Life happens. One day, you’re in a study room at the library, getting tons of writing done and making money. The next, you’re home, sneaking a bite from the tub of cookie dough in your freezer when one of your back molars chips.
You freeze, mid-bite, wondering if that was your imagination. Sure enough, you gingerly reach your fingers into your mouth and extract a portion of your tooth. You just stare.
Next comes the expression of suppressed misery as you slowly feel your chipped tooth to survey the damage. The cookie dough has lost its allure. Everything is jagged and unnatural, but thankfully there’s no pain.
You wander around for the next few days, compulsively checking your broken tooth every 3.8 seconds. Finally, the day of your dental appointment arrives and the news you secretly knew was coming, arrives.
“There’s too much filling and not enough tooth. You’re going to need a crown. After insurance, it’s going to cost $1,031.20.”
That’s one expensive chipped tooth.
I called Dontae and shared the bad news with him. I felt guilty thinking about how many things we could buy with that money. I thought about the dozens of articles I’d have to write to make that much.
I shared these feelings with my husband and he answered back with, “We’ll take it from our HSA, and what that won’t cover, the emergency fund will. You know you’d never have to pay for this with your writing. It’s covered.”
Those two words.
That’s what we learned (slooowly) what saving for emergencies is all about.
It’s for the moment when the unexpected calamity already happened and you’re just about to pay for it.
It’s for the moment when the dental assistant tells you that you can pay in installments and you’re able to say, “We can pay it off today.”
It’s for that moment when you’re discussing the event with your spouse and you calmly follow the plan you set in place years ago instead of arguing and casting blame.
How We Built an Emergency Fund
After taking Financial Peace University in 2011, we learned about and followed the baby steps to financial freedom. Here are the first three:
- Save $1,000 for emergencies
- Pay off all non-mortgage debt
- Save 3-6 months of expenses for emergencies
It took us two months to coordinate our very poor budgeting and saving skills as newlyweds to complete baby step #1. But we did it.
It took 22 months of aggressive saving to pay off our $22,000 of debt. But we did it.
Finally, we plugged away at our emergency fund and managed to keep it steadily above the “3 months of expenses” mark. Now we put away everything extra toward a house down payment, replenishing the emergency fund, and saving for other expenses like our HSA, auto insurance, clothing, Christmas, etc.
It’s NOT perfect. But, it is so worth the work.
Ever have a face palm financial moment? Leave a comment below.