Surprise! Why me? Dealing with bad surprises

You know that feeling you get, you know when to feel like “I just can’t believe this is happening to me” and not in a good way.

But in a
Why me? way.

That is how I was feeling lately.


Because of the Surprise!
It wasn’t even a good surprise.

It was another unexpected, out of nowhere, break you expense.
Well, it could have been, had we not been in the financial position we are today.

Emergency fund, rainy day fund, unexpected expenses fund. It doesn’t matter what it’s called. Every one is touting be prepare. Like an 11 year old boy scout.

But honestly most people just don’t do it.  One survey showed that up to 62% of people wouldn’t be able to cover a $1,000 expense. While we all seem to expect the worst in some scenarios in others we think ” that will never happen to me. To us. That only happens to them.” It’s almost like we think bad things only happen to people who deserve it. If we are good, nice , caring people we should be fine.

Whether it’s Karma or God you believe in, banking that things will be good all the time is just not realistic. Life is messy so being prepared is key.

You, I, we all need an emergency fund.

When disaster strikes

Personally when an emergency happens its all about what’s going on in the moment. What needs to get done, what do you need to figure out.  Your in the moment and you might not realize whats happening until later.

Looking back I can’t believe the last 12 months.

It’s been Emergency after emergency. Though I don’t think you should freak out and expect an emergency to pop up everyday of the month like this poverty simulation.* It seems like it would be in your best interest to plan for 1 every quarter.


That means you should plan to have a minimum of 1K in the bank at all times and be able to save $333 a month to replenish any 1K emergency after only 3 months. Therefore, covering you 1K every quarter. Lets take a moment to digest that why don’t we. What I am saying is you need to have a $333 wiggle room in your budget at all times. But we can tackle that after building up the initial 1K.

Like I said earlier, this past year has been rife with the unexpected high cost expenses here at Traveling Wallet HQ. The financial emergency if you will.

I don’t remember a year so full of unwelcome surprises.

1 year 4 bad surprises

Last December less then 12 months ago Mr. Roamer was surprised by a hit and run driver. Leaving the car in shambles and us asking. Is this covered by the insurance? Luckily it was, but we were still liable for the 1k deductible.  2 months later and 1k copay we were back to 2 cars.

Bad Surprise # 1, Cost $1,000 paid out in February

March saw us loose our childcare. While this didn’t cost us money paid out. It did cost us used vacation and lost hrs for 2 weeks as we juggled the new situation.  If we didn’t have vacations saved up or flexible employers it would have meant lost wages. I was able to change to 2nd shift to adjust to our new family needs. Could you have afforded not being paid for 2 weeks?  What if the employer hadn’t allowed a shift change? Could you have handled losing the wages of 1 earner? Or found emergency childcare and paid the extra money to have it immediately?

Bad Surprise #2, Cost ~$600 in used vacation in March

Oct saw my car stop working right as I needed to drop off Jr to school.  Jr. missed school and later we discovered a rodent decided to take refuge and chew through some wires. A $4,000+ quote later we are asking once again, will the insurance cover this? The insurance coverage with the same 1 k deductible. Back down to one car for 3 wk and this time we really struggled to make it work. With our staggered work schedules we could no longer carpool and we seriously discussed getting a rental car.  In the end we choose not to. But would you need to get a rental car on top of paying for the repairs or your deductible.

Bad Surprise #3, Cost $842 repair in October

Finally November saw another bomb dropped on the Traveling Wallet household. This one costing over 3k in perpetuity.

Bad Surprise #4, Cost 3K+ in November.

Now like I said, this seems like an unusually high set of occurrences. It is, but I’m a real person and this is what’s been going on in my real life. If we switched places would you have survived my last year?

So lets get serious

So I know you need an emergency fund , you know you need an emergency fund, what are we going to do about it?

First off I’m going to drop a bomb. You want to build a 1k emergency fund in 15 months, sorry the rest of this post isn’t for you.

Seriously 15 months? no. You need 1k in your bank account NOW!

It can’t wait anymore. You need to take a challenge and get those funds together in 1 month.

Now I’m not saying what you do in the next month is going to be sustainable for the long term. I’m saying that while improving your whole financial health might be a marathon. An emergency fund is a sprint. You need to push yourself to the limit then push yourself some more.

Its completely possible. I know because I’ve carried a 1K savings since high school.

Getting the 1k in a month

We are emergency fund ninjas! HAAA YA!
We are emergency fund ninjas! HAAA YA!

Extreme times call for extreme measures. I’m sure you’ll read through this list and think uck.  But not having $1,000 in cash to cover emergency expenses is in itself a big huge emergency that needs to be taken care of ASAP.

