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Weekly Debt Update #11- Unexpected Expenses and Overreactions


Hey Everybody!

So this past Sunday, as I was getting ready to go to the gym, I was searching for a water bottle in our attic (which is finished) I noticed something I’ve never noticed before- water damage. Ugh! Just on the eve of GF’s and my get-away, I had to find this.

What I noticed was bubbling and stained paint on the ceiling and sure enough, when I touched it the drywall was moist (not soaked, thankfully). Check out what it looks like:

Roof Leak

Now, it looks like the previous owners had some issues with this too as it’s fairly evident its been patched in before, but we were told it was fixed. Like I said- I’ve never noticed it before. The attic isn’t a place I venture too often (maybe once or twice a month) but I know I would have noticed it before had it been there. I’m thinking (and hoping) the reason is from ice damming on the roof from over the winter (which was notoriously bad this year). Hustad Companies says “These ice dams not only pose a threat of significant damage to the roof, decking, interior walls, ceilings and floors, but they are also an indication that there is a problem with the roof. The ice on the roofs only just melted 3 or so weeks ago, so this is my feeling. I’ll start removing the drywall and insulation to make sure there isn’t any mold growth in the meantime. I’m hoping if it’s from ice dams, then I should be able to mitigate future issues (by shoveling the roof) until I’m out of debt and have significant savings to have it all fixed (think 2 more winters). If it’s worse, well, I don’t know. I have $1,200 in my slush fund to see if I can have patching done to the roof to buy me some time. If worse comes to worse, I can stop my debt payoff and build my savings. Thankfully, since my expenses are so low, I can bring my savings up fairly rapidly- about $5,000 in 2 months. Here’s hoping for the best!

I also want to share a problem that I have.

For some reason or another, and it doesn’t happen too often: I overreact. Like badly overreact. I can only count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone overboard in my whole life, but for some reason, this roof leak deal sent me over the edge. Let me walk you through what happened and my thought process of the whole ordeal:

  1. I wake up at 7:30AM as GF is leaving for work. I make coffee, peruse the internet and putz around the house for a little while until I feel like going to the gym, at about 9:30.
  2. I get my gym bag ready but realize I don’t have a water bottle. I can’t find one any where else in the house, so I decide to check the attic.
  3. I open the door to the attic, and look up to notice a water stain on the ceiling. I touch it and feel that it’s damp. I also peel away some of the paint.
  4. So do I analyze the situation in a thoughtful and engineer-like manner? No, of course not.
  5. My mind instantly dives into the worst case scenario- I have to replace the whole roof.
  6. How much is it going to cost is the next thing I think of. My mind settles on $5,000.
  7. How am I going to get this money? Cut every and all expenses in my life, therefore I can have it saved up in roughly 6 weeks. My past couple weeks of easing the debt payoff pace is for naught. I decide I have to cancel anything and everything I’ve (and we’ve) planned, including our B&B stay this weekend.
  8. I next think of how to increase my income- back to the part-time gig deal. I can bring in an extra couple hundred dollars a month.
  9. What if the damage is so significant that the houses structure is permanently damaged beyond repair? Throw in an extra $5,000

OK, so mind you this all takes place within a matter of, at the most, 2 minutes. I spent the next hour pacing the house and cleaning and getting my heart rate up (better than a workout!). GF gets home not long after and I tell her the whole story, including steps 1 thru 9. Her response: you’re overreacting.

Even in the face of confrontation, I was certain I was right: the roof needed replaced, the structure of our house was unstable, and I resented ever buying the place. It took a long discussion, a few examples, and some fresh air to finally bring it home: I overreact, and when it happens, I overreact bad. And now a couple days later, it doesn’t seem so bad. I’ll check it out more in the next couple of days and analyze the situation from there.

When an unexpected expense comes up, how do you react?

Here’s where I stand with my debt payoff:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,119.47$3,717.77
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,924.45$3,272.57
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,498.52$2,851.66
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$3,009.63
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00

Hope everybody has a great week!


  • Reply Angie |

    Your thought process is exactly how I react to things. I can totally relate. If only I could turn my mind off and calm down! I went through something similar last month with my rent check.

