Big expenses come up every few years. Most of us consider these expenses unexpected mainly because we have not planned for them. The cost of a new refrigerator, a new motor or a new car can topple even the best planned budget. The number one way to save money on these big items (and salvage that budget) is to plan ahead.

Step One: Figure up the cost of the new item if you had to purchase it today – use monthly payments as your basis. Start setting aside the payment each month now so that when the need comes up you will have a lump sum to work with for your purchase.

Step Two: Watch for the sales that come up throughout the year for those items that you need or will soon need. The end of the season, just after or before big holidays and anniversary sales can be the best opportunities to discover the deal that you need. Use the money that you have saved up to make an even better deal on the sales items that you need.

Step Three: Ask to talk to a manager. Once you decide on the item that you want to purchase you need to talk to someone with authority to negotiate the best price. Managers normally have the ability to offer special deals or incentives particularly when it comes to a cash purchase.

Step Four: Shop around to find the best deal. Make a list of all the qualities you want in an item (the internet can be the best way to discover customer reviews and suggestions). Take your list to the stores. Ask if the store will honor or beat prices from other stores in the area. The little time and effort you spend looking around can translate into saving big money on the items that you need.

Step Five: Be willing to walk away from the deal. Starting to shop before the want becomes a must will give you the freedom to walk away from the sale if the negotiations do not go your way. Even when you are in a situation where you must purchase, do not be afraid to walk away and find a better deal down the road. A high pressure salesperson never has your best interest at heart. Find someone to work with that is more concerned with the customer than the commission.

Big items can be budget breakers when you do not plan ahead for their expense. Those big items do not have to knock your finances off balance. A little planning, a little savings and a little investment of your time can help you save money on the big items that you need to purchase.

Written by Peter “Van The VA Man” Brady who is A Veteran’s Administration Home Loan specialist based in Southern California who helps veterans get VA home loans and VA IRRRLs.