Expect the Expected

About an hour before our card-playin’ New Year’s Eve company arrived, I noticed it felt a bit chilly in the house.  65°.  Cold air blowing out the vents.  Not good.

We could have gone the route of wailing and gnashing of teeth as our indoor temperature dropped overnight on a holiday weekend.  (No worries – our friends loaned us a couple of space heaters, which did keep it at 58°.) We could have lamented the rotten start to a new year.  We could have panicked and wondered where on earth the money would come from.

But we didn’t.  We didn’t have to.

We expect the expected.

We knew when we bought a 1916 home that repairs would be needed.

We predicted when our eldest daughter lost her first tooth, braces were in our future.

We’re fully aware that Christmas comes on December 25 each year.

We anticipate our vehicles konking out… eventually.

Being intentional with our money turns emergencies into inconveniences.

It’s not enough to pull in the reins and spend “only” what we make.  Being intentional with our finances means spending less than we make and stashing the rest for the inevitable. It means sacrificing cable, lattes, and home fashions now in order to stay warm and be mobile when things go wrong.

It’s not always fun being so disciplined with our income.  Saying no (or not now) to things we want and opportunities that come our way does bring satisfaction, though, when we’re able to pay cash for inconveniences.

Murphy will come a-knockin’.  Are you ready for him?

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  1. Love this! Most of our friends spend, spend, spend on going out to eat, new cars, etc and then wonder why they can’t afford to replace a tire when they get a flat.

    And they think that we are crazy for not having cable! LOL!

  2. So true! Growing up in an immigrant family, I learned early that I should always save part of my income. By not spending more than I earned over the past 20+ years, I’ve been able to save up enough money that being laid off last summer has not caused our family any financial difficulties (other than not being used to dipping into our savings) and will even allow me to go back to school this spring for my Masters in a different field.

    • Now THAT is a money saving success story! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      • Hey Amy,

        Not having cable can sometimes be a bummer. We bought the little boxthing to watch local channels but we don’t get all of them, It was helpful to be able to watch the news with all the tornado’s on new years eve.

        We also have an x box subscription and netflx which we stream on our xbox – not uber frugal- costs us in total about 200 a year but WAY cheaper then cable. Plus our xbox acts as our DVD player.
        I love netflix because I can watch all the old shows I liked growing up and some of the spiritual movies that I like. If you like the new stuff it eventually comes out on netflix:)

  3. I so agree! Homemade coffee taste so much better to me then a latte from a starbucks because I know it is costing us less and we are able to put what we save away for those times we need something fixed. 🙂 Alot of people think we are nuts to for not having cable too! 🙂

    • There are days we wish we had cable (football games, olympics…) but when we’re tempted, we add it up. And IT ADDS UP! 😉

  4. I think Dave Ramsey has a story about his own life that goes something like this: when he was broke, the water heater went out and it was a major catastrophe. A few years later, after he’d straightened out his finances, the water heater in a different home quit. This time, it was “barely a bump in the road.” 🙂

    This is a wise blog post. Since we’ve become intentional about our finances, we have actually moved to the other extreme. We seem to have emergency funds for our emergency funds, if you will. 🙂 Perhaps time to relax just a bit.

  5. “Being intentional with our money turns emergencies into inconveniences.”

    I LOVE that!!! Needed to hear that today. One of my goals for this year is to spend more purposefully- know where my money is going and save more.

    Great post to start 2011- thanks Amy!!!

  6. Since we paid our two car loans off over the summer, my husband and I have continued to make the payments to ourselves (separate from regualr savings). This way, we never have to have a car loan again. It was freeing to us!

  7. We do pretty good with our finanace but I have to admit…our furnace going out during the holiday would rattle our cages:-(

  8. It’s funny, a few weeks ago we were driving around town and some guy kept dancing around in the car next to us at a red light. At first we ignored him, because he was acting very strangely. My husband finally said, “I think he’s trying to tell us something?”. Rolled down the window and apparently our tire was totally slashed up. We had no idea!

    We pulled over and all the old feelings rushed in. “oh no, what are we going to do?” “how are we going to afford this?”

    When all of a sudden a sense of calm rushed over me. We had the money in our bank account for this emergency. You are right, it went from an emergency to a simple inconvenience in life because we had prepared for it.

    It doesn’t mean that when things go wrong that it is any less frustrating, but it’s not scary anymore!

    • “It doesn’t mean that when things go wrong that it is any less frustrating, but it’s not scary anymore!” So, so true!

  9. Great post! We DO have satelitte tv but no lattes, new cars or expensive vacations for us. A good hockey game on tv is a vacation enough for me ;-).

  10. I don’t even drink Starbucks coffee outside of home. I buy all my Starbucks items and make them at home and they last so much longer, but the best part is that they taste better and the way I like it.

