I had spent the evening coaching a couple on the importance of having an emergency fund, especially as they tried to start a new family. They didn’t have an emergency fund and owned an older home that needed repairs, especially a new roof. They seemed to hear the words coming out of my mouth, but I don’t think they were willing or ready to make life changes in order to prepare for any emergencies.
After the session, I was exhausted but came home to work on my own family’s finances after everyone had gone to bed. After 10 minutes, I started hearing water dripping from upstairs. I thought maybe my 3 year old son had woken up and had forgotten to turn the faucet off. I came upstairs to see that there wasn’t any water running in his bathroom. Then I realized that the noise was coming from my master bathroom. I went into the bathroom and found that I had accidentally left the faucet running!
Usually this mistake would have been an easy fix – just turn off the faucet and have a slightly more expensive water bill. However, I had procrastinated in telling my husband about the slowly clogged drain on my side of the sink for two weeks. So what would have been an non-issue turned into a minor disaster – water had overflowed from the sink to the bathroom tile floor and under the wood cabinet because the drain was so clogged!
I quickly grabbed several towels to wipe up the water from the counter, cabinet, and floor. It had been maybe 10 minutes so thankfully there wasn’t water over the entire bathroom floor. After I cleaned that up, I went back downstairs to wrap up my work and then went to bed.
The next morning, I was walking into my home office when I noticed that the water had leaked all the way down to the ceiling above my dining room and the ceiling was completely wet with a complete outline of all my water pipes. One portion of the ceiling looked like it was about to cave from all the water. I was mortified and had to wake up my husband at 7am on a Sunday morning to sheepishly tell him that there was a major water leak and our dining room ceiling was about to cave in.
We called our repair guy who thankfully picked up at 7:30am and agreed to come over that morning. Needless to say, it was a major damage and he had to cut a hole in the ceiling to drain the water.
That morning, I took a picture of my dining room ceiling and sent it to the couple who I had met with the night before, with the caption – “This is why you need an emergency fund. This just happened to me last night.” The husband replied with “OMG. How did this happen?”
It took two days to dry everything out before our handyman could replace my entire dining room ceiling. All of this cost me just over $900.
I was really surprised that my husband was not more upset with me for my mistake. However, he knew it wasn’t intentional and also said that’s why we have an emergency fund. Very true, however I wish I didn’t have to use it on something so preventable. His reply was that maybe it happened to us so that I can share with my clients the importance of having an emergency fund. And perhaps this lesson happened though us since we do have the ability to pay for it. Great perspective on a not so good situation.
1. Don’t procrastinate on minor home repairs. Taking 10 minutes to fix something may save you $1,000’s in the long-run.
2. Have a least $1,000 in emergency fund. Build this up to 3- 6 months.
3. Make sure you double-check that you have turned off all your faucets!