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Thoughts For Thursday: I Need A Bailout!

September 23, 2010 · 37 comments

in Personal Finance, Thoughts For Thursday

Do you ever have a budget, and just blow it?

Do you ever think “my credit card bill will be low this month because I shouldn’t have any big expenses” and it turns out you are just plain wrong?

Well, both those statements apply to me, as the last few months have been rough financially.  Not “oh no I lost my job” rough, but just more because of unexpected expenses.  Here are a few:

  1. Laptop:  In June, my cruddy HP laptop blew up out of the blue.  It was all of 18 months old, it was just a baby.   But, it was stubborn and just stopped working.  Had to take the beast to the Geek Squad for a backup and got a diagnosis of “bad motherboard”.  Bye bye HP,  hello Sony Vaio.  Cost:  $700 with extended warranty.  (Not normally a fan of the extended warranty, but since I was just saddled with bad laptop luck, I thought I better pay for it this time.)
  2. Wisdom Teeth:  Earlier this year, my oldest son’s wisdom teeth decide to mature early and threaten the beautifully straightened teeth I had already paid so much money for.  Of course, this was diagnosed after we had decided how much to budget in the Health Care Account.  Wisdom teeth were extracted in August.  Cost:  $998.
  3. Desktop Computer:  Three weeks ago, my desktop was a victim of the blue screen of death.  (BSOD).  This is a nasty little problem.  I spent hours trying to fix it, and nothing worked.  Carried the giant tower to the Geek Squad.  Diagnosis:  You are screwed because this is so old.  So long Dell desktop, hello Toshiba Satellite.  Cost:  $500.
  4. Bad Driving:  We bought a third car recently, which is a story for another day.  Anyway, the spare car was parked at the bottom of our driveway.  Well, it was raining and I was adjusting the wipers while backing out of the garage.  Next thing you know, I hear crashing and crunching – I had hit our third car.  I couldn’t have been going more than 8 mph, but it crumpled the hood and ruined the bumper.  My beloved Taurus X suffered minimal damage.  Car is sent to body shop.  Cost:  $500.  (Damage was $2600, but that is what insurance is for.  Insurance company told me this happens all the time, which is kind of surprising as I felt like the biggest idiot on earth.  I will say that I at least checked to make sure there were not any children around before I started the car… )

Needless to say, none of these items were in the budget.  Money is just flying out the door at a record pace, and it is getting frustrating.  There are so many things I would rather have than a crumpled hood and a Tupperware container full of wisdom teeth.  (Where is that tooth fairy anyway?  I am sick of looking at those teeth.)

So, I need a spending break.  If these unexpected events keep happening, I will be forced to ask for some sort of special bailout loophole to be created just for me.

Do these things ever happen to you?   I hope not, but if they have, feel free to share!

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole September 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

I did the car thing to a neighbor’s car when I was 17. My entire summer earnings went to fix that (my father paid them upfront and I paid him back).

I am currently waiting for the plumber to fix the drip in the bathroom shower. We’ve seen many other house repair people over the past month and a half. Though my sweet husband managed to fix the circuit board on the broken washing machine all by himself– turns out electrical engineers can do household repairs! (Though he says the leading cause of death among electrical engineers is electrocution from home repairs… apparently the color coding on the wires is different or something)

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Nicole – your accident at 17 was way more costly than mine, that must have been awful. However, I bet you never did that again!

When it comes to home repairs, we always call a service guy. My husband is great at his job at work, but I could never risk appliances or electrical repairs!

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Nicole September 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I don’t think it was that much more costly… part-time minimum wage doesn’t pay much.

Last time DH tried to fix the plumbing very bad things happened. So we spend $80 every time there’s a drip. Except toilets– we’re both pretty good at fixing those.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 23, 2010 at 9:00 am

Wow Kris, those are some major computer problems you’ve been having, and the car damage too (yuck!). I’m sorry that you are having such misfortune. When I have faced large unexpected expenses or setbacks, I try to go back to the big picture. Overall, have we made any progress? I find focusing on the good often helps my outlook.

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Well, I have not been a big fan of the year 2010, so I am hoping 2011 will be great.

Looking at the big picture has saved me, and also looking at how other people have it. But I do cringe when I pay that credit card bill off every month.

The silver lining is that I love my Sony Vaio, whereas I hated my HP laptop. That’s good, right?

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Yes… with so much of your life spend on the internet, having a computer you like definitely constitutes a silver lining in my book.

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Deedee September 23, 2010 at 9:28 am

Well, I am another person who has backed into their own car. Was driving our newest vehicle (had only owned it 3 months) and backed up in the driveway (as I had done every single day for years without problems) straight into our pickup truck. Truck was fine, new car not so much. This happened about five years ago.

