Every fall, I climb the ladder several times to blow the leaves off of the roof and out of the gutters. One Saturday morning in November, I had just got on the roof and was turning on the blower when Eli, one of my twins, came running out of the house yelling, “Dad, Dad! Ethan pooped.”
Now, probably for most families, this is not a huge deal, but in my family, this is a call for celebration. Ethan is one of the many children who will not go on a regular basis – his record for not going is 17 days (he got a stay in the hospital for that)! So, it was good news, but also meant Dad would have to come and flush – another requirement in our house so that the toilets do not break. Since it only takes 15 minutes or so to deal with the leaves, I told Eli I would come in when I got finished with the leaves.
Not even 5 minutes later, Ethan came out yelling, “DAD, DAD, I POOPED!” The leave blower was on so he had to yell louder than his brother. And now the whole neighborhood knew what Ethan did. I told him good, do not flush and I will deal with it when finished.
I was informed of this accomplishment 4 times before I got done with the leaves. I went in and prepared to flush the toilet. Only my preparations did not work the way I expected. I worked on getting the toilet to flush correctly for over 30 minutes before going to the hardware store to buy a snake. After that failed, I was back for Liquid Plummer. The day was becoming more costly as the morning wore on.
What derails the budgeting process is the unexpected expenses that come every month. Sometimes these expenses can be “emergencies” as when the furnace goes out on the coldest day of the year, or the brakes fail on the car, or illness comes into our homes. These additional expenses can be frustrating as our planned budget does not match reality any more. And when this occurs, many people stop the budgeting process because it is too hard.
We all know life will not go exactly as planned. The unexpected will happen at the most inconvenient time. Murphy’s Law always occurs when we are ill prepared. When making out your budget each month, know things will not go exactly as planned.
These unexpected expenses will seem to come less frequently when you are prepared. By making sure you have a fully funded emergency fund (3-6 months of non-discretionary expenses) along with another savings account, the minor and major unexpected expenses do not derail your financial plan.
If you do not have an emergency fund, start one today. If you do not have any savings at all, get $1,000 into your savings account as fast as you can. This starter emergency fund will help ensure an unexpected expense does not cause panic in your house.
Unexpected expenses are not always disasters. The afternoon of my leaving blowing experience became more expensive than I thought. I went to the Super-Sectional Volleyball game for Class A schools. The winner would go to state. My daughter Cara was playing with her Lutheran teammates. By then advancing to the Elite 8, there were several additional games I did not anticipate. There was more travel and admission fees – and of course I was not going to miss any of them. Lutheran played well but lost the Elite 8 game which may have been a blessing as that saved hotel and travel expenses to state.
We then traveled to Peoria to watch Kiersten and Lincoln Land Community College play against Illinois Community College to see who would go to the national tournament. Again, more admission and travel and food! But, in a thrilling 5 set match, LLCC won and I realized my volleyball expenses were far from being done. I had a road trip to West Virginia coming.
My November budget did not have any of these expenses included in it. Christmas shopping was coming and now I had a 4 day trip to plan. But, with my savings, we were able to stay on track and I was able to watch LLCC come in 2nd in the National NJCAA Volleyball Championship.
Know the unexpected will happen. Do some preplanning and building up your savings to withstand some of the unexpected. At times you will have to “punt” and figure out something different. But, if you get on a budget and follow it, the unexpected will not seem so bad any more.