Unexpected Expenses, Sinking Funds, & Crappy Shoes


I knew it was bound to happen sometime, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be as early as the second week of January! We have had our first unexpected expense of 2016.

unexpected expenses, sinking funds, and crappy shoes

Despite my grand plans for financial success in 2016, we were going to need to pull out the credit cards yet again, this time to replace cheap, worn-out shoes.

While he was at work, my husband texted me this lovely picture of his shoes.

our first unexpected expense of 2016

Yes, they ended up in the trash later that evening.

My husband’s profession is very hard on shoes, so this is an expense we need to anticipate coming up over and over again. He dresses up for work daily (so we are talking dress shoes here, not work boots or sneakers) and is on his feet all day on hard floors.

No more crappy shoes!

In the past, we have bought most of my husband’s work shoes at Kohl’s and they have been in the $40-$60 range depending on sales. They have not been good quality, and don’t seem to last very long. I’m sick of replacing them so frequently!

I did a little research online in an attempt to figure out which shoes brands were better quality and might last us longer. I found an article from Business Insider that was really helpful but had the intimidating title “The Best Men’s Dress Shoes for Under $350.”

Under $350?

Gosh, I hope so! WAY under!

From this list I noted Aldo, Kenneth Cole and Hugo Boss as some of the “cheaper” options, and brands I had seen in stores in our area. I shared the article with my husband and asked him to keep it in mind as he shopped. We are strapped financially, but we also need to ‘invest’ in better quality.

We don’t always agree on our financial plans, so I worried about how this unexpected expense would impact our already tense financial situation. I’m proud of my husband for taking a few days to make a decision on which shoes to buy and checking a few different stores (plus online merchants like Zappo’s).

My husband ended up purchasing two pairs of Aldo shoes for approximately $190. Two pairs because he needs both a brown and black pair of shoes for work. His old black pair were completely done and ended up in the trash earlier this week, and the old brown pair were inching closer to the same fate and would need to be replaced soon anyways.

Why no tattered shoes?

You might have read about my tattered boots, and wonder why my husband is getting new shoes but I’m not. In his line of work, appearance is very important, for two reasons. First, he needs to feel good about himself so he can put his best foot forward (pun intended) and keep his confidence high (he is in sales). Second, he sells high end products to customers with high incomes, so busted shoes would stick out like a sore thumb! My tattered boots are perfectly fine for running to the grocery store with two little ones in tow.

Is it really unexpected?

Of course, this unexpected expense really wasn’t unexpected was it? We know how my husband needs to dress for work and should anticipate this cost. It was an unwanted expense at this moment in time. It was an unprepared expense because that category of our budget (I like to use sinking funds for things like clothes and haircuts) was not yet funded. And because of our tough financial situation, I had only budgeted $35 for our clothing fund for January, so this purchase was made on credit which adds to our debt.

How can we keep this from happening again?

This was our first unexpected expense of the year, but it certainly won’t be our last! We need to stick to the financial fitness plan for 2016, reduce our debt, reduce our spending, and increase our income. In the future, our improved budget needs to have a more accurate clothing category that is fully funded so the money is there when we need it. A solid budget should have many sinking funds to cover all of these expenses that will inevitably crop up.

Do you use sinking funds?

If you’re interested in learning more about sinking funds and working them into your budget, I gathered some information for you:

Stop the Panic With a Sinking Fund 

Top Sinking Funds Everyone Should Have

Sinking Funds: How Planning Ahead Saves You Money

Sink Your Debt With a Sinking Fund

What items do you spend more money on for the sake of quality?

(Stay at home yogi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com)

Feautured on Frugal Friday!

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  1. You know, I had heard of a sinking fund until the other day when my friend mentioned he had one. Now you’re writing about it! Maybe I should start my own.

    Sorry those shoes set you back, but you can always look at it as an investment in his career – something necessary to move up!

  2. Men’s shoes are expensive. My husband came home one-day and said “honey don’t be mad but I purchased some dress shoes”. I’m thinking it couldn’t be that bad, but when he told me the price my eyes got big. I was so clueless on how much men’s shoes cost.

