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Well Crap…Extra Expenses


Isn’t this just Murphy’s Law? Anything that can go wrong will go wrong? Especially when a HUGE goal is just on the horizon, mere weeks away!

So I guess this is just life but I’ve got to report to you all with some disappointing news today. News that may impact our January 2016 target date for becoming consumer debt-free. Sigh.

We’re going to have some big unanticipated expenses this month.

First (and the smaller of the unexpected expenses)….I broke part of our dishwasher, and almost caught our house on fire in the process. I really can’t explain it well because I don’t know what all the parts are called, but I tried to take apart some of the inside pieces in the dishwasher to clean them. When I put it back together, apparently I didn’t do it correctly. The next time I washed a load of dishes, the part came apart and landed on the heating mechanism, which caused the dishwasher part to melt (and smell like an electrical fire!!!) Luckily, I caught it in time before major damage had occurred and the dishwasher isn’t totally ruined. However, to replace the broken part it cost $100!! What the heck!? Seems like price-gouging to me, but it’s a necessary replacement.

Dishwasher fix = $100

The second (and larger) expense really, really bums me out to have to talk about. Basically, hubs was in a car accident. It wasn’t terrible, and no people were hurt. He was driving home and stopped at a red light with cars in front of and behind him. The car behind him plowed into him and pushed his truck into the car in front of him. From hubs’ perspective, the entire wreck was the fault of the person behind him. But the police officer who responded to the scene cited the driver behind hubs for causing the incident (not sure what the official citation was) and cited hubs for being too close to the car in front of him. So, ultimately, the person behind hubs is responsible for the damages to our vehicle and we are responsible for the damages to the vehicle in front of hubs.

Deductible = $1,000. We had $250 in our car repair account. This leaves $750 to be paid out of pocket.

Vehicle fix = $750

Can you say OUCH?

And now I’m left doubting myself. We’ve had this super thin emergency fund. It’s continuing to be stripped so we now have no buffer in our car repair fund, only a couple hundred in our annual expenses fund (should be revolving closer to $500ish), $400 in our dental/health/vision fund (should be revolving closer to $1,000ish), and that’s basically it. Still some small balances in other various accounts (pet expenses, birthdays, and travel/Christmas – though the Christmas fund will be depleted this month), but very little buffer between us and disaster. That was all well and fine when I was hoping to be consumer debt-free this month and start re-building our savings in January but that’s no longer going to happen.

In fact, with these huge expenses (particularly the vehicle one), we may not be able to hit our debt free goal in January either. And now we’re talking about pushing back these dates far enough that I start to be nervous about not having a good EF security net.

Also, I’ve been working on some projections for 2016 and am a little disappointed in myself. Even if we hit the consumer debt-free mark in January, it would take us probably an additional 2-3 months to re-stock our savings to a level where we feel comfortable. So we’re talking about being nearly a third of the way through the year before we’re really able to start wailing on some debt again.  I wish we had big Christmas bonuses or something that could really jump-start the savings and get us back into debt-reduction mode faster, but neither of us has a job like that.

Soooo, yeah. I’m a bit torn. Continue on our current path, pay these new debts, and try to become consumer debt-free as soon as possible (January or February at the latest, knock on wood), or sloooooow down just a step so we can get some Emergency Funds back into our bank account so that we are better equipped to deal with any unforeseen disasters.

Also, as an aside, pretty sure our insurance is going to go up. Boo!

But all this being said, I like to count our blessings. We have done a kick-butt job this year with paying down debt and we are proud of our hard work! We’re in a great position for 2016 to be our year! Becoming consumer debt-free, building up some savings, buying a house (!!!) and starting to tackle the student loan mountain. It should be a great year!


  • Reply Laura |

    Don’t you rent? Shouldn’t the landlord pay for the dishwasher?
    Glad no one was hurt I the accident at least.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks! We never even told our landlord since it was a user-error problem. If the dishwasher had broken on its own we would have called him to fix/replace it. But we have a really good relationship with our landlord and want to keep it that way so we kind of treat the place like our own. If we break something, we fix it ourselves.

  • Reply T'Pol |

    So sorry about the accident. I was in a similar accident several years ago in the USA. I was living in NY state though. So, I do not know your state laws.

    I challenged the police citation, had to make an appearance at the court and won. The police officer at the courthouse who replaced the the prosecutor for traffic crimes told me that “following too closely” can be only written if the police officer actually observed you doing it. So, he asked the case be dismissed in my favor. If you can try challenging the citation. This way, your insurance may not be hurt.

