Tip #296 - Prepare for Emergencies - Part 4- One of the most common emergencies is an unexpected big expense. Sometimes we're sailing through life and paying our monthly expenses, and everything seems to be going smoothly, financially. Then you walk into your house to find the furnace has blown out. Or your car's transmission suddenly dies, to the tune of $3000. Both of these big expenses, however, are probably not totally unexpected. If you have a 30-year old furnace, you should probably expect that it will not last much longer. If your car is 15 years old and has never had a new transmission put in, it's likely time. I wouldn't constitute either of those events as true emergencies. They are expenses that should be planned for and saved up for.
However, sometimes we are faced with an expense from out of the blue. For example, suppose your car is parked on the side of the road and is "totaled" by another car. Even though you have car insurance, the value they offer may not be enough to replace your reliable car. Or suppose your son throws a ball and breaks your window. Your insurance deductible is too high to use it, so you pay out of pocket. That may be a $500 expense that you didn't see coming. What if a tree falls down in your backyard, not hitting any part of your house or fence? Insurance doesn't cover that. Instead, you will be paying the cost of having the tree removed. Add a stump grinding to it, and you expense could be close to $1,000. These are the types of expenses that are unexpected, sudden, and costly that we can't truly plan for. Instead, these fall under our emergency category as a means to pay for them. If you don't have this category, you will be scrambling at the last minute to try to find funds to cover these unexpected costs. Eat less? Skip a vacation? Go in debt? None of those choices is idea. Instead, having a fund set aside for these unexpected, sudden, costly expenses can cover you when you need it.
IRL - One day two winters ago, it had snowed several inches. My husband went out to shovel the pathway to our house when he found that the front patio had sunk literally into the ground. What he found out, after investigating, is that the patio was built on top of a big hole in the ground. It was definitely not built to code (although code was likely different in 1953) and was unsafe. Our insurance wouldn't cover it. We needed a whole new patio put in. Mind you , this was in the winter under snow - not exactly the time contractors are building patios! Fortunately, it warmed up soon after. My husband, who is quite handy, actually decided to tackle this project himself. Even though we have money in our emergency fund, we prefer to still be frugal with our expenses when we can. He still ended up spending several hundred dollars to rebuild our patio, but less than if had hired someone. And we were able to breathe easier knowing that our emergency fund covered our expense and the ground, too!