And I have found that there are times in life where one thing after another goes wrong. I hope your round of bad luck is ending now so you can catch up. We’ve been cruising along fine for a couple of years now until last week when the hot water went out ($400 repair) the dryer vent was blocked ($125 to clean out) the front outdoor faucet was leaking badly (actually included in the $400 bill above). And we had to buy a new bed as my daughter took hers with her when she moved back to college into her first apartment. So hopefully our round is over now as well.

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Deedee – You are having an awful string of bad luck too! As much as I hate that you hit your own car, I am glad I am not alone at least. I felt so dumb, and I still don’t know how I could have hit it.

Let’s hope both our financial lives take a turn for the better! I hope your water heater didn’t cause any damage.

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Sandy L September 23, 2010 at 10:14 am

My last year was like that…and then I realized that we have been in our house for 10 years. We bought a lot of things for the house when we moved in and then they all started to break at the 5 and 10 year mark. (like our washer, our computer, our Camcorder, 2 lawnmowers..and a bunch of other stuff). After that I decided I needed to make a durable goods budget because if you really add all of it up, it’s a lot when you include cars and appliances and electronics. I now know how much I need to save a year to cover all those pesky expenses, but haven’t implemented a separate account yet. I can email you my spreadsheet if you want, but the monthly savings goal cost was depressing.

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Sandy, you know that is a good idea. I should create a ‘maintenance’ account over at Smarty Pig to cover these expenses. Thanks for the thought!

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Squirrelers September 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I have dealt with a few of these types of “unexpected” expenses.

Last year, I accidentally bumped into a parked car. It was hidden behind a huge snowbank, and I hit the corner of it. In my over 20+ years of driving, I had never gotten into an accident…until this silly one. I was out a few hundred dollars.

I now figure that we should all budget for these so-called unexpected expenses, because they WILL happen. We just don’t know exactly WHAT form they will take:)

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Squirreler – My expenses seem to be taking many forms, and you are right, creating a budget for them is a good idea. Part of it is each month, I am so excited because I think it will be a cheap month. Then something stupid happens. So mad I create my own stupid expense with the car, but life happens. At least you had a snowbank excuse. 🙂

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Crystal @ BFS September 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Don’t feel too bad, it happens to all of us. You know all the crud I’ve had to lay out money for. I’ve also back into a friend’s car. Luckily I just hurt his mirror (ahem-knocked it off) and he didn’t care once we popped it back on, but it could have been much worse! I’m just not used to backing up without my normal empty driveway…

Come to think of it, it has been a few years since we had our round of broken stuff, so I need to make sure we have some money ready when it happens! It comes in waves…

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 1:45 pm

BFS – the mirror popped back on? That’s pretty cool. I just picture it hanging there like my husband’s mirror was vandalized because it was parked in the street. (Which is why the car was in the driveway in the first place instead of the street.)

When the car is back from the shop, I am going to take my chances and put it in the street. Let’s hope I don’t have to write another post regarding the consequences of that!

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Invest It Wisely September 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm

A few days after I got my new car, I backed up right into a rugged concrete wall when leaving the convenience store. The wall was only about 3 feet high and I couldn’t see it at all from the rearview mirror; I only saw the street. I thought I was backing up into the street until the car suddenly stopped! There was no real damage but my bumper was all scratched up. 🙁

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Yikes – a concrete wall. That must have been quite jarring. Even though the bumper was only scratched, it must have driven you crazy since it was a new car. I am sure you are not the only one that has hit that wall. That is a terrible height for a cement structure.

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etinca September 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I know all the ‘crumple zones’ on cars save lives in major accidents, but they sure do jack up the cost in minor ones!

And I join the others (& now you) in this demonstrating the need for an emergency or repair/replacement fund. Which you immediately begin building back up to the full amount if you have to use some of it. Part of it needs to be the amount of your deductible and/or copay expenses under your insurance plans – as that amount is predictable even though the timing may not be. Part would be for a replacement computer (begin saving up for the next one as soon as you buy one). You don’t necessarily have to add up all expenses that might hit you, but more on hand is always better than less when you have a run of luck like this!

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Well I am glad the crumple zones save lives because they sure crumple easily and can be expensive. I just hope it crumples properly if someone is actually going at a decent rate of speed.

I am working on setting up my ‘unexpected expenses’ fund tomorrow!

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Lola September 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I definitely feel for you! The hubs and I have each had a “reverse” adventure in a car – it sounds like just about everybody else has as well. We now have a car that beeps when you’ve backed up within 3 ft of something behind you and then beeps faster as you get closer – I love that!

