In my previous post I shared some strategies to deal with unexpected financial emergencies.
Today, I thought I would “get real” with all my readers. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first I was curious as to how you feel whenever you have to tap your emergency fund.
In other words: when your car dies, but you’ve saved up for car problems — how do you feel?
Do you feel relieved to have the money set aside?
Do you feel frustration because you were just getting on the right financial track, and now you’re taking a step back?
How do you feel initially when you discover the emergency? Is it different from how you feel after you’ve had time to sit and think about everything?
I Hate Using Our Emergency Fund
I’ve got to admit it. I hate using our emergency fund. Hate. It.
This may seem a bit odd for a person who has been writing on personal finance topics for the past (almost) three years. A blogger that has been telling you to save up money for years! But I hate using those additional funds.
I feel this way when the emergency first happens, and I still usually feel that way later on when I’ve had time to think about it.
It may seem really odd. I get it. I can logically walk myself through why I shouldn’t hate using my emergency fund. Nonetheless I still hate to touch that saved up money.
Our Car Emergency
In August of 2009 I reminded you that having funds saved up for car emergencies was important. That reminder came on the heels of my wife having a flat tire — a flat tire that led to the realization that all four of her tires needed replacing.
At the time we had a category in our budget for car maintenance. It was there to pay for our regular oil changes plus incidental incidents came up. When we had to buy new tires — cha-ching! — that category sat at a whopping $30.
Kind of hard to buy four new tires on $30.
So we had to dip into our emergency fund to pay for them. Ugh!
At the end of the month we were able to pay ourselves back because we had a great financial month.
But I still felt bad about dipping into those funds. I think I know why, too. Maybe this will help you understand yourself or your spouse better.
You Can’t Prepare for Every Possible Scenario
While most of you are thinking ,”Duh, of course you can’t prepare for every possible scenario in life”, I struggle with that thought.
I try to be prepared for as many possible financial scenarios as I can. It’s a losing battle because there is a limitless supply of things that could break or go wrong that I’ll never be able to prepare for.
But the financial nerd in me wants to be ready. And I feel like the few times we’ve had to dip into our emergency fund that I’ve failed to prepare. And that failure means I’ve failed myself and my family.
Does anyone else feel this way or am I alone?
You Can Prepare for Types of Scenarios
I’m not a nutcase that sits at my desk every day fretting about what horrible thing might happen that day. (I would need medication if that were true!)
What has really helped me is to not save up one giant pile of money and put one label on it: Emergency Fund.
Instead we have several different funds to cover certain categories.
For example, our emergency fund is technically a fund to cover our expenses if we both went without income for 12 months. It’s an lost income emergency fund. I’m not comfortable using that money to cover other issues unless we have no other choice.
So we have a car maintenance fund like I described earlier. We have a home maintenance fund. Things like that help me mentally separate the cash into boxes. Once I know that box has enough money in it I can stop worrying worry less about unexpected things that could pop up in that area.
But I do find myself consistently being reminded that there is simply no way to prepare for everything. I guess I’ll just have to get over that part… eventually.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you hate to tap your emergency fund? Leave a comment below — and feel free to tell me I’m crazy!
(Photo by Rocchio)