holding pattern emergency fund on standby

January 3rd, 2008

Holding Pattern – Emergency Fund on Standby

I mentioned earlier that there were some problems with my car’s taillights. My spouse took the car in yesterday morning to have the service station re-fix it since the fix the first time wasn’t adequate, and learned that the right taillight was unfixable because the part had been recalled by Saturn. Why they didn’t figure that out Monday, I don’t know, and we won’t be taking the car back to that place. I wish I knew how to find a good mechanic.

But, anyway. We made an appointment with the Saturn dealer to get the recall work done this morning. I was excited that the problem would be fixed for free since it is a recall. The top brake light and one of the taillights still worked, so my spouse felt comfortable driving the car home. But the car did not cooperate. As he was exiting the highway on his way home from work (about 2 miles from our house), the check engine light started flashing, the car made some weird noises, and then died at the end of the exit ramp. He coasted it to the side of the road, and called me.

The timing of this event was pretty fortuitous, all told. It could have happened on the way home on our 800 mile trip, or even on the way out on our trip. But still, it wasn’t the greatest timing, for it was 11 degrees out at the time and even though my spouse was close to home, he wasn’t close enough. I ended up calling him a cab to get home and a tow truck to the Saturn dealer for the car. More of that story is on my family blog, we’ll just call the cab fare (which was only $8 including tip) my spouse’s stupid tax for the day, since he had the keys to the shed (where the extra carseats for his car are stored) in his pocket so I couldn’t go get him with his car. But anyway.

So now, I wait. Obviously, the car has problems beyond the back taillights. The question is, how serious are the problems? I don’t know yet. Our emergency fund stood at $1263.80, the amount over $1000 was a small amount of interest plus the remainder of the November extra paycheck. That $263.80 has now been transferred into our checking account. We also have about $300 left in our checking account which is the carryover from December (more on that when I do the December wrapup post in the next few days). So basically I have about $550 immediately available, plus $1000 on standby and transferable at a moment’s notice. I am hoping that’ll be enough. Again, I have no idea how bad this is.

And we were so close to having the credit card paid off. In fact, that ~$263 was going to be transferred to our checking account today and as soon as my car was fixed (the recall work, I mean), I was going to pay off the credit card with it. Now of course, we’ll be waiting on that to see what happens. So close yet now so far.

I am very thankful for the emergency fund. Hopefully it is enough. If not, we’ll be discussing our backup plans. I’m not sure what those are but we do have options, depending on what we decide is the lesser of all evils and how bad the damage really is. And we’ll be reassessing our whole emergency fund strategy. We were planning on doing that anyway as soon as the credit card debt was paid off. Now, we’ll be doing it just a little bit earlier.

Hello Murphy. Not so nice to meet you, but it could be under a lot worse circumstances, all told.

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17 Responses to “Holding Pattern – Emergency Fund on Standby”

  1. I feel y’all’s pain…Murphy messed with my car last month. Thankfully I do have a good mechanic now who talks to me like I actually have a brain under this blonde hair LOL and doesn’t charge an arm and a leg. I wish you the best of luck getting the car back on the road safely and with the least damage to your E-Fund!

  2. So sorry to hear of your Saturn woes. We have had our fair share of that type of event over the years. I just wanted to say that your blog has inspired me big time. I’ve been reading for several months now and for years have ignored or excused my way out of starting that savings account. DH kept saying we should wait to start one until we paid off the high interest credit card, I wanted to start one at the same time. After all, we can’t use that credit card since we shut down the credit line on it. Anyway – for Christmas we were given $125 in cash from people. I took it straight to the bank and opened a savings account along with $25 from our checking for an opening of $150. It’s small, but it’s a start and boy does it feel good.

    Thanks! Good luck on the car issues.

  3. I thought of you Ana when writing this post and your poor Pizza taxi. Glad it is all fixed!

    Karla – I’m glad that you’re starting an emergency fund and feeling good about it! As upset I am about this (and I am pretty upset, i am a planner and I still don’t know what is wrong with the car or what the financial damage will be) this morning I was thinking about if this had happened a year ago, and how BAD off we would be. There is no way we would have avoided using our credit card. here, we still have hope :)

  4. ::sigh:: That’s a sad story, but you do have the fund, which is better than the alternative, and you -will- persevere. You’ll get through it.


  5. Good luck with your car repair…I hope it isn’t too awful.

    Personally, I think that $1000 isn’t enough even for a small emergency fund. I do understand the rationale…have just enough to get you by, then throw everything else at the debt. But I’m not sure $1000 is “just enough’ because I’ve been hit with too many $1500 car repairs, or air-conditioners that die the same time as the toilet breaks and the car gets totaled an accident (That happened once, same week I was having a baby.)

    I sleep better with $3000 in the savings account at the local bank. THEN everything else goes to paying off (or keeping us out of) debt.

  6. I wish you guys had a good mechanic vs. the dealership as it usually is cheaper–that being said, I hope the repair is a minor one.

    I can sympahtize–had to take care in for maintenance work, but my mechanic discovered additional work needed to be done–went from $500 estimate to $800. But the work has to get done.

    Maybe it’s the wintertime and that’s why so many cars seem to need repairs.

  7. My car has been a budget breaker from the begining. I’ve started a car maintenance fund. Currently it only has $100 in it, but I’m going to try to get it up around $1000…for all of the incidentials my aging car requires.

  8. @SD – I started a car maintenance fund @ 100/month too this year built into my budget… well… it’ll be emptied before it even begins lol. I was hoping for a little more wiggle room than this heh.

    @Kathryn – I don’t know how much is ever enough. I’m still happy with the $1000 choice we made, but that choice is being re-examined. It was going to be re-examined this month anyway, but now it’ll be harsher. lol.

  9. Sorry to hear that “Murphy” is harassing you. Hopefully, it doesn’t hurt your E-Fund too much.

  10. That’s a bummer. I had to spend $722 on my car in December, but hopefully yours will end up being something simple and cheap. Best of luck!

    I also started a ‘car fund’ after that happened, but it will be a while before that builds up. My E-fund is also right around $1200 right now. Hopefully that isn’t some emergency fund unlucky number or something. :)

  11. Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! I’m so sorry to hear about your car. I hope it’s an easy and cheap fix *cross fingers*

    I also hope you find a reliable mechanic who you can trust.

  12. Gee I think I wrote this same post about our Saturn back in September. Only for us it was our transmission that had a piece break off of it, and because of that we needed a whole new transmission. I totally feel your pain, and it cost us over 3k to fix our Saturn also. We thought about selling the Saturn but it just wasn’t worth it at this time.

    I am sorry that this happened to you, when you were so close to paying off your credit card. Just hang in there a little longer, you’ll get it paid off.


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