But seriously: Can I get by without an emergency fund?

A dramatization of stress

If you have been following my more recent posts, they relate to budgeting, money-management, and learning more about my personal relationship with money.

The importance of an emergency fund is no joke. However, according to Next Advisor, 40% of Americans do not even have the funds to cover a $400 emergency, and 70% of the people in my age group continue to live paycheck to paycheck – more than any other generation, says Business Insider.

I fall into this category…so, are you ready to hear all about my June?

June has been a doozy. The giant tree in our backyard has been a problem since we moved here in 2018 and during one of our more recent windstorms, a large branch fell and damaged a part of our neighbors’ fence. Ironically, we had been on a waiting list since early spring and the tree was removed Wednesday, exactly 2 weeks since the branch fell.

Just prior to the branch incident, we were not sure if we could afford to have it removed because we were faced with exorbitant summer childcare costs that were roughly equal to the quote for the tree removal. But after the storm, we knew it just had to be done somehow, despite the projected childcare fees. We’d make it work, we would just have to be extra careful with our funds from here on out.

I have been working with the neighbors related to insurance claims and options. Because the deductible for their homeowner’s insurance is about $1,000 less than mine, they will claim their insurance if the quote for the repairs exceeds that and I will reimburse them for their deductible. If it is less, I will pay for the repairs out of pocket.

Two days later, my wife unexpectedly lost her job. Guess what? We were not prepared; we do not have 3-6 months of income in our savings accounts to rely on. Just over $5,000 went to the tree removal because if that tree had eventually decided to fall, it would have damaged a lot more or even hurt people.

We are not the only people in this shitty boat. Take my plan for what it is, dismiss it entirely, or use it as ideas or advice…but with a giant grain of salt because we are only in the beginning of what could potentially be a crisis. The thing is – I am an eternal optimist and financial troubles I have had in the past have always been resolved with a good attitude, creativity, and elbow grease. There was a time where I was uncertain about my ability to feed myself and suddenly, circumstances shifted and I was able to buy groceries and feel very blessed. I still remember that day and how it felt, pushing my shopping cart into Price Chopper like I was the beneficiary of a miracle.

Note: we have a small amount of money saved, but certainly not enough to get by without making changes.

Our plan:

  • As my wife is not working, that saves us nearly $5,000 in childcare costs. She gets to spend the bulk of summer being with them, making up for lost time, and decompressing from a super stressful and thankless job. Prior to her termination, she had purchased season passes for her and the kids to the Great Escape and pool passes to our local JCC. These can be enjoyed all summer long, with packed lunches. We also have kayaks, the Mohawk River right down the road, bicycles, and the Hudson Mohawk Bike Trail. We can have an amazing summer on the cheap by enjoying what we have.

  • Removal of excess memberships/subscriptions. Goodbye, Peloton and much of our TV subscriptions.

  • Better meal planning. What’s on sale? What can we buy in bulk and freeze for later? What’s fresh right now at the farmer’s markets? What can we roll from one meal into another? What’s in our pantry now that we can get creative with?

  • Focus on our garden. Soon we will have green beans, tomatoes, salad greens, kale, cucumbers, peppers, berries and other goodies to eat. For the ability to have this during what will be a challenging time, we are very blessed.

  • Continuation of decluttering efforts. What can we sell that we aren’t using and don’t truly need? While this doesn’t bring in a lot of money, I currently do have the equivalent of two week’s worth of grocery money sitting in my Mercari account from online sales. (Here’s a link to my Mercari listings and a link to my website where I sell handmade home decor.)

  • Being mindful of energy costs. Hanging more laundry, keeping the A/C at a reasonable level, paying attention to lights. Keeping curtains nearly closed when the days are sunny and hot to keep the air inside cooler.

While overall watching our personal spending, especially impulsive buys during times of stress – this is what we have so far and it is subject to additions and revisions as time goes on. We are determined to have a nice summer and rethink how we live and spend. I’ll keep you all posted as we navigate this weird and unknown time.

But for now? I’m signing off and headed to the pool with the family – the best place to be on a stifling hot day.

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