In retrospect, I was kinda asking for it.
Back in December, I sent my mom a snapshot of my various savings accounts’ rather large sum. I was gleeful. And I guess I was a bit smug — or at least overly comfortable with my financial situation.
Shortly after that, I learned that my best bet was to replace my aging HVAC unit since there were some deep and fleeting discounts. The unit plus installation was $8,200 — which, unfortunately, was about $4,500 less than I had saved up in my HVAC fund.
So that $4,500 came out of savings. Owie.
Then in late January, I noticed some of my tiles were warm — or even hot — without the HVAC on and with the rest of the house being chilly.
I called around a bit and found out I probably had a slab leak. Because of course I did.
I had to pay a plumber ($140 base charge) and a locator ($250 base charge) to come out and figure out where the leak was and what was needed to fix it.
And I shouldn’t have been surprised when they determined it was behind my beautiful tiled shower which, due to stalling out on the project multiple times, I still hadn’t even gotten a chance to use.
They had to do minimal demolition (the last row of tiles on the shorter side — so about six square feet — and the plumber really tried to save them by cutting on the grout lines. Alas…
In the end, it was much less than I assumed when I heard the words “slab leak.”
The online mid-range price was $3,000. The plumber charged me $1,980 for the repair. So even with the initial plumber and locator visit, I paid less than $2,400.
I still have to find and pay someone to fix the small tiled area, which will involve some careful tile cutting. And I’m going to try to use drywall tape and paint to cover the 3 spots in the wall they had to cut to get access to the pipes.
Anyway, all of this means that my savings account balance went from $12,500ish in early December to half that in late February.
Logically, I know that’ $6,000 is still a darn good cushion — even if I didn’t also have a pretty robust emergency fund.* I’m trying to remind myself that a lot of even very money-savvy people aren’t in a position to save up even $6,000 in a savings account.
So it’s not that I’m panicking. Once I found out the fix was going to be $3,000 or less, I actually calmed down a lot. But I still need to kvetch a bit.
Anyway, times like these are a good reminder that:
A) Some of those “renting is throwing away money” folks should really take it down a notch. Home repairs can quickly diminish how much money is “saved” by not renting. And there’s something to be said for someone else always having to handle the headache of any repairs that come up.
B) Even well-padded savings/emergency fund accounts can take a surprising number/dollar amount of hits in a short period of time.
Which is why it’s so important to so many of us to pad ourselves in the bubble wrap of healthy saving account balances. It keeps us more calm when surprise expenses rear up.
And since a lot of folks aren’t fortunate enough to be high earners, this is where I remind you that if you’re doing anything to build up an emergency fund then you’re still doing great.
Sometimes it’s soothing just knowing that whatever horrible number you’re hearing will be at least a little less out of pocket — because you have some savings. It can also just allow you to feel a bit less anxious when things are quiet. You know you’ve got something in abeyance for when life hits hard.
And anyone who’s trying to deal with their finances responsibly** deserves at least a little peace of mind.
Anyone else had any nasty surprises lately?
* I didn’t take the costs out of there because I’m so very close to reaching my goal amount.)
** Unfortunately, for some people even responsible financial behavior means they don’t get any breathing room money-wise. They also deserve some peace of mind; but until we fix a few things in this country, all I can say to them is: Life is exhausting, so you should be proud that you’re doing as well as you are.