Probably our biggest streak of bad luck was a two day run when we had just moved into our present house: the air conditioning unit went out, we drove over a nail that embedded into a brand new tire and made it go flat, and then a violent storm came through and knocked down a tree in our backyard. We worked out a deal with the warranty on the AC and our homeowner’s insurance paid for the rest of the tree (at least those were the days of $100 deductibles), and the tire patched up mostly OK. It was discouraging, but all fixable.

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Lola – that sounds like a horrible two days! I am so glad the fallen tree didn’t hurt anyone.

I imagine that was a really busy couple of days!

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Rebecca September 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I share your pain. It’s been an expensive year around here too. But you got me to thinking… We’ve also managed to save in unexpected ways. I started to detail it all here, but it quickly morphed into a post of its own. The short version is that while we had $2150 in unexpected expenses, we’ve also managed to save $2700 by doing things ourselves, which puts us $550 ahead of the game! So here are the details: http://open.salon.com/blog/the_almighty_beckster/2010/09/23/spending_and_saving

Thanks for getting me thinking!

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 9:39 pm

My job is to make people think! 🙂 I need to check out your post!

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Money Reasons September 23, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I know where you are coming from! I had to pay $800+ last month for a new lawnmower and then in the same week, an idle control replacement for wife’s car. And this was right after coming back from vacation!!! Grrr

It seems like a dark cloud hovers over me, and rains on me when I think I’m doing well.. and surprisingly, the color of the rain is yellow. hmmm.

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Kris September 23, 2010 at 9:41 pm

That is some bad rain Money Reasons! So did you hang on to Mean Green or whatever your mower was called? Or has he been recycled somewhere?

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Carol@inthetrenches September 23, 2010 at 11:19 pm

My condolences. The post would have been funny if Adam Sandler had done all those things. Since it was you…so sorry. Even a great budget plan gets battered sometimes.

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The Biz of Life September 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm

The wife and kids blow my budgets with little to no help from me. Why don’t you try installing Linux on your old computer as long as you don’t have hardware problems…. promise you won’t see a blue screen of death.

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Kris September 27, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Biz – thanks for the suggestion, I forgot the BSOD is tied to Windows. I need to read up on this!

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Little House September 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I thought my vet bill last month was a budgeting crisis. But now I really feel for you! Hopefully the fall will bring fewer unexpected bills and more windfalls!

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Kris September 27, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Thanks Little House! Hoping your expenses are minimal too!

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Heather September 27, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I was diagnosed with cancer.

While in treatment, our back room started falling off (yes, actually separating from the house).

It turned out we had “the worst sewer leak I’ve ever seen” in our kitchen and no footers under the back room.

In the mean time, the pool wall cracked. After draining it, a guy came to look at it, and we learned that it was about two inches thick (should have been 6-8).

Understatement of the year: it wasn’t a good summer.

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Kris September 27, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Heather – Oh my gosh, that is all horrible! I just read about how expensive pool repairs can be. What are you going to do since it is so thin?

More importantly than money, I hope your health is ok. Thanks for commenting.

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Heather September 27, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Fortunately, it was all three years ago. I had owned a condo that I sold (about a year after the height of the bubble) and made just enough money on to repair the leak, put in a footer, prop the room back up, and replace the pool. All of the repair estimates we got were over $10K and were guaranteed for less than a year. For just under $20K, we could have a new pool, so that’s what we did. We had had other plans for the money, but we were lucky to have it at the time.

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Kris September 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm

So you have a nice new pool now? Are you feeling ok? (If you don’t mind me asking…)

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Heather September 27, 2010 at 10:17 pm

We *do* have a nice new pool. And we saw it as it was being built. The sides are eight inches thick 🙂

I am feeling great! (I don’t mind you asking.) Cancer came and cancer went. (OK, it wasn’t *quite* that simple…) I still have some lingering side effects, three years later, but I’m completely functional, more active than most around me. Two years after being admitted to the hospital, I finished my first triathlon. Amazing amazing amazing experience. I’ve gotten into personal training now to try to help other people who’ve been through cancer hell and want to reclaim their bodies (though currently, none of my clients are cancer survivors). I’m still not as strong as I used to be, and my cardio endurance is still down (the triathlons have been slow 😉 ), but I’m out and movin’ around!

Let’s see… I blogged through cancer: heatherscancer.blogspot.com if you want to look. I don’t post very often any more (hooray!), but it’s still there.

More of my story is on my business website: http://www.secondchancefit.com — go to the “About” tab.

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Khaleef @ KNS Financial September 27, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I know exactly how you feel. Things have been coming up left and right for us!

Oh, and I’m sure that someone crashing into their 2nd or 3rd car is very common. Don’t feel bad about that.

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Kris September 27, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Khaleef – thanks for trying to make me feel better. They did tell me it was common, but I still felt like an idiot. 🙂

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