Have you ever had “one of those weeks”? Well, I’m having one right now… Within the past week, we discovered that our minivan needs major repairs, and I also learned that I need some major dental work. The grand total will wind up being close to $4k, though our dental insurance should knock that back a bit.
For starters, we drive a 2004 Odyssey with roughly 125k miles on it. Despite having stuck to the recommended maintenance schedule, we’ve had warning lights and error codes over the past six months that have revealed possible transmission trouble. Swapping out the part that triggered the original warning light helped temporarily, but the warning light ultimately came back on.
We ended up replacing the transmission fluid (even though it wasn’t due for a change) and that seemed to solve the problem. Phew. Score one for the good guys, right? Wrong. On Mother’s Day, the check engine light came on and a quick trip to the local auto parts store (where they check engine codes for free) revealed a problem with the torque converter.
On Monday morning, I took it in and learned that our transmission is shot. Our options were to have it rebuilt or to replace it. We opted for the rebuild, which means we’ve been without our minivan this week. Since there are six of us, and we can’t all fit in my car, we had to rent a replacement. Despite my best efforts to find a cheap car rental, we ended up having to spend around $250 for the week.
All told, this little adventure will cost us around $2750 – $2500 for the rebuild, and $250 for the car rental.
As if the transmission troubles weren’t enough, I somehow broke a tooth last week. I have no idea how it happened, but it did. One minute I was eating cereal, the next minute I noticed a sharp edge on the insider of one of my molars. During an emergency trip to the dentist, I learned the bad news – I need a crown. Yikes.
Beyond being unpleasant, having a tooth crowned is also quite costly. The estimated total is around $1200. While our dental insurance should cover 80% of that (once we meet our deductible), I either have to wait for pre-approval, or I need to pay up front and wait for a refund. Fortunately, we’re in a position where I can do the latter and get it taken care of right away.
The value of an emergency fund
If you’ve ever questioned the wisdom of having money set aside for emergencies, I’m hoping that this post will change your thinking. We’re paying for these expenses from cash on hand. Sure, our savings account will take a bit of a hit, but we sure as heck won’t be racking up credit card debt to cover the costs.
What about you? Are you in a position to cover unforeseen expenses such as these? If not, what are you doing to change that? Do yourself a favor and start building up a cash cushion. It might take awhile to get there, but you’ll be glad you did when that rainy day inevitably comes along.