Are You Ready for One of Those Months?

It started with a text from my neighbor, “are you home?” uh, oh. My mind is racing, “was I home last weekend? Kids have a wild party? Hit their mailbox? Tree fall in their yard?” When we met at our side yard, it was worse than that, “I think this river of water is coming from your house.” Yep, it was, and $2,000 later, I had a new water main coming in to the house and a $270 water bill. Thankfully, I got some relief on the water bill.

[Quick aside: Did you know that the water company has a “leaks adjustment” department? I didn’t, but I do now. Good to know. You email them a copy of the repair bill and they look at your water usage history and (hopefully) give you a credit for the cost of the water that cascaded into your neighbor’s yard. Nice. Every little bit helps.]

Strike 2 came a week or so later, when my son walked up the stairs on a Sunday afternoon and said, “bad news.” That one was a $6,700 car repair bill for coming around a curve and running over a construction pipe encased in cement that was in the middle of the road. “Mom, it was either hit an oncoming car head-on, go into a ravine filled with trees, or try to clear the pipe.” Thankfully, he tried to clear the pipe but …. Thank heavens my son is ok and that insurance is covering all but $1,000 of the repairs. Still, it’s $1,000.

Strike 3 is a longer story but suffice it to say that it added $5,000 to the outflow. That’s a pretty expensive month at my house! Seems like things come in threes but usually the not so great things. Next time, I would like a three-pack of scratch-off tickets that strike gold, please! (Actually, I would be ecstatic with one!!)

There is no use crying over spilled milk or thousands of dollars of repair bills so what can you do but look at the bright side and start to rebuild the emergency fund. Speaking of emergency fund, now might be a good time to review your emergency reserves before you have a month like I did:

  • Do you have enough money in cash to cover any deductibles that you have for your house or your cars? Do you even remember how much the deductibles are? Best check now when all is clear. If it’s too high, you may need to save up or call your agent. If it’s too low, you are over-spending on premiums.
  • What about deductibles on health insurance? A big, bad medical emergency can add up quickly so be sure you know what your plan would cover.
  • What big ticket items around your house might be dying a slow death? I once had 2 air units within 6 weeks of each other. That hurt. Furnace? Water heater? Appliances? Think about the big items that are getting old and create a plan to address them (or at least set aside money for them) before you are shivering on that first cold night of the winter when the furnace is MIA.
  • Look at those cars – how’s the maintenance been on those? How many miles have they logged?
    • Start planning and saving now for that next car replacement. If you aren’t paying cash for your car purchases, it’s time to start making a plan to do so.
    • Does your auto mechanic have a credit card that gives you six months with no interest? Tires Plus has one, and believe me, with 6 older cars in the Gildea auto pool, I always seem to be paying off some repair.
  • How long would your savings cover if you or your spouse lost a job? Three to six months is recommended.
  • Think back on some of the “bad months” that you have had in the past. Are you prepared if any of those things should repeat?

I really hope that the things that come in threes for you are the happy, cash-in types, but just in case, shore up your emergency fund and make sure you are ready. Here’s hoping next month is great one for all of us!

To your financial success!