I have heard of a case where an owner sued the condo Board for using Association funds to purchase flowers for the funeral of an owner's spouse--and won. The expense wasn't in the Association budget, nor was it necessary for the repair, operation or maintenance of the building. That $40.00 bouquet cost the Association a lot of time and money. This is why it is important to remember that Association funds belong to everyone, and that they are not to be used by the Board or any owner except as prescribed in the governing documents.
Ideally, no purchases should be made before first being approved by the Board at a Board meeting. The Board should be reviewing its budget and current financials before approving any non-recurring expense to ensure that the funds are available and that the expense is legitimately an Association expense. Expenses should be reviewed for legitimacy and further, small buildings on tight budgets need to keep a close eye on spending. Even small purchases add up over the course of the year and can ultimately throw your Association way off budget.
Approving expenses at a Board meeting also ensures that the expense is recorded in meeting minutes. This establishes a record of the approved expense should any owner wish to contest a purchase. If an expense is approved by the Board anywhere outside of a Board meeting, it should be recorded in the minutes of the next Board meeting.