Happy new year everyone! Christmas break 2017 was a roller coaster in our house. It started off well enough. My last day of work for the year was the 20th. Spirits were high. The sky was bright. I had two days to joke with the kids about having days off that they were still in school instead of the other way around. Little did I know, this Christmas break would not be all merry.
On Saturday, the microwave broke. This is not that big of a deal and doesn’t require an emergency fund, but it set a chain of events into motion that would lead to great despair (ominous music swells). We have a counter-top unit and bought a replacement online at Target. Total was $101 after the sale price and the Redcard discount.
On the day after Christmas, the washing machine flooded the basement. Well, it flooded part of the basement. The end by the washing machine and the floor drain. That’s the good news, the bad news is that the entire basement is carpeted and that section of carpet was floating a couple inches above where it should be. For those of you that are not “handy” or “do it yourselfers”, carpet should never be floating on a couple inches of water.
I don’t know how much this is going to cost since the appliance repair service can’t come until Jan. 3. So far, the only costs have been replacement supply lines, which were not the problem. Oh, and the electricity cost of running two space heaters since December 26th to dry out the area. As long as the carpet is thoroughly dried, we won’t replace it. It’s an outdoor/indoor carpet laid directly on the basement slab. Thank goodness the previous owners didn’t put an indoor carpet down with a pad. I would have had to remove everything.
The service call will be $75 to diagnose the problem. If we decide to replace the machine, it will be a few hundred dollars. If we only get it fixed, it should be a couple hundred dollars. Still not quite into emergency fund territory. We take care of these types of expenses by shifting other non-essential or non-urgent spending to another month. The emergency fund, or emergency funding strategy, comes into play if we have several of these at once.
The new microwave arrived and the children cheered! No more heating leftovers on the stove like a barbarian. We toasted modern online shopping and shipping logistics. Things were turning around for sure.
Things were not turning around
I opened the box and saw that Target sent an inflatable movie screen instead of a microwave.
Naturally, the kids wanted to know if we actually had ordered this and were also getting an outdoor projector. To their great dismay, we were not.
When Target sends the wrong item, you have the option to send it back via mail or take it to a Target store. Since we live five minutes from a store, I decided to take it back myself. This would get the replacement microwave to us quicker since they weren’t going to send it until they got their giant screen back.
Protip: You need the credit card used to order the item online to return the item to the store if it isn’t something held in stores – like a giant movie screen. This is interesting since I had the packing list and an emailed receipt.
Usually you can return things with a receipt and refund the card used without the physical card. It didn’t matter though. We had used Em’s Redcard and I didn’t have it with me the first time I tried to bring it back.
Notice: the first time…tried
Defeated, I returned to the car and onto the remainder of my errands for the evening.
The second time I tried to return the movie screen
On Saturday morning we woke to a couple inches of fresh snow. This was turning out to be a nicely consistent wintry Christmas break. Normally in Pittsburgh we’re lucky to get a slushy Christmas that melts and then some flurries as New Year’s arrives. We like snow and appreciated the wintry weather.
Late in the morning, I decided to take back the movie screen. This time with Em’s Redcard in hand. Our neighborhood has two exits. One exit has a large and very steep hill and the other has no significant hill. The quickest way to the Target is down the big hill and this is the way I go to work every morning. You can see where this is going…
Since it was late in the morning and the township usually clears the big hill early (and because I didn’t want to go the long way and spend an extra five minutes), I went down the big hill. The top was fine. The middle was a bit slick, and then it was very slick.
The good news is I managed to steer between a set of mailboxes and only take out half of a bush and some turf. The bad news is I damaged the front bumper of the van, possibly a wheel rim, and some exhaust parts. Good thing the van needs its state inspection in January anyway!
We don’t carry comprehensive insurance coverage on our cars since they are paid off and we keep them until they die. The cost savings from not paying the higher premiums and deductible for repairs is worth taking care of the few times we have had something that could have been claimed.
I’m mentally preparing myself for ~$2,000 of repairs not including repairing any damage to the bumper cover. Some of that is replacing all four tires, which I could argue is not really an emergency it’s just part of routine car upkeep.
Emergency Fund Plan
Twist! We won’t use an emergency fund. We will use an emergency funding plan. Our plan to take care of emergencies is:
- Shift non-essential or non-urgent spending to another month.
- Use the float from our personal escrow account.
- Use our HELOC for a really big emergency because…
we don’t have a proper emergency fund right now since we raided it to kill off our school loans last year. A gamble I know, but we have plans in place to take care of these types of things that will absolutely happen.
As long as there is a plan for emergency spending that covers the first several thousand dollars of spending, we’re comfortable not having a dedicated emergency fund. Most emergencies that are large emergencies will be spread over a few months anyway and can be blunted just through work income. That said, one of our 2018 goals is to rebuild a real emergency fund. Then we would replace that third bullet of our HELOC with accessing the emergency fund.
What do you think? Is the emergency funding plan a good gamble compared to a robust emergency fund?