So lets get started

  •  Need money? Pull it out of a vacation fund. Maybe your on the up and up and are saving small amounts for your emergency fund, a vacation and the holidays. Christmas is around the corner. Pretty much you’ve decided to tackle multiple financial goals.

Sorry, but funding your emergency fund takes priority and is actually your current 1k emergency. Everything else needs to take a back seat until you have your 1k sitting safely in the bank.

If you have money sitting around waiting for a purchase. Post pone the purchase until your e-fund is built.  Potential $100-$500

  • Cut out cable for a month. Whether it’s movies or sports you watch take a break for 1 month to get your finances in shape. $70-$120
  • Lower your grocery bill. Apparently people spend big bucks on feeding the family. Up in the 1k a month range.
    Remember your taking a one month extreme challenge. Cut out all meat. Cut out any fancy items like expensive cheese. Cut out food waste by buying smaller qty.  If you have food going into the garbage your wasting money. $1000 reduced to $600 means $400 + for savings. And honestly I think you can do better then that. We are a family  of 4 and spend $400-$500 per month and we still eat meat occasionally, and we don’t eat ramen at all.
  • Cut out eating out at work. Pack your lunch 4 days a week. If you spend $10/day that equals $40/wk and $160/month. That still leaves you 1 day a week to go eat out.
  • Cut out eating out as a family. That can easily cost $50-$100 per outing. Cut it out twice this month and save $100-$200
  • Cut out unnecessary expenses. I said Christmas is right around the corner and many people will say presents is a necessary part of that. How much you spend on presents is totally optional, cut down or cut out the qty. And give your family the gift of surviving an emergency unscathed.  Can you save $100 from your holiday budget?
  • Reduce your driving. On the weekends walk or bike around town for entertainment. Save 1 tank of gas. $30- $70.
The stroller we sold for $50
The stroller we sold for $50
  • Sell extra things around the house. I made $50 with a stroller sale. Can you find a few things to sell? Earn and save $50
  • Close your storage unit. Sell enough of your unused items and you can close out your storage space. Or at the very least move to a smaller unit. $50- $100 saved

Add up all the lower end stuff and all the higher end stuff this list has the potential to save you $1060- $1700.  Some stuff will apply some won’t and you might have to even think of some of your own ideas. Like getting a second or side job for a month and saving all the earnings. That will get you to your 1 K safety net real fast.

So if you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a thousand times. In the end you  and I need an Emergency fund. So stop procrastinating. As you saw with me you might have years where nothing happens and then you have 4 in one year. Don’t wait be ready now.

Do you have an emergency fund? If not what are you going to do to make sure you are all set by the end of the next 30 days?

The Roamer traveling wallet

*Spent is a simulation test to see if you’d survive with 1k for a month.

6 thoughts on “Surprise! Why me? Dealing with bad surprises”

  1. We were lucky that a yearly bonus helped pushed our EF up to $5k a few years ago. We kept it there for awhile, but now I’m putting an extra $50 into it each month to help push it closer to 3 months’ expenses.

    Selling off is probably one of the fastest ways to raise the funds. And yeah, if you have a vacation fund but not an EF… put off the trip and secure yourself some moolah in case of emergencies.

    1. Exactly you really want to have a safety net in case of job loss too. That covers you for 3-6 months but first people need to break the $1,000 mark. And they need to do it pronto.

  2. Boy oh boy do I not miss those days when it did feel like an emergency was happening every week. I blogged through the pain but it was the best impetus to keep racking up the overtime as long as I could so that I’d actually have an emergency fund, and then an Oh Sh!t fund. The emergency fund is only for catastrophes like job loss and medical meltdown now but I’m not thrilled to be nearing the end of 2015 with our cash flow running low. At least several thousand of that is thanks to our new tax deduction 😉

    1. It’s good to hear that you made it through such a challenging time.

      I know that 4 a year is not once a week but this year it sure felt like we were fielding one after another.

  3. Wow. That is a financially tough year you had. I am sure you will be happy to see a fresh start in 2016!
    We also believe in emergency funds and always have cash available for such cases. We have been fairly lucky so far which I think means we’re due for an issue!
    We live in a major city so only own one car and use it very infrequently (maybe once or twice a month). I think this really helps with avoiding emergencies but I know walking/cycling everywhere is not feasible in all cities.

    1. Yes having 2 cars seems to increase the chances of having issues…. though the 2 issues we had are not your standard bald tires… that is what was the worst as far as I know you can prepare for a hit and run or for a rodent taking up residence in your car. But we just moved closer to work so we are less car dependent now

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