Why You Need An Emergency Fund

by Lee Distad

It’s often said that trouble comes in threes. This past weekend, I narrowly avoided not one, but three expensive bills.

On Friday, the washing machine broke down; it wouldn’t drain, leaving the drum and the laundry full of water. Fortunately, I was able to open it up and disconnect the pump from the hoses.

Inside, I found a wooden splinter obstructing the pump. After reassembling it, the washer was working fine.

On Saturday, our furnace stopped working. When the guy from the gas company came, he said that the sensor had crapped out and would need to be replaced. The cost of getting the part, and getting another tech to come on the weekend, would run several hundred dollars.

But just as he said that, he spied an object sitting on top of the hot water tank, right next to the furnace.

It was the part we needed! It was covered in dust, and honestly, was there when we bought the house five years ago. I have no idea how or why the original homeowner left it there in plain sight, but it was only my basic laziness that meant I had never moved it or thrown it away. Saved!

On Sunday, the toilet in the master bathroom was leaking. In order to provide some back-story, I’ve replaced various parts on that toilet repeatedly over the past five years, so much so that I started to wonder if it was cursed or haunted.

As I result, I wondered if this was going to be the time that a band-aid solution wasn’t going to work, and I would have to replace the toilet with a new one. This time, it was just that the nut connecting the water line to the flow valve was loose, and required tightening.

Preparing for the Worst

I had three strikes of bad luck this past weekend, balanced out by three strokes of good luck. But it got me to thinking: what if each of those situations had ended up to be worse than that?

What if I needed a service call and a new part for the washing machine, the furnace, and I needed to go buy a new toilet and install it, all at the same time?

Financially, that would suck. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would mean spending close to a thousand dollars that I don’t just have lying around “just in case.” That means it would have to come out of another budget, probably one earmarked for a new furnace, since the current one is fifteen years old, low efficiency and at a stage where it’s living on borrowed time.

Having to shell out for three catastrophes in one weekend would set back my new furnace plans.

The bottom line is that, as a responsible adult, you need to have an emergency fund for when unexpected bad situations occur. Alternately, having access to an open line of credit is another resource, although not as good a one as using cash.

Preparing for the worst doesn’t necessarily mean living in a bunker with a supply of canned food, guns, and ammo. But it does mean keeping funds earmarked for emergencies around.

And “we’re out of beer!” isn’t the kind of emergency I mean.

About the author: Lee Distad consults with CE integration firms on design, installation and project management processes and Best Practices, and offers provides professional copy writing services for websites, brochures, and marketing initiatives. Visit him at www.leedistad.com.

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