Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
- Murphy’s Law
It’s been a very interesting couple of weeks around No Credit Needed land. As many will recall, we recently purchased our first home. The first month in the new house was awesome. The second month? – filled with challenges!
Three weeks ago, just as we were getting good and settled in, every member of our family got the stomach flu. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say, two adults, two kids, and a baby – all getting sick at the same time – does not make for an enjoyable experience. I told my wife, I felt like we lost an entire week, poof, just gone.
Just as we were getting over our sickness, our washing machine, old faithful, decided to give up the ghost. Oh, and we also found that it had been leaking for much of the time in the new house, damaging a portion of a wall in the laundry room. We replaced the washing machine – this time going with a front-loading high efficiency model – and we also bought a new dryer. The old one was on its last legs and could never have kept up with the newer dryer. We knew the day was coming when we’d have to buy a new set – we just didn’t think it’d be so soon after the new home purchase.
Last week, as I started working out in the yard for the first time, my weed trimmer stopped working. It just stopped – dead. I had a buddy look at it, and he assured me that it could be fixed – but that fixing it would cost more than simply replacing it! So, I bought a new one – and I skipped the gasoline powered trimmers and went straight for a lightweight model, which uses rechargeable batteries. Our yard is relatively small, and there are only a few areas where I actually need the trimmer, so the loss of power isn’t that big of a deal, especially now that I get the convenience of the battery-powered machine.
Now, to the final visit (hopefully) from Mr. Murphy. Last night, as I was going to town, I had a flat tire. Thankfully, I was in a well-lit area and was able to pull over and put on the spare. I took the car into the shop this morning – and you guessed it – not only did I have to replace the destroyed tire, I also needed three new tires as well. (The need for the new tires was confirmed by a good friend who is a mechanic, as well as a couple of guys from our church.) Usually, I’m good about keeping newer tires on our automobiles, but I actually got a couple of dates confused. I honestly thought that the tires on my car only had about 30,000 miles on them – and it turns out that it was more like 60,000. I looked back in my records, just to make sure, I just had the wrong date-of-purchase in my head.
Oh, I almost forgot! There was a problem with our air conditioning unit – it stopped cooling the upstairs. Turns out, there wasn’t anything wrong with the unit, but a section of insulation was blocking the air from correctly flowing from the unit to the upstairs vents. The fix only took a few minutes, thankfully, but it was just another in a series of Murphy Moments.
Obviously, I’m not writing this post so that folks will feel sorry for me. Heck, my issues are minor, especially in comparison to some of the real financial struggles that some folks are facing. The point I want to make is this: These visits from Mr. Murphy were just hassles – issues to be dealt with - issues we could deal with – because we have an emergency fund and we live on a budget. We have money set aside for replacing our appliances, for buying new tires, for fixing the air conditioner, and for replacing the weed trimmer. We planned ahead. So, even though Mr. Murphy has been busy, he has not defeated us!
That’s what the emergency fund does – it doesn’t eliminate the issues, but it eliminates the fear and the worry associated with issues. Back in the days when we had big-time credit card debt, I would have worried about buying a set of tires or purchasing a new washing machine. Now, I just go out and make the purchase, and I move on with my life. That’s the power of planning and living debt free.
Obviously, there is a limit to the protection that an emergency fund can provide. Heaven forbid, we could face much more difficult (and actual) problems in the future. However, just because it can’t provide total, unequivocal protection doesn’t mean that the emergency fund isn’t important! Shoot, if all it does is provide even a temporary buffer between difficult times and very difficult times, having one is more than worth it! For us, life is better with an emergency fund. Time and again, having a little extra has meant the difference between paying cash – and borrowing money.