Cristy Cash is the Director of Counseling and a Senior Certified Consumer Credit and Housing Counselor at CCCS of Central Oklahoma. She lives in Edmond, Oklahoma with her Hus band Matt, young son Jackson and her dog Bear.
Yesterday I had three relatively unexpected expenses pop up on the same day:
- A $500 copay for a car repair covered by insurance. (I will probably get that money back from the other guy’s insurance, but that’s another story and well, it has to come out of someone’s pocket and that pocket is mine right now.)
- 5 tires I ended up buying for my Toyota 4Runner. That started out as one flat tire due to a nail I picked up and 1 hour later discovering my best tire was ruined by the nail and all the others needed replacement.
- A weird green ooze coming out of my son’s ear when I picked him up from daycare. After a call to the nurse we decided to go to the urgent care center for some antibiotics.
Of co urse these are normal events that can happen in anyone’s day. These things do frequently happen to many people! And of course spending that kind of money is a cause for the ole pit in the stomach (honestly I do still have that) but here is what happened and why I am happy. Here is why I feel Matt and I swam upstream in our finances:
- We did not go into any debt yesterday. Two years ago our little son was born – shattering the former reality of our fabulous D.I.N.K lifestyle. I am reminded of Stephanie Dolgoff’s www.formerlyhot.com. We honestly had a little trouble recovering from this reality. Our youth and money could not now carry us quite as far as before! It took us some time to accept that our life had in fact changed and you could see this mental resistance in our budget and our balance sheet.
- What we did right: We recognized that our priorities were being sabotaged and worked as a team to make some changes. We shifted the day to day cashflow management to my husband, Matt, since he had the psychological energy for it and we shifted my energies to building savings which I enjoy more anyway. The result of this is that we have protected savings we had, saved windfalls, continued to save money from our paychecks and more tightly control our expenses to work toward that effort. With our little guy running around costing us money and energy at every turn, it definitely takes both of our capacities, but working together we turned a corner. When the rainy day struck yesterday, our primary checking account had more than enough money to cover the costs without sacrificing any of our essential bills.
- What we did wrong: We should have paid more attention to our tires. That really hit us out of left field and it shouldn’t have. Next time we will anticipate the time at which our tires will wear out. We will know what kinds of tires we need and we will shop around for the best deal. Because we let the crisis define what we spent yesterday, tires probably cost us an additional $150-$200.
- My husband and I did not get in a fight. It is very difficult to go through a stressful situation with your spouse and NOT fight – especially when money is involved. Each of us has a dif ferent value system; we have different things we want to do with money – and we were each watching money go away that we had hoped to use for different expenses. It was disappointing!
- What we did right: We have some practice in going through stress together with limited conflict. Two years ago our little boy was born at 25 weeks gestation – what is known as being a micro-preemie. He was on life support for 2 months and in the hospital for 104 days total. We learned to dig for calm while going through stressful times to avoid fighting and we also learned to call upon our senses of humor. I remember once while Jackson was in a surgery recovery room Matt was reading jokes to me from an online site while Jackson was sleeping. We just sat in there giggling as quietly as we could! It is one of my best memories! Yesterday something similar happened. Somehow Jackson got hold of a toy that has various sound bytes pre-recorded into it. He kept pushing a button over and over that made this DISGUSTING puking sound. It had the “splash” and everything! We had never heard it before and nearly cried from the laughter in the tense moment.
- What we did wrong: Nothing! J We ended the day peaceful and laughing even if a little worse for wear. I suggest investing in a “puke” sound-byte for the next day of disaster you go through.
- We were motivated to stay on the path. Yes we did have a moment reminiscent of the film “Up” by having to symbolically smash the savings jar, but we were not devastated! We are already strategizing on ways to build back up the money we spent and are proud that not all of our short term savings goals were compromised. This event sealed our de termination to spend our money by our priorities and not let our debt grow under our watch!
Contact Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma at www.cccsok.org for creative consultations on how to organize your spending.
TLDR Version – We had $1600 in unexpected expenses yesterday. If we hadn’t changed our habits months ago we wouldn’t have been able to spend that money without going into debt. We also got through it without fighting and are more determined than ever to manage our expenses and save our money.