    I love being frugal. I buy things on clearance now, but every now and then I will treat myself, say to an iPad or Kindle. I’m all for being super frugal, but there has to be boundaries and moderation as well. We’re called by Christ to enjoy life and the fullness of it, whether it means to take a vacation every 3 years or treat yourself to something once in awhile. I can’t imagine living a life trying to be so frugal, living in fear of what ifs but can never enjoy anything that Christ has given us.
    We’ve saved tremendously last year and will do more this year, so it’s okay to treat our self since we are saving and tithing and doing offerings as well.

  11. Good post!
    Our heat went out last week too. We had the option to (a) fix the immediate problem on a 10-year-old system for $800, (b) replace the indoor half of the AC/heat system for $3,200, or (c) replace the entire system with a more efficient one for an up-front cost of $6,200 that would only be $3,200 after all rebates have been submitted and received.
    I was happy that a habit of saving rather than spending meant we could go with the best long-term decision and not just patch the problem and wait for the next part to break.

  12. Great post – this is so true! We were just discussing this over the weekend.

    We have been replacing a few broken appliances lately, and this past summer I was in a car accident that totaled my car and left me with (thankfully just a few!) unexpected expenses. While we will eventually get a settlement to reimburse the accident costs, it has been freeing to have the money set aside to handle these expenses and not have to worry about it.

  13. Antoinette Martin says:

    LOL….we should form a club…our heater had been doing “funny” things for about a month and Sunday morning at 4:31am our toddler came to get me and I realized it was freezing cold in the house….not something you expect when the furnace was replaced 2 years ago ;-). Thank heavens for a phone number on the installed furnace and a repair guy who came early at 9:00am vs. the predicted “sometime after 2:00pm”.

    And amen on the “emergency savings” plan. That furnace deal plus totalling our SUV four days earlier (some roads really should be iced….all 9+ of us slideoffs on that 1/4 mile stretch of freeway think so anyway) are just “bumps” because we have been saving/planning.

    We could be doing more (being smarter with our money) but at least we are doing something. And starting with “something” gives us courage to do more.

    Thank heavens for God’s tender mercies and the chances He gives us to grow and realize who we are and who He needs us to become!

    • And to think this all started with the catastrophic crash on the stock market! I frequently reflect, where would my finances be today, if we had NOT had the crash? …..

      • Actually, for me… this all started with how I was raised. 😉 I’ve never known differently and hope my children can one day say the same.

    • Oh no! TWO years ago?! Ours is O.L.D. so we definitely expect these things to happen.

      I think we could *all* be “doing more” but the occasional treat is nice, too. 🙂

  14. Wow. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I want to make some improvements with my finances this year and this post helped me to get motivated.

  15. Well said! Fantastic post – thanks!

  16. What a great example you are! It’s so awesome when you can rest in the fact that you can meet each new challenge gracefully and peacefully…because you have been diligent in the small things.

  17. This is weird! Our furnace went out too and we’ve been trying to decide what to do about it because we might sell our house soon, but we are fortunate to have some emergency money in our bank account to get a temporary solution for this issue. I’ve been thinking today how blessed we are that we had this money set aside for it. Great post!

  18. Hmm excellent points! I really hope to do better with saving and being intentional about spending money in 2011. This is a great reminder, so thanks!

  19. Such an important lesson for people to learn. Not to hoard but to save intentionally and be prepared for the inevitable things that come up in life. Glad your friends were able to help keep you warm!

  20. Great Post! Glad to see others saving for those bumps in the road too. It was a tremendous help for us both getting on a budget. When my husband got laid off a few years ago we didn’t have to stress about all the bills we just focused on him getting a new position. We saved for several years so we could start our own business. We pay cash for used cars and don’t have cable. You can be creative while saving money and still a lot of have fun!

    One thing that helped us was to write out specific goals. Once we hit a goal we would reward ourselves which helps motivate us even more to meet the next goal. We still have a lot to learn and have had multiple inconveniences recently, however, we are both on the same page and love being able to save as well as help those around us.


  1. […] SAVING! So that “Emergencies” become mere inconveniences. (courtesy of Amy’s Finer […]

  2. […] It is the same with the emergency fund. It is not an investment where your goal is to make a certain rate of return. Rather, it is a “insurance policy” to protect you from a significant loss or set back. When you have an emergency fund, what could be a disaster becomes a mere inconvenience. […]

  3. […] I’m grateful that we have an emergency fund so we can cover these types of unexpected expenses and I’m grateful that we live on a strict budget and try to plan for the unexpected. This makes situations like flat tires, rear blower motors and transmissions going out a lot less stressful. As Amy said, “Being intentional with our money turns emergencies into inconveniences.” […]

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