    But it’s good that your huband got a good pair of shoes. They will last longer like you said. And it will make him feel better.

  3. Ouch! Good shoes can be expensive, but I know they usually last longer and fit more comfortably, so can be a better value on a per wear basis. I love the sinking fund idea, though. Smart!
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Surveillance Surprise: Proof #76,857 that Someone is WatchingMy Profile

  4. It sucks when the unexpected expense creeps up on you but I’d say you found a great deal for two pairs of dress shoes. This is how it always works out for us too since we are bad about anticipating when things might need replacing. It is a definite learning curve this financial fitness.

  5. I love your point about expenses being unwanted and unprepared for, but not really unexpected. That describes many purchases in the past for us!

    We learned the lesson about how spending less on items that we use regularly actually costs a lot more in the end. I used to have to buy a new set of snow boots for each kid every single winter. Last year I invested in quality boots for each kid, and not only did they last but I think we’ll be able to hand them down to the next kid! It was pricey at first, but in the long run, we’re talking some serious savings for 5 kids.

    Hopefully your husband’s shoes will last a good long time now and you’ll have plenty of time to set up that sinking fund. Good luck!
    Jamie @ Medium Sized Family recently posted…5 Ways We’ve Saved Money This Week 18My Profile

    • That’s an excellent tip for anyone with kids Jamie! Now that I have two boys, I am even more careful with how I take care of kids items and I’m always thinking that I’ll get double use out of what I buy.

  6. Is there another category of the budget that could absorb this?

    • Hi Kristy! Normally, yes, but our financial situation is dire at the moment, with more month than money. We are trying extra hard to come in under budget in major categories like groceries, but probably won’t be $190 under.

  7. This is the thing about cheap shoes, they just don’t last. I have several pairs that are falling to bits myself! I can understand why your husband would need to spend a little more if he needs to look presentable for his work.
    Hayley @ Disease Called Debt recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #125My Profile

  8. After buying my first Macbook, I’ve been converted to their worth. My PCs used to only last two years or so before dying, but I had my last Macbook for 6 years. It worked out to be cheaper than what I spent on computers in the 6 years before that.
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays #125My Profile

  9. Great points and you know what, no one can knock you for buy something that is of quality. My husband bought a pair of Cole Hann shoes once and less that a year later the tore at the seams. We took them back to the Cole Hann store and they said they would repair them and send them back to us. There were $350 shoes mind you but clearly come with added value. Well made, comfortable, repair service and they’re going on their second year. Myself on the other hand purchased $40 boots that are now two years old, I had to purchase Dr Scholl’s heels for them because they had zero support, the fake leather coating is peeling and they are starting to sag and fall apart. I could have spent $200 and had a classy pair of boots that could last over 5 years. Quality is an investment.
    Mrs Lewis recently posted…$ave Dat Money- Caution Explicit ContentMy Profile

    • That’s awesome that Cole Haan repaired the shoes! I know a few other companies that stand behind their products like that (Land’s End comes to mind).

  10. I had a similar lesson about shoes and quality. I used to buy my heels at Target and they didn’t last long at all before they were falling apart! It went against my usual frugal mindset to buy something that cost MORE, but it saved me money in the long run to invest in good shoes. Thanks for sharing in the Small Victories Sunday Linkup!
    Heather @ Simply Save recently posted…Small Victories Sunday Linkup {85}My Profile

  11. Quality is extremely important, and with good quality….look around for shoe repair shops. I had never used one before , but in 2002, I purchased some boots on clearance for about $100. Regular price they were $250. I wore them for awhile, but brought them out recently. The sole was messed up and was coming apart at the toe,…like unglued. I repaired it for $16. and now, I have them again for this season. #smallvictories

  12. I love the honesty of this post. Thanks for sharing on Meetup Monday!
    Christine recently posted…My 2016 Reading Challenge (AKA Let’s Be Friends on Goodreads)My Profile

