Today was a perfect example of why all of the personal finance whiz kids tell you to have emergency funds set-up that are separate from your regular savings.
For a Monday, I was feeling pretty productive. I had vowed that I was going to start getting back on the wagon after weeks of slacking/being sick. I got up early and I dove into work (I was actually supposed to go for a run but I wasn’t feeling quite that motivated so I opted to just not sleep late. Baby steps, people).
I should have known something was up when my laptop didn’t turn on right away. Then, only a couple of hours into a record-breaking work day, my computer informed me that I was going to have to plug it in or my battery was going to die.
“But you ARE plugged in,” I informed my non-sentient piece of machinery.
I checked all of the connections. Yep, definitely plugged in. Apparently that took too long though because in the time that it took me to hum and haw over the problem my battery decided to call it a day.
I chose to look on the bright side: my uber early and productive start to the day meant that I could afford the time that it was going to take to find a solution. I hoped it was just a dead adapter and not something more serious. My laptop is about four years old and I tried to suppress the thought that it might finally be time to replace it.
Which, naturally, was not something I had budgeted for.
Because that’s how these things work: You’re never expecting something like this to just happen, which is why having an emergency fund is important (it’s also how I wound up with this laptop in the first place, so you’d think I would have learned my lesson by now….)
Generally a proper emergency fund isn’t really for things like this, but rather it’s a safety net to cover your most important life expenses (food, shelter, etc. for roughly 6 to 8 months) should you find yourself unable to work (laid off, sick, etc). The idea is that having this pool of money will prevent you from having to go deep(er) into debt or dip into the money you’ve saved for your future just to keep yourself afloat until you can get back on your feet. Easier said than done of course but, for reasons that should be obvious, it’s a smart idea.
Along the same vein, it’s also not a bad idea to set up other pools of emergency money for more specific things in life that tend to require financial attention, sometimes unexpectedly. This can includes your car, your pets and, yes, even your can’t-do-my-job-without-it technology.
Thankfully I was right about it being an adapter issue. No $500 repair job or unexpected new machine for me. Still, after I picked up the replacement part, I the whole drive home kicking myself: Why don’t I have a fund for stuff like this? Why don’t I back my computer up more often? Why am I not doing the preventative maintenance on my machine that will help make sure it lasts longer?
I’m pretty lucky: This obviously could have been a lot worse. I guess this is one of those wake-up call moments. If I’m smart, I’ll start being a bit more proactive in taking care of my assets and start saving for those unforeseen disaster moments. Whew…
What about you? Have you ever been caught by an unexpected emergency? Have past situations like this encouraged you to be more proactive or is disaster a hard-learned lesson for you too? Don’t feel bad: we’re all friends here