Overall, June has been an awesome month. End of the school year activities, daily hiking and outdoor time, and a house full of laughter and shenanigans. But man, am I happy the month is over. Why? It’s been an expensive month.
First, we broke our garage door. My very handy husband couldn’t DIY a fix and we do need the garage door to close… so we coughed over $500 to fix it. Ouch.
Then, I dropped and broke my cell phone. In an effort to be frugal, I bought a refurbished phone for $70 on eBay – what a deal! But not such a good deal, as it broke down two weeks later. Since I need a reliable phone for safety (I frequently travel alone with the kids), I decided to spend the extra money for a new phone with a warranty ($230).
Lastly, our normally very healthy dog needed immediate care while we were traveling. The bill for the ER vet exam, xRays, and medication? Another $250.
After months of being on a spending diet and saving spree, these purchases felt painful. Even though we still have plenty in our emergency fund, it felt like a major setback.
And yet, I know even the most frugal families have unexpected life events and expenses that are out of our control.
Which reminds me to take a step back and breathe…
We have an emergency fund
A few years ago, we did not. We were only saving at a minimal rate and had very little cash savings. An unexpected expense of $1,120 would have meant going into debt and/or cutting back significantly in other areas to cover the expense.
Today, I am grateful and proud of the progress we’ve made.
We have cash in savings to cover these costs. (And, as a silver lining, we will have no problem hitting the minimum spends on our travel credit cards to receive the bonus miles!)
An emergency fund is there to use for unexpected, necessary, and urgent expenses. If an expense meets these three criteria, it is okay to use it!
The emergency fund money is spent, so now what? Here’s how we are going to rebound – and how you can, too.
Refill the Emergency Fund – We will reallocate our budget for the next few months to refill our emergency fund. We’ll do this over the course of five months, transferring an additional $225 a month to savings. This ensures we have enough in our emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, but we’ll do it at a pace we can realistically budget for.
Reduce Discretionary Spending – Our discretionary spending is already pretty low, but we’ll put a freeze on unnecessary spending to build up our emergency fund faster. Also, I will resist the urge to purchase more stuff because we already blew our budget! (My husband thinks this quirk of my spending personality is really strange, but at least I am aware of it!)
Delay Larger Planned Purchases – To stay within our budget, we will also delay other larger planned expenses until our emergency fund is replenished.
Ward Off Guilt – I have to remind myself that if the expense is unexpected, absolutely necessary, and urgent, it is okay to use your emergency fund. That is what it is there for! Be proud you have a back-up plan for these expenses, and look to the bigger picture.
You’ve got this
Unexpected expenses are a major bummer – especially when they are necessary, urgent, and expensive.
With money – and with life – there will always be bumps in the roads. Ups and downs. Successes and failures.
What is important is remembering the bigger picture.
For us, the bigger picture is that because we had an emergency fund we are still on track to reach our short-term and long-term savings goals – despite the bruise to the ego.
What is your bigger picture? How do you rebound from a dip in your emergency fund?
I’d love to hear your ideas or questions. Leave a comment below!