The hits continued as we slogged through 2010. And by hits, I mean emergencies. Big emergencies. Looking back, I cannot remember a year when we had so many unexpected expenses, one after another, without stopping. Rereading these posts I cannot believe at times that we just didn’t give up, but we knew we had to succeed. At this point (November) in our journey, the goal was strictly to get ourselves out of debt; other bigger motivational goals had yet to emerge.
One of the big lessons we took from all of this was that there is no one way to walk this path. One family might experience one or two small emergencies, while another might have things going wrong for them all the time. I remember reading Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover, and watching a couple of his videos at the beginning of our journey, and he made it all sound so easy. Beans and rice. Drive a beater. Gazelle intensity. Put $1000 away for possible emergencies. Well, $1000 can go pretty quickly when you have four major emergencies in a month. And it can be nearly impossible to restock that fund or pay down your debt when bad things continue to happen. Gazelles do eventually get tired. Based on the scenarios in Dave’s book, we should have been approaching the finish line at this point in 2010, but instead, it took us over two more years to finally get rid of all our debt.
Life happens. An unexpected turn helped get us into debt, and the road out was filled with twists and turns, ups and downs, and plenty of roadblocks along the way. That’s the story these books don’t tell you. As we discovered, there’s no easy or quick way to prepare for all the pitfalls either – you just meet them head-on, do or build what it takes to go on, and keep going.
If You Cut Us, Do We Not Bleed?
This whole thing with emergency expenses this year just has to be some kind of giant cosmic joke. I mean all I asked a few days ago is that we be allowed some time off to just catch our breath, and hopefully restock our emergency fund. I did not say, “Bring it on!”
However, this was apparently asking for too much because on Monday morning we woke up to another very sick dog (with a totally different illness). That trip to the vet and the medication cost us nearly $200, and she has to go back the day after Thanksgiving to make sure she will not be blind for life. It turns out she is no longer producing tears, so her eyes got irritated and became infected, poor thing. She will probably need to take medication for the rest of her life so she can make tears. Can you say $$$?
And then on Tuesday evening, just to make sure we were still paying attention, Brett’s laptop died. He went to turn it on, got a blue screen for a moment, heard a sizzle and a pop, then got a black screen and nothing. Thankfully everything is backed up, but this is something that has to be replaced and soon because he uses his laptop for work.
We, of course, have no emergency funds because the expenses just keep coming and we keep paying for them and can’t get anything back into the fund! And now, unless we break out the credit card, there goes our Christmas fund, our meet-the grandchild fund, and our daughter’s school trip fund to cover this latest round of emergency madness. Accelerated debt reduction? Not so much these days.
I cannot wait for this year to be over!
(Apologies to Shakespeare, but we feel like it’s gone beyond mere pricking.)
Sadly, things did not get better after this, at least not right away. Brett did not get a new computer for a few months. Our dog did need medication for the rest of her life; we somehow fit that into the budget. And, I’m not sure how we did it, but we did not use up our special funds nor did we put any of these expenses on a credit card. I don’t remember what we did at this point. All I know now is that we kept going.