    Waited until last minute to resign lease so I had to drop off a paper check.
    Found out DH voided the last check for some dumb reason. Which I regret flipping out on him for.
    Found new checks which were unknowingly from the savings account with $0 in it (WTH are there checks from a savings account?)
    Check bounces, I go crazy and start reading every detail about the lease of all the late fees that are going to start counting from a week prior and through the next business day. Start freaking out that they are going to require certified checks and I have no bank.
    Drop off more regular checks including late fees still swearing at everything.
    In the end they cashed the original check which went through when I transferred money. They also cashed the extra check with the prepaid late fees. Now I’m 2-months ahead in rent and probably lost ~6 months of my life in stress. Luckily my husband puts up with me.

    • Reply Matt |

      I’m glad I’m not the only one here! Like you, I’m lucky my GF puts up with me 🙂

  • Reply Jackie |

    I have to say I don’t really have that problem. I have been through so much in my 40 years of unexpectedness. Surprised with a divorce, went through a robbery and being held at gun point, got evicted from an apartment (ended up being the best thing that happened to me), job loss, hubby needing unexpected surgery. Now I honestly don’t sweat it. Hubby tends to fly off the handle and then I point out things could be much worse. Recently my car that we’ve only had 1.5 months (used) broke down and it’s a hard fix. We thought it wasn’t fixable, but with more research found it is. It’s going to take a while. So very inconvenient but we’ll make due until it can be fixed.

  • Reply Joe |

    Sounds like my freak out after we had water in our basement two weeks after closing on our house during a period of unusually heavy rain.
    The next week was a flurry of researching French drains, exterior barriers on the foundation, trenches, etc. A lot of panic and anger and regret about whether we had bought a lemon.

    I ended up extending our downspouts (total cost <$20) and getting busy at work. Fast forward five years and haven't had any issues since!

    • Reply Matt |

      I hoping this leak won’t be too bad of an issue. We’ve lived here for 4 years and haven’t had many issues. Our house is 100 years old so I know that instead of getting worked up, I should be thankful we got a really nice place to live.

  • Reply Susan |

    Catastrophizing. Good for reviewing any possible negative outcomes of a situation, but quite annoying to them who live with those who do it. : )

  • Reply Sue |

    Oh, that is SO me!!! We are having the guy out tomorrow to service our heater/ac unit before summer starts – simple, right?? I have CONVINCED myself he will find something wrong (even though this unit is only about 5 years old) and it will cost us a fortune and our vacation in May will be off. My husband is like – “why are you freaking out – it’s just a yearly service call” – oh yea. Gotta love us doom & gloomers 🙂

  • Reply Barbara |

    I am exactly like this. I was listening to Dave Ramsey and talks about how when you have no emergency fund everything is a crisis. That when he was poor everytime the car broke it was the car breaking and then the whole MONEY thing. But with an emergency fund it makes you lose the money crisis and instead you just fix the car.

    • Reply Matt |

      Amen. Some day I hope to be at the point where money is no longer any issue. Only 1.5 years left.

  • Reply TPol |

    Although I am many years your senior, I react or rather overreact the same way. It is a habit, I cannot give up. My mind starts racing at 100,000 miles per hour thinking about the worst case scenario and ways of coping with it. We need to calm down a little bit:)

    • Reply Matt |

      Agreed! I’m glad I live with a girlfriend that is just the opposite- cool as a cucumber. I couldn’t tell you how many times she’s told me to relax, lol.

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    Well, I cna’t blame you with this one. I would have freaked out, too. In fact, I have – we also had wicked bad ice dams this winter and my unit got hit with most of the damage. The insurance adjuster came up with a figure around $13K to fix my unit. UGH!!!

    But, that’s the nice thing about insurance – it can cover stuff like this!! Of course, if the cost to fix is less than the deductible no need to make a claim. For me I’m not worried about the financial cost since the insurance will cover it. Now I’m more worried about the hassle and chaos that will ensue in fixing it. But, while the water was coming I was pretty stressed out and anxious.

    • Reply Matt |

      Good point. I didn’t think to look at our home insurance policy for this. Thanks!!!

So, what do you think ?