  13. Great post! Sometimes it stinks to have to shell out money for unexpected expenses but I agree that it’s best to spend a little more for quality products that will last! Thanks so much for sharing at Share The Wealth Sunday! xoxo

  14. Truthfully I have never heard of sinking fund. We do try to keep money set aside for emergcy like unexpected car repairs or home repairs.
    Rebecca Bryant recently posted…Wordless Wednesday #JungleBook #DisneyMy Profile

  15. We always spend more on quality shoes then we do some other things. Especially for our kids feet. I know we can get cheaper ones, however, since their feet are still growing we want to give them a solid foundation.

    We try to get them on sale, however, that isn’t always doable. The bonus right now is that my teenager is wearing the same size shoes that I do. So when I find a pair I like, that I think she will like, I buy them. That way it’s two for the price of one.

    We’ve had a few unexpected things pop up. Like the bearings going out in the washer (5 yrs old and for the second time).

    Unfortunately sometimes that happens, but it’s always good to have a little cushion somewhere and if worse comes to worse, throw it on a low interest credit card.

  16. I actually was not aware of the sinking fund but I’m going to read up on it now. I agree that shoes are not an unexpected expense. My hubby wears dress clothes to work also. We plan one shopping trip each year for a few new shirts and maybe one or two pair of slacks. He ‘invests’ in those good shoes but we buy them at outlet shopping centers. When the soles become worn, he takes them to the shoe repair and has them re-soled.
    Shirley Wood recently posted…No Fuss Romantic Italian Dinner Menu And Easy Italian Butter RecipeMy Profile

    • Outlet shopping is a good idea Shirley! Where does your husband like to get his clothes? We try to hit the big sales at JosABank!

  17. Doesn’t it always seem like when you have plans to get ahead something unexpected happens! And I agree $350 is insane for shoes! lol
    Ashley @irishred02 recently posted…Disney On Ice Presents Treasure Trove!My Profile

  18. I totally agree that buying better quality shoes pays off in the long run. My husband is very hard on shoes and we learned our lesson about buying the cheaper brands.
    Jennifer B recently posted…Earn Cash For Your School With Winn-Dixie eBoxTopsMy Profile

  19. Unexpected expenses during January are rough. But I applaud your decision to spend wisely. Yes expensive shoes are a hard pill to swallow but it could save money over the long run. One good pair of shoes lasting twice as long will hopefully save over time. Plus, maybe those nice shoes will give your husband a boost of confidence to make a big sale. Chin up and stay on track.

  20. Just think of all the things that one pair of shoes made you think about lol I think that when budgeting, things come up to help us tweak and fine tune our financial plans.
    Tina recently posted…Now Is the Time to Restock the Linen Closet Super Discounts AwaitMy Profile

  21. It’s a really hard one to judge. Do you buy something cheaper and replace it more often or do you buy something which is better quality that costs more but will last way longer. I’m generally in the second camp, but it does depend. Sometimes you don’t know until you’ve tried both options though. Hope the rest of January is better for you and there’s no other unexpected costs.

    Sally @ Life Loving
    Life Loving recently posted…Harry Potter Studio TourMy Profile

  22. Erin, I almost hate to answer this, I’m typing and knocking on wood at the same time! Stuff happens, all the time, and it seems that there is always a lesson here, now you will have sinking funds planned and your husband will make a bajillion sales with his snazzy new shoes! Learn from it and move on, it looks like you have, but this is such an important lesson for all of us! We need to prepare and take everything into consideration. Hopefully you won’t have to do this for another year. I love seeing your journey, it helps me on ours! xxxx
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…Top Posts of 2015 View From In HereMy Profile

    • Thanks Nikki! 🙂 Would you believe my husband actually got a promotion and a raise the first day he wore those snazzy shoes to work? 🙂

  23. I love real-life stories of people handling their finances and the decisions they’ve had to make. We have all been there and will be again. Thanks for linking up at Frugal Friday! 🙂

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