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The Emergency Fund Has Taken a Hit

Well the past couple of months have been shaping up to be costly ones in the Eyes on the Dollar house. You roll along doing pretty well, then it seems like the wheels fall off. Unexpected expenses pop up when you least expect them. Depending on how well you are prepared, they can be a minor bump in the road, or they can derail you altogether. How do you recover when the emergency fund has taken a hit?

Stupidity Costs Money

I like to think I’m a pretty good driver. Other than the minor incident involving my car and a pole at the bank, we have been accident and ticket free for many years, until last month anyway.

I was on my way into town on the route I’ve driven hundreds of times. There was construction and a short detour. Normally, I have to drive through a school zone to get to work. There is a big flashing sign that says the speed limit is 15mph. I think school zones should be protected with low speed limits, so that is fine by me.  However, the detour spit me out on a side street, so I didn’t go past the flashing sign. Although somewhere deep in my brain I knew I was still in the school zone, not seeing the sign, I spaced out and didn’t slow to the required 15 mph. Sirens and flashing lights reminded me of this. Crap. Cost $101

The following week, I was working in Telluride. Parking is a bit of a challenge. I have a scheme where I move my car three times during the day because there are limits as to how long you can park in each area. I spaced moving it for the last hour of the work day and received the gift of a parking ticket for the first time since college. Crap. Cost $20

Two weeks ago, I was again driving in to work on the same route. No construction that day, but I still saw the sirens and lights in my back window. Apparently I was driving 59mph in a 40mph zone. I wasn’t even late, just zoned out thinking of other things. Crap. Cost $167

This past week I got a text from Jim that read, “My turn backed into a car!” He was parked at the school to pick up our daughter. The school pickup zone is a mess. There aren’t enough parking spots for all the cars. As a result, people park anywhere they can find. Jim was in a space, but a car stopped in the road right behind him. It’s hard to see directly behind our truck because of the camper shell, and who would think a car would park in the road? Anyway he backed right  into the car, and it was considered his fault. We didn’t have any damage to our truck, but the quarter panel on the car has a big dent. From experience with the bank pole, I know this will probably be a $2000 plus repair. Triple crap! Cost $1000 insurance deductible

I don’t think we were blatantly disregarding traffic laws in any of these cases, but all of them could have been prevented if we had paid a little more attention. As a result, we are probably pretty popular with the local municipalities at this point.

What Else is Going to Break?

We got a couple more fun surprises this week. Jim tried to use the lawn mower to get rid of the last of the stray leaves, but it wouldn’t start, and one of the tires is flat and won’t hold air. We have a 3 acre property. It isn’t all grass, but we certainly prefer a riding mower, and they aren’t cheap. Ours is 10 years old, and it has been used heavily. It is at the repair shop right now, and we are waiting for the verdict to see if it’s worthwhile to fix it or if we have to get a new one. We technically won’t need one until next spring, but now is a great time to get a discount if we do have to buy.

Later that same day, the washer died. Again, we have the debate of whether to fix it our get a new one. A service call is $75, whether they fix anything or not. Appliance repair is another job I should add to the list of ways to earn extra income! I did schedule the repair man. Hopefully, it will be something simple, and we won’t have to get a new one.

It makes me wonder if we’re done or if something else is going to break. We’ve been in our house ten years. What is the lifespan on appliances? It seems my Mom has had her non-fancy washer and dryer for 20 years, but our newer, fancier stuff doesn’t seem likely to make it that long. Oh, the good old days of quality made products!

Thank Goodness for an Emergency Fund!

I am so thankful that we’ve had this run of expenses now instead of while we were paying off our credit card debt. Having months with a few thousand dollars of expenses are certainly enough to throw off a debt repayment plan or throw you into debt if you are living close to the edge with no savings.

I don’t know what the right number for an emergency fund is. I think it depends on your expenses and should certainly be more if you own a home or have a high medical deductible. We probably have too much in our emergency fund right now, but at least for this month, that’s a good problem to have!

Broken any appliances or traffic laws this month?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

25 comments

  1. Sorry to hear about your misfortune this month. I’ve had no repairs needed this month (or traffic tickets, thankfully) *knock on wood*. It’s almost strange NOT to have extra unexpected expenses because we’ve had so many since buying a house.

  2. Geez Kim!

    Yeah, we definitely have times where a bunch of little expenses add up. That’s exactly why we have an emergency fund. =/

  3. I’ve always heard that car accidents happen in threes, so maybe you’re finished for now? That really stinks though. I had a similar “accident” one time where a guy parked randomly in a parking lot under a tree (not in a parking space) and I backed into him, not thinking to look behind me where the bushes were…. made me so mad that it was my fault, but those are the rules!

