4 pesky expenses: be prepared

By Megg Mueller

Everyone knows to save for retirement, education, weddings and home purchases. But many of us don't save for some things that are almost as likely, if not more so. Consider setting up a savings account for some of these less-popular spending necessities:

1. Death

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average funeral cost in 2009 was $6,560.That's no small chunk of change. But did you know funeral homes are required to give you a price list of all products and services? According to the Federal Trade Commission, this is just one of the protections offered to consumers who are often under great emotional strain when making potentially expensive funeral decisions. Best advice? Plan early. When faced with decisions such as casket styles, the cost can run the gamut from $2,000 to $10,000 and people can feel rushed into a decision. Even though it's a hard subject to broach, being calm and unhurried can save you plenty.

2. Taxes

Taxes are another fact of life, and while we know we should be prepared few of us are at tax time. Think otherwise? George Washington University notes that in 2011, individuals owed $258 billion in tax debt. If you generally have to pay on April 15, there are only two options: Adjust your withholdings so more money is taken from your paychecks, or start saving so you have enough to cover your shortfall at tax time. Some believe saving is the best option, because otherwise you're lending money to the government and not getting any interest.

3. Major home repairs

At some point, most homeowner need to address leaky faucets, window drafts, painting and more. Those small items are nuisances but what happens when a pipe bursts, the roof starts to leak or fire strikes? While homeowner's insurance should help in many cases, the reality is deductibles and hidden costs add up quickly. There are steps you can take to avoid costly home repairs, but some things are unavoidable. The government's lending manager Freddie Mac advises if you know your home will need a new roof, driveway or other costly repair in a few years, get started on a savings plan today.

4. Unemployment

Few of us ever plan to be separated from our jobs, but economic uncertainty can put even the most stable employee out of work. This is where the all-encompassing emergency fund comes into play. Set up a standard saving account or other readily available account like a no-penalty CD. While it's hard to save for a rainy day sometimes, the easiest way is to have an automatic deposit made every pay period. If you don't see it, you may be less likely to want to spend it.

Make sure you have a solid definition for what constitutes an emergency so you're not dipping into your accounts for regular purchases, such as routine expected expenses or major impulse purchases that "feel" like an emergency but aren't really, such as a great deal on a new TV.