, and year of the car. Generally, the newer the car and the more high-end, the higher the cost for parts and labor.

Tips to Avoid: To avoid a sudden issue with a dead alternator, look for signs of a slowly dying alternator. While you'll still have to replace it, you can be more financially prepared. Dimming lights, slow-moving electronics, a check engine light that is turned on, weird noises, and odd smells are all indicative of alternator problems.

Alternative: If your alternator still dies and you have to commute or get around town, use Uber or Lyft. If you live in an urban area and only have to travel a few blocks, you can even use a Byrd. If you're in need of food delivery, try GrubHub for take-out food, or grocery shopping services that will last you the whole week.

Tire Replacement

4. Tire Replacement

You might need new tires for a variety of reasons such as a slow leak, an embedded nail, or bad weather. Tire prices largely depend on the type of the tire needed and the type of vehicle that you're shopping for. For a car that needs a standard tire, you can expect prices to range from $100-$200. However, it's important to keep in mind that this is an average estimate, and if a vehicle is more high-end, it will need a more expensive tire. This also applies to size and specialty tires, which will cost more than standard tires.

Tips to Avoid: Avoiding a tire replacement can be tricky, but you can help by keeping an eye on your tire treads. If they begin to wear thin, you know that you will need to purchase new tires soon.

Alternative: If it's impossible for a tire replacement to be avoided, and your car is out of commission, try using a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft as affordable alternatives.

Major Sickness

5. Major Sickness

Visiting an emergency room can rack up quite a big bill. If the hospital or doctor is out of network, you can be on the hook for quite a hefty sum. The Health Care Cost Institute presented findings that show the average cost of an ER visit was $1,917 in 2016 alone. These findings also state that a doctors visit with insurance could still range between $50-$150.

Tips to Avoid: Know which hospital is in your network. However, it is hard to know which provider is out of network so if you can look up the ER doctors at your preferred hospital ahead of time that could be a possible idea.

Alternative: Visiting urgent care may be a more cost-effective solution. Using a tele-medicine service as a preliminary measure can also be a great idea to avoid the hospital if possible.

Job Loss

6. Job Loss

While the cost of job loss does vary for each person based on living expenses and bills, the general rule of thumb is to have enough for three to six months of income, according to the VP of Communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling told the Chicago Tribune.

Tips to Avoid: To avoid falling on hard times, put away at least a small sum each month to prepare for the worst.

Alternative: If you find that you still do not have enough, visit temporary assistance jobs, use online search and career engines or try your hand at side jobs.

Emergency Travel

7. Emergency Travel

Many people have been subject to having to travel home to family or relatives in an emergency. It is important to save enough for travel in this case. With average airfares ranging between $340-$363 for domestic flights but up to a little over $500 on average for corporate flights.

Tips to Avoid: It is important to continually save in an emergency fund as well as checking for airfare deals.

Alternative: You can also try other means of travel such as bus and train, if you have a small bit of extra time to travel.

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8. Technological Issues

Sometimes our technology malfunctions for whatever reason, or we break it accidentally. Either way, with technology being such a big part of our lives, it's imperative that we get it working as soon as possible. Fixing a phone or computer can be around $250 for even the smallest issue, and this even includes insurance!

Tips to Avoid: Use a phone cover, laptop cover, and any other protective method that is available to you. You can also insure your electronics and tech to avoid paying high replacement fees.

Alternatives: If you can't afford traditional phone covers you can use online coupon codes to unlock an amazing deal when online shopping. One coupon site you should check out is, which offers discounts and deals on providers such as Caseable, HP, Best Buy, and more.