  4. Ouch! That is really a perfect storm 🙁 If you haven’t already paid your speeding tickets, try contesting one or both of them if you have a decent argument. (I use the laugh test: If you can make the argument without laughing, it’s reasonable enough to say in court!) Depending on your state’s traffic laws, your insurance might go up if you have 2 tickets on your record. Our state gives you one free pass, so when my spouse got 2 tickets in 3 days, we contested one of them so our premium wouldn’t go up. It was also a little worse than a speeding ticket, it was for failure to move over on the highway, so it had more points associated with it.

  5. When it rains it pours. Sometimes it pours into your house as it did for us. Add that to a plumbing leak that ruined wooden floors and EF just shrinks and shrinks. We just paid off the last of these repairs. Here’s hoping for a very boring home improvement winter.

  6. Ugh! It has been an insanely spendy month for us, too. Though luckily the appliances are functioning and when I got pulled over recently I got a warning and not a ticket. Good thing, too since the ticket is over $300!!!

  7. you didn’t say whether your washer is a top or front loader. A dad on my daughter’s soccer team was a repairman and he said to never buy a front loader because they only last about 7 years and a top loader (which your mom probably has) last twice as long. Just something to think about if you have to replace it. I didn’t know that before he said something.

  8. Ouch, sorry about that Kim. We had similar issues a few months ago when our fridge, dishwasher and something else I can’t remember all crapped out on us. Thankfully it wasn’t too expensive, but thankful for our EF none the less.

  9. Awe crap!!! I think we all have those “when it rains it pours” moments. Sorry that all that happened. My financial rock bottom moment came when my car was towed. After that I vowed to watch my parking like a hawk because it’s easy to get parking tickets around here. My New Year’s resolution was to not get any this year and I’m almost there. Right now things are going smoothly, but it’s hard not to be a little paranoid that something may happen to derail me financially. I have an emergency fund, but I hate using it.

  10. Yes, my emergency fund has saved me numerous times, so I am a big believer of them on a personal level and not just because I drank the financial advisor kool aid. 🙂 Sorry to hear all your troubles. I have been known to get a speeding ticket or two. Not proud of it because it’s a money waster and something that could have been avoided. But I must say – your speeding and parking tickets are cheaper. So I guess that’s another item to add t the we pay more for in California! LOL! Glad you have an emergency fund to cover these costs.

  11. We have a tight parking spot and when my wife opened the door, it made a small dent on the car next to me. I apologize to him and told him I’d pay for the repair. It was a very small dent, but it cost $250! Good thing I have an emergency fund.

  12. When it rains it pours, right Kim? I had a similar month a little while back where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
    Like you, we had an emergency fund in place at the time, but without it- we would be up the creek.

  13. I hope the bad luck strike is over! I had a few expensive repairs on my UK rentals, looks like the heating system is too small for the property but it is built underground so virtually impossible to upgrade, and the whole building runs the same system so you can’t do your own thing. It is just annoying to keep paying for repairs year after year and see it break yet again.

  14. Wow, what a terrible couple of weeks! I’m so glad you’re in a strong position now!

  15. Kim, Sorry to hear about the problems.. However, it’s better that you have the Emergency Fund than to break out the credit cards! (Trying to find a silver lining here….)

  16. Ouch, sorry to heard good ol’ Mr. Murphy is at your house right now Kim. Hoping your losing streak is over. My wife and I had something very similar happen earlier this year when the car broke down, I needed major dental work, and she got a speeding ticket. But you’re right, being able to deal with it because you’re making smart money decisions keeps it from a catastrophe.

  17. sorry about all the misfortune! you’re lucky the parking ticket is only $20! It’s over $110 here in NYC. 🙁 Hopefully December will be a less emergency fund depleting month!

  18. Oh that stinks! Well, maybe this is all your speeding/traffic offenses for the next few years and you are just getting them all out of the way at once!! 🙂

  19. Yikes! Looks like you had a streak of bad luck recently but at least you guys are okay yourself. I think your story epitomizes the entire concept of an emergency fund. Lots of people think its not necessary because they have their expenses under control. But emergencies are rarely caused by events in your control….

  20. Sorry for the misfortunes. I haven’t broken anything this month. I broke many traffic rules in 2007 but stayed clean until I was caught this year speeding…Perfect way to ruin a clean streak.

  21. This just reminds me of the old adage, “when it rains, it pours.” It is so true. Anytime we have a hit to the E fund, we just continue to get more and more things come up. They all happen at once. Thank goodness for the e-fund!

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