Hello Swanigans! Welcome back and thanks for stopping by. Today I’m trying to figure out why bad things happen in threes…and sometimes fours. We’ve all heard the statement before and surely you have experienced it yourself. Isn’t it awful? Having one bad thing happen can make you feel unlucky, but three things in succession…well that can make you feel like the world is against you!
As you know from recent posts, I disregard advice from many financial experts and maintain a fairly aggressive stance toward managing my emergency fund. And by that I mean I maintain as little as possible and instead rely on Emergency Fund Alternatives. Over the last 10+ years this approach has never failed me, but that doesn’t mean my emergency fund / alternatives get utilized to an extent. While it may be the financial gods trying to stomp out my personal finance rebellion, ever since I detailed my stance on emergency funds I’ve hit a string of bad luck…
That’s what I’m going through right now, a string of bad luck! The first thing that went wrong was when my TV started to malfunction. If you read that post, you could probably tell I was bit upset. A nice, relatively new (a 5 year old TV still seems new to me) TV giving out was certainly a surprise and a bummer!
Then, just a few weeks after the TV, my wife was driving home from an appointment along a road that was undergoing construction. And wouldn’t you know, a rock bounces up and smokes the windshield leaving a chip and small crack (about the size of an inch). When I first saw it I was bummed, it was our new SUV and I hated seeing something like that happen to it already. But I thought at least it didn’t crack the whole windshield and we could fill it with the glass resin rather than replace the whole thing (approximately $60 rather than a few hundred) .
So I scheduled a local glass repair company come out the next day to see if they could fill it with the resin. They took one look at and said it was going to be tough and they’ll have a hard time getting the resin to fill in all the way to the end (but it was only an inch big!!!). Also, there was a risk in trying to fill it with the resin because the pressure put on the glass may cause it to crack further. I told them to give it a try, but sure enough all of a sudden I heard a pop sound and the windshield had splintered further!
Boom…not fixable…now requiring a full replacement…costs jumped a few hundred bucks! Tough luck, eh?
So that was the second in a string of bad luck, what will be the third (fourth…)?
I am by no means a plumber and although I love trying my hand at random DIY projects, nothing comes natural to me. But why not give it a shot, huh?
It all started a few months ago, I noticed the downstairs toilet sounded like there was a bit of a drip. There was nothing noticeable, no water accumulation or anything like that. Almost as if it is was still running, but not a full and constant run, just a slight drip. Sorry, that’s the best I can describe it…
So what did I do about it? I did what every non-plumber would do…I ignored it and hoped it would go away. Well it didn’t. The next water bill came and I noticed it was about $10-$15 higher than normal. I thought well it could be a slight, constant drip from the toilet that has accumulated to the higher bill, but we also had company over a few nights so maybe it was the extra shower use, etc…
So what did I do about it? I don’t want to sound too much like a broken record, but I ignored it and hoped it would go away. Next month…boom, the water bill almost doubled! When I saw that I went immediately to the toilet and turned the water off at the source (and sure enough the dripping noise stopped). I know what you’re thinking right now, why the H*** did I wait so long and what did I think was going to happen?! I asked myself the same thing…and so did my wife…
And that was third item in the string of bad luck. But wait, it gets better…I called a plumber in Los Angeles and after describing the situation he estimated it would cost about $125 in parts and labor. Really!? Couldn’t I buy a replacement toilet for that much!?
That’s where the DIY comes in…YouTube gave me some quick guidance and Amazon sold me the parts for $10. So fortunately I was able to fix this one with just a few more bucks and some sweat equity.
And the Fourth…
I had this post mostly written when the fourth item came along. I’m sad to report Lucy’s Grandpa has taken turn for the worse and has been transitioned to hospice care in his nursing home. He’s been suffering from Parkinson’s for years, but unfortunately it has progressed recently. He has been taken off his normal medication and hospice is now comforting him. While he is quite old and the family all new time wasn’t on his side, I imagine it will be very hard for them all, especially for Lucy’s Mom and Grandma.
Lucy flew home to spend a couple days with Grandpa. And we expect to all be flying back home again soon for a service. It is sad just writing this, but I hope I won’t be bringing sad news onto the blog often. Thanks for putting up with it.
My Lessons Learned
- I learned a couple lessons coming out of all this. First, in the wise words of Forrest Gump, “S*** happens”.
- Secondly, a lesson I shouldn’t have to learn more than once, don’t ignore problems like the toilet…they never fix themselves!
- And lastly, it reinforces to me why it is so important to be frugal and cost conscious on anything and everything within our power. My wife and I constantly look for new ways to save money and are always price shopping. All the savings we accrue either help build our retirement accounts or go toward the surprise expenses we can’t control or anticipate. While it stings paying thousands of dollars in repairs and expenses for the
threefour situations above, knowing we skimp and save wherever possible helps take some of the sting out.
How’d We Pay
In the last two weeks, I detailed my approach to managing my emergency fund and my alternatives to emergency funds. My approach is not conventional, and it is actually in stark contrast to the preaching of Dave Ramsey. At the time I was writing those, I certainly wasn’t expecting so many surprise expenses popping up to put my emergency fund plans in action. Maybe Dave Ramsey and the personal finance gods were trying to tell me something?
Some of the common reasons why emergency funds are important were listed in my recent posts including home repair, car repair, medical care and job loss. One that I did not include, but thought about at the time, was emergency travel. Out of these five, I am a bit shocked that we experienced three of them in the last month or so!
All told, the expenses will easily be a couple thousand dollars. We have been able to put all these charges on our credit card and cash flow enough to pay it off in full when due. Lucy’s flight was booked with credit card reward points. When we all fly back again (likely soon, but we’ll see) we will need to buy three tickets with the credit card (no more rewards available right now). And yes, three tickets, the little guy is over two years old and he will need his own seat now.
Have you had a similar string of bad luck with your personal finances? How did you manage to cope? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan
Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach