Classy Frugality

Making the most of life while living on a budget

Singing in the Rain

Rain is inevitable.

For those of us in the Pacific Northwest, we know this all too well. However, today I’m not talking about weather, I’m talking about life.

In life, there will eventually be some kind of “rain” (rough patch, emergency, whatever you want to call it). The older generation talks about having a “rainy day fund” for such occasions and most people would call this an “emergency fund.” As advised by Dave Ramsey, we personally keep $1,000 in the bank in case of an emergency. Usually for us, this means when we have to do emergency fixes on our car(s).

5 months ago we decided to purchase a second car so I could substitute teach with more ease. We paid a few hundred dollars and and put a lot of work into it. It’s been running fine, and then this week, I tried to back it out of the driveway and it was like someone pulled the emergency brake. I couldn’t move it without a horrible scraping noise.

Car Bill #2

I called a tow truck and took it to our mechanic, and he found that the back brakes needed to be replaced, along with our leaking struts. When all was said and done, we had a bill of $1,562.04. 

In the past, this number would have floored me. A few months into our marriage we realized we needed new tires for our car. The estimate was a few hundred dollars. I curled up in a ball in the car and cried because our credit card was maxed out and I knew we couldn’t afford it.

Now, because we have our savings, this was more of an inconvenience than a financial (and emotional) emergency. We happened to have this amount in a savings account that we had started for the summer (when our pay schedule changes), so we used that to pay the bill.

I picked up the car (yesterday) and was driving home when all of the sudden I noticed that the battery light was on. I don’t know a lot about cars, but from previous experience, I know that when the battery light comes on you pull over because your car is going to die. Sure enough, I pulled over and the car promptly died.

I called our mechanic again and he towed the car to his shop. This morning he called me and said along with the alternator being dead, he also needed to replace the water pump and timing belt. This would be another $900. I took a deep breath and after consulting my husband, told him to go ahead with the work.

I’ve been reflecting on this experience and the weird thing is that I’ve been very emotionally neutral through it all. It’s been so life-changing for us to have some money in the bank so that when these unexpected (but really expected, we just don’t know what they’ll be) things happen, we can take care of it instead of freaking out.

Car bill #1

So, this is my exhortation to all of you who are trying to be frugal: don’t scrimp on the savings. Sure you need to spend money on food, debt, rent and other things, but you should always have a little bit in the bank for when the inevitable happens.

If you take the initiative and make a rainy day fund, when the rain hits, you can pull out your umbrella and sing instead of curling up in a ball and crying. 

What’s your personal philosophy for savings/emergency funds?

Leave me a comment below!

4 Comments

  1. Ah, the pain of cars and the wisdom of an emergency fund – I so can relate! We put aside a certain amount every month, and had been doing so for the past year and a half. Boy were we happy when we got hit with a $1,500 repair bill on our last car. It drained the fund, but didn’t impact the rest of our savings like repairs had in the past. It really is amazing how these emergencies can be navigated by planning for the inevitable to happen eventually, like you said. Praying for a smooth drive from here on out!

    • Thanks for the response, Todd! I like the idea of saving a little bit each month for car trouble. Very wise! Thanks for the prayers – we’re hoping for a “smooth drive” as well. 🙂

  2. When you learn what the problem is, find out how much the actual parts cost, and then see if you can find a mechanical friend with the right skills and tools. My cousin’s truck had a door that just wouldn’t close and it was just a spring that needed to be replaced. Jeremy did it for her in about ten minutes.

    • Great idea, Katana! We’ve done this before – it really depends on what needs to be fixed. We’ve had family help us with oil changes and easy fixes like filters and belts, but when it comes to a large fix, we have decided to just take it to someone who knows what they’re doing and can get it done quickly. (We’ve found a mechanic we like and trust and who often undercharges us on labour and doesn’t mark up the prices for parts, so that works for us.)

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