  • Reply Ashley |

    Uggg, I am so, SO sorry! That royally sucks. I’ve been hoping for a miracle for you. Sometimes it gets hardest right before a breakthrough. I think this New Year will bring some great things for you. I vote that you stay focused on the consumer debt free and then build back up your savings. I got annoying debt news yesterday too- I had a baby in February and had saved up thousands of dollars to pay for the medical bills. When my baby was 6 months old and I had paid off the “last” of the bills, I put the rest of the cash towards my husband’s student loans. Well, yesterday I got a bill for almost $1000 from the hospital!!! I guess it takes 10 months to process them?! I was so disappointed since I am $998 from being debt free. The silver lining is that I have a HSA that will be full on January 1st and will pay for it then. Plus, I called the hospital and they will take 10% off if I pay it all at once (I wish I would have known that for the other bills). Anyway, I hate that I will be using most of my HSA pretty much on the first day of the year, but there is still the possibility I can be debt free by the beginning of the year!! Good luck. I am glad your husband isn’t hurt! Happy holidays!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow! Seems like some grand universe joke that the amount of the bill is almost exactly the amount left until you’re debt free! For what its worth, my sister and I both had similar experiences (with random bills still arriving nearly a full year after childbirth). Don’t know what’s wrong with hospitals, but that seems to be the norm. : (
      At any rate, very exciting that you’re so close to being debt free! Just a matter of weeks!!!! EEEEK!!! I’m excited for you!

  • Reply SCM |


    As another poster suggested, I would challenge the charge of “following too closely”. If your husband was at a stop in his car, waiting at a red light, it does not even make sense that he was following too closely. He was stopped! Sitting still! Think about it … when cars are lined up at a red light, they are all stopped, lined up one after the other. How can the officer charge your husband for following too closely when he was not “following”. He was just sitting there.

    This could have a huge impact on your insurance premiums. You should definitely challenge this. If you don’t know how to do it, your insurance agent might be able to point you in the right direction.


    • Reply Jean |

      I think the technical/legal term is ‘assured clear distance’ – that could apply to a vehicle that’s moving or stopped. Had he left more room (not sure what the acceptable distance is) between his vehicle & the vehicle in front of him, he might not have been pushed into the car to the extent that he was.

      That being said, while it’s a fairly common citation in this type of situation, it won’t hurt to try to challenge it. Unless they have proof of exactly how close he was to the car in front of him, they might not be able to make the citation stick. BUT, even if the citation doesn’t stick, will you still be liable for the damage to the car in front of your husband? That could turn into a long drawn out legal battle. You might have to go ahead & pay it, and leave it up to your insurance to try to collect from the guy that plowed into your husband and caused the accident. Just something to think about…

      • Reply Marzey doats |

        I think that assured clear distance only applies when your car is moving, not when stopped at a red light. There is no law in Mass. that states how far back your car needs to be at a stop. Is there on in Arizona? Its definitely worth challenging the citation.

        Also, if the police officer did not witness the accident, but was only called to the scene, his report is NOT conclusive for assigning fault for insurance purposes. It is considered hearsay, because all he did was listen to what people told him happened. Call your insurance company, and insist to them that your husband was not at fault, and was in fact completely stopped at the light.

        Good luck

        • Reply Angie |

          Unless its a no fault state, its pretty standard assignment of fault. The person at the back of the line is only responsible for hitting the car directly in front of them. Not the entire line of cars since his car did not “hit” more than one. At least for insurance purposes.

          Its completely dumb I agree but that’s how it has always been explained to me. I used to live in DC where it was pretty standard for someone in the household to get rear-ended almost annually. DH was in one of these accidents but luckily was the one at the front of the line so he was not at fault.

          • Marzey doats |

            DC is different than Arizona in recognizing what they call “contributory negligence” i.e. Hitting the car in front you in line. Most other staes are comparative fault, meaning since you were the one most at fault in causing it, you are at fault for the whole thing. Definitely worth contacting both in the insurance company and contesting the citation

          • Marzey doats |

            What really matter in this case is the chain of events. If car 1 stopped short at the light, and your husband hit him, and then was plowed into by the car 3, you husband is at fault for rear ending car 1, and car 3 is at fault for your car. If your husband was stopped, and car 3 hit him, causing him to hit car 1, then car 3 is at fault. If its scenario 1, you have to bit the bullet and pay. Otherwise you need to contest it. Who knows, the driver of car 3 could have lied to the officer about what happened resulting in the citation.

  • Reply Carina |

    I’m a huge fan of having an emergency savings built up just because 2015 has been the year of disasters for us..we had a wreck also.. and had we not had savings to fall back on to fix these expensive issues then I would not know what to do. Think of it like insurance on your peace of mind.

    We continue to pay down debt while building this fund at the same time because while paying down debt feels great, it feels even better knowing you’ve got yourself covered should an expensive incident occur..and they always will it’s just a matter of when..that’s just life.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Amen! Sorry that 2015 was the year of disaster for you guys! Hoping 2016 goes a bit more smoothly!

  • Reply Kili |

    Personally, I’d definitly restock your EF first before focussing on the aggressive debt pay off. I can totally understand why you’re so eager to reach that “consumer debt” milestone, but as this month has shown, there are so many things that can happen each and every day, from my perspective it would make sense to be prepared.

    • Reply Jen From Boston |

      Me, too! Think about it – your deadline to eliminate consumