When it comes to finances, my mom has always had a mantra:”When it rains, it pours.” In the last couple months, I found that to be absolutely true.
Let me start by saying that I absolutely hate dealing with money (and cars…spoiler alert!). My knowledge of finances stops at bill paying and savings and I cringe when I hear the words “investment” or “401K.” Nikko, on the other hand, reads about investments…FOR FUN. He loves talking about maxing out retirement funds and his heart flutters when he talks about Roth IRAs (whatever those are). Despite my utter hatred for dealing with it all, I’ve been reminded as of late how life happens and how necessary it is to be in good financial standing.
It all started with a car accident that happened all of 100 yards from our apartment building. I was heading home during my 4 MINUTE COMMUTE from work to home. I was driving a roundabout that I take daily and a car fails to yield to me in the circle and hits me. Nobody was hurt but the inconvenience of not having a car for a couple weeks just because someone “didn’t see me coming” when there’s one direction of traffic was beyond frustrating. Initially we thought the damage was completely fixable and the assessor said so too for a few grand. A couple days later, I got a call saying it was a total loss. I was absolutely dumbfounded. I had had my car since high school and she still had so much life left in her. With mixed emotions, Nikko and I started shopping for a new car with the money we got from insurance, but it was of course not enough to cover the used car that we wanted. Thanks to our savings, we were ready to pay for the car in full on the spot.
A month goes by and the impending doom of the DMV visit for titling and plates approaches as our 30-day permit nears expiration. Complicated military circumstances (new state, new last name, buying in IL and registering in MO) made this even more daunting of a task. I finally get around to it a day before expiration on a Tuesday morning that I luckily had free of meetings. I started at the DMV at 7:30am. OF COURSE I didn’t have everything I needed in the first shot so a couple back and forth trips to City Hall and Jiffy Lube and I was FINALLY able to get my plates and new license around 12 noon. BUT not without a first time registration fee that made my jaw hit the ground! Again, thanks to our savings we were covered.
Eventually I got into work after the DMV fiasco. When I got in the car to go home, my tire pressure light was on. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! IN 100 DEGREE ST. LOUIS HEAT?! THIS TIRE SHOULD BE EXPANDING IF ANYTHING! I checked my tires and saw they were still drivable so I headed home. Later that night, Nikko and I were going to go for a Target run. We took the new car and I was reminded of the tire pressure issue. We drove all of 20 feet and Nikko listened to the whir of the tires. He told me to pull over and got out to check it out and wouldn’t you know?! There was a ¾ in bolt pierced into the tire. And to make matters worse, we never made it to Target. I CAN’T CATCH A BREAK. I literally started crying in frustration. I kid you not. Luckily, Nikko was there to calm me down. After a call with USAA – wouldn’t you know they offer roadside assistance and free tows – and a trip to Midas, we found out that the hole from the bolt was so massive that they couldn’t patch it. We had to get a new tire. This expense was not as pricey as the formers but just another straw on the camel’s back.
If you asked me a couple months ago, if I thought I’d have a new (used) car, I would have said “NO WAY JOSE! My car is just fine.” But the truth of the matter is you never know what’s going to happen. It’s best to plan for the worst when it comes to finances. Here are a couple of the financial lessons Nikko has taught me that helped us with the car situation:
1. Pay off debts.
If you have the money available, you should always prioritize paying off your debts. Being debt-free is a wonderful feeling and something you should absolutely be proud of. If the money is not available, can you reprioritize your current expenditures to free up some funds? Ask yourself if the things you currently spend money on (ie eating out, shopping, gym membership) are really truly necessary.
2. Maintain at least a $10k liquid emergency fund at all times.
Just like my car situation, you never know what tomorrow will bring. It could be anything from a family medical emergency to an emergency flight that needs to be booked. It’s best to always be prepared for whatever life throws at us.
While these may seem obvious, it’s easier said than done. It is well and widely known that money is the number one cause of divorce. And while our different attitudes toward finances may cause riffs from time to time, I know that I have so much to learn from him. But as I see his lessons paying off, I’m more inclined to listen. This was the first of what I’m sure will be many financial “blows” to come but it’s comforting to know that we will always be ready no matter what comes our way. Bring it on life!