Setting goals is important in our lives, right? They give us something to strive for. We set them to motivate ourselves to achieve a place that we think will be better in our lives. But, what happens when disaster strikes and you find yourself facing an emergency situation? How do you not impulse on that new shiny thing that just came out and you think you need?
Disaster: The Roof Starts Leaking and Needs Replacement
Just this past Monday, we went to the Shedd Aquarium for one of the final free days of this year. I took my two girls and my mom since she had the day off. We had a blast for a couple of hours as we went through and looked at all the galleries of the different fish and even got to touch lake sturgeon that they had out at a 4-D exhibit. Here’s a quick video I put together using Google Photos. The music is Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic”:
After getting home, our family went about our evening, and when it was time to hop into bed, I noticed that the bed was all wet. Ugh, right before bed is NOT the time to be finding out that you have a household problem. I looked up and noticed water dripping from our ceiling fan. It had been raining all day. I changed the sheets and put some towels down to dry the bed up. However, now trying to fall asleep, I started envisioning all kinds of things being wrong with our roof.
I was thinking about the expense as to how much it might be to replace the roof if we will need a new bed, the process of finding someone to get out and look at it asap. All these things were running through my mind as I tried to settle down to sleep. As you probably figured, I didn’t sleep well.
The next day, I contacted a local roofing company and asked them to come out and take a look for me.
He ended up coming out on Thursday afternoon and told me that I had a lot of wind damage where I was missing some shingles and that up to 50% of my roof was going to be needing to be replaced. He did say that insurance companies typically took care of this stuff though and that I should contact them about this.
I called my agent and explained what was going on, and he told me that I should file a claim and get things moving. The roofer said that he couldn’t patch up the roof until I got the go ahead from the insurance company, though. So, we ended up going another night with a leaky roof. Friday morning the adjuster called and said that he couldn’t come out until the following Thursday which meant we would have to go without our roof being fixed for yet another week. Luckily, I was able to have the roofer come back out and patch the roof on Friday.
This could have gotten much worse if we didn’t address it. With winter weather creeping in, we’re lucky that it’s still warm and we haven’t seen our first snowfall yet here in the Midwest.
So, how does this affect our goal?
Well, we had just finished funding our 6-month emergency fund after the purchase of a vehicle back in December 2015, and now we are looking at spending again to fix our roof. The good news is that we have an “extra” paycheck this month because of how the paydays fall and will be able to significantly decrease the cost we will have to fix the roof because our homeowner’s insurance deductible is only $1,000. We will be able to end up cash flowing this expense with the extra paycheck, being able to still meet our goal of having the emergency fund completely funded.
So, how can you stay focused on your goals during emergencies?
Plan for unexpected events with an emergency fund
Creating and keeping an emergency fund liquid is an excellent way to safeguard your finances and investments. An emergency fund is money that you’ve set aside in an individual account that is easily accessible, yet not available too easy.
We keep ours in a money market account with an online bank account that pays about 0.08% interest. It doesn’t pay much, but our aim for this money isn’t to make money, it’s to transfer risk. The only way to get the money in or out of the account is by electronic transfer from my main account to it. This means no check writing privileges and no ATM or debit cards associated with the account.
If you want to learn the basics on emergency funds, I created a post explaining all about it. Other than my roof ordeal, I had an amazing guest post from Liz over at Chief Mom Officer where she talked about how her emergency fund helped them get through a real rough patch when her husband ended up getting sepsis and was actually in a coma. She had to act fast as he was a stay at home dad and took care of their kids. If it wasn’t for having funds liquid and available, the story might not have had such a good outcome.
Look at the big picture
Stepping back and seeing your situation from a bigger vantage point can make a big difference when you are going through a disaster or when you are about to impulse on a purchase. We tend to get tunnel vision in both examples and stop seeing clearly because we are getting emotional about the situation. Being on both sides of the deal, I can tell you that this is easier said than done.
I got emotional about the roof when I found out it was leaking…
It was easy to get frustrated because I was being inconvenienced when I just wanted to go to bed. I changed the sheets, put some towels on the bed where it was wet and tried to fall asleep. It made me angry and worried because of the unknown about the situation. As I tossed and turned, I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to contact a roofer for an estimate. We have an emergency fund, so how to pay for it didn’t come into play (such a relief!).
The next morning, I remembered some roofers that I saw from previous issues and submitted a request for an estimate to them. By stepping back from this situation, in this case, sleeping overnight, I was able to clear my head and start thinking clearly to get through the situation.
I almost went in and spent over $900 on an iPad because “I wanted it and deserved it.”
Another time that I didn’t look at the big picture was when I almost impulsed on an iPad. I took my wife to the store and priced everything out in front of her ready to purchase. Luckily, she was smarter than me and talked me down.
Looking back on the situation, I was hyping the device up, thinking it would make me successful. In reality, we can actually get by on much less. My wife helped calm me down and think it over. By the time I thought it through, I had talked myself out of it again.
Get multiple opinions on how to get through it
Since starting the process of fixing my roof, I’ve been asking quite a few people what I should do. I called my insurance agent to ask him before filing a claim. Talking it over with my family solidified that I had done the right thing. Talking with the roofer, he was able to give me the status of my roof as well.
When going through a disaster or about to impulse, seek third party approval on things to validate the decision. Don’t be so quick to pull the trigger that you don’t look at things from the big picture. Asking around to others that have gone through the situation allows feedback that helps out in the long run. Remember, you want to make progress, but you want to stay focused on your goals as much as possible first.
Revisit your why
When the going gets tough, and you are contemplating tough decisions, remembering your “why” is crucial to staying on track. It can be easy to go overboard during a disaster and overspend or when you make an impulsive decision. You can end up going way over and not thinking things through. You have to revisit why you’ve started making better decisions and how your outlook will affect your plan.
What have you gone through that forced you to rethink your plan? Did you blow it in hindsight or did you buckle down and make a good decision? I would love to hear your stories below. If they are big enough to warrant a post of their own, you could always submit them here.