I won't sugarcoat it. An unexpected life event can be a big pain in the bleep. Now consider if you had six or more unexpected life events is a short period of time like my family and I have. Unexpected life events can be stressful, impact your day to day life, and ultimately cost you some money.
I'm a firm believer that having a plan in place for most things can save you a lot of grief, pain, and money. But how do you plan for the unexpected? Well, you can't. Planning for a specific unexpected life event requires the ability to predict the future. If you happen to have that specialized skill, I'm sure you don't sweat the small stuff.
Most of us don't have a crystal ball to predict the future and avoid the unexpected, but with a little general planning and the right attitude, you can save yourself a lot of heartaches.
Our Recent Unexpected Life Events
Our downward spiral of unexpected life events started for us in mid-summer and continues. When the first event or two occurred, it seemed like no big deal, but after a few more happened, it seemed like life was piling on.
Here are our lists and details of unexpected life events that have happened over the past two months. Now I'm not providing this list to complain. I won't lie; it does help to vent, but it's more to illustrate just how home life can go sideways sometimes.
Our series of unfortunate events started with a flat tire on my car. My daughter was using my car to get home from work one weekend and called to tell me she got a flat. No problem. I've changed my share of tires in my life.
This one, however, was on the side of a main highway, certainly a bit trickier to change a flat when cars are driving by at 70 miles per hour. I ended up needing two new tires for $380.
Let me first say no one was hurt. That was my initial thought when I got the call from my wife that our daughter was in an accident. She was fine. She was stopped at a red light on her way to work, and the truck in front of her decision to change lanes, backing right into her gently used Honda.
The car was still drivable, but the front end was a mess. After our insurance company inspected it, the vehicle was deemed a total loss. The cost to repair was far higher than its value.
Being down a car hurts a bit when you have everyone in the house working different schedules, with a bit of juggling we managed until we received payment for the car, and found a replacement. We had to spend a little out of pocket money to cover taxes and inspection of the new to us vehicle. The total cost was $330.
Oil Tank and Oil Burner
We live in the Northeast, and many homes use oil heat. Our homes does too. For the last twenty years we have had our oil burner serviced, and typically carry a yearly service agreement policy with a local oil company.
This year we switched companies to save $0.59 per gallon on oil, but with the new company, comes an inspection of the equipment to make sure there is no outstanding issue before the agree to coverage.
Well, the inspection found some issues with both our oil burner and oil tank. We need a full tank replacement and repair to our burner. The jury is still out on final cost, because I'm getting serval opinions, and quotes, but it's in the range of $3000-$3500 to have everything fixed.
Let me just get out in front of this by saying I'm not a fan of the dentist.
Either is my wife, but she had some recent issues with a bridge. Her appointment did not go well, there was no way to repair her bridge, and with some other lingering issues, our dentist recommended dental implants.
He laid out three options for treatment, and the cost ranged between $11K-28K. Yes, you read that right, $28,000 to fix her teeth. She is currently seeking several opinions on treatment and cost.
In the span of three days both our toilets broke. Luckily it was nothing major, and with $20 in replacement parts, I was able to fix both.
We love our air fryer. It is convenient and easy to use. My wife and I were preparing dinner the other night, and our air fryer just died. I heard my wife sigh. It's just been one of those stretches for us. The good news is we purchased our air fryer at Costco, who has an excellent return policy.
What about the unthinkable? I'm sure we all heard stories of someone's untimely passing. A co-worker of my recently lost his son unexpectedly. It's heartbreaking to hear these types of stories.
The last thing you want to worry about when dealing with a tragedy, grieving, and healing is money. We won't make rational or smart decisions, and it's understandable because our minds are preoccupied.
It the main reason we have life insurance in place. It's also the reason I suggest others do too. Using a company like Bestow gives you the ability to obtain a quote in seconds. Insurance in minutes. It's that easy.
So, that's our list of unexpected life events. I hope I'm not adding to is anytime soon. From the small and mundane to slightly large. Here's how we are dealing with them all.
Have the Right Attitude
What's that saying? Attitude is everything. I made an attitude adjustment years ago, and it took a while to take hold. I used to let the littlest thing upset me and make me cranky.
Now I follow these:
- I don't let things outside of my control affect me.
- I don't let people that are not important in my life affect my mood or have control over me.
Following these rules, day to day can be tough, but I do my best to adhere. When I was faced with the above list of unexpected life events, I applied them often.
Stuff breaks, Could I have done anything more to prevent the oil burner or tank not to fail? Both are at least twenty years old and have been regularly maintained. There's really not much I could have done to prevent the issues. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
I could run this exercise for all of our unexpected life events list. The one that stands out is my wife's dental work. Could she have gone to the dentist earlier? Maybe she could have taken better care of her teeth? Both are possible, but I'm not going to second guess. She has some other things that contribute to the state of her teeth.
I would much rather spend energy on how to fix the problem than spend it on stressing out or second-guessing things.
Attitude is everything!
Have a Money Plan
All of our unexpected life events had a money component to them. Some big, some small, but all will cost us something. There are a few ways to hand an expected money event. The one I like the most is having cash on hand.
It's typically called an emergency fund, or life happens fund, etc. You can call it whatever you like, but having cash on hand really helps your attitude and insulates you when life comes calling.
What if you don't have enough cash to cover the unexpected item? Well, maybe you'll consider a small online loan, or delaying the replacement, repair, etc. of said issue.
All of these decisions are personal. There no one size fits all answer. You have to make sure it fits into your individual situation.
Whichever way you approach it, it best to not make a snap decision when stress or emotions are high. Taking this approach helps prevent regrets or overpaying. I've said it once, and I'll say it again attitude is everything.
Brian is a dad, husband, and an IT professional by trade. A Personal Finance Blogger since 2013 who, with his family, has successfully paid off over $100K worth of consumer debt. I want my three children to handle money better than I ever did at a young age. I have been teaching them as much as I can for the last 10 years. My goal is to continue to champion the financial literacy message and then why I created the “How To Rock Your Money” book. To help teenagers navigate their financial futures. I hope my family’s story of paying off over $100,000 worth of debt will inspire and motivate you to take control of your money. He blogs at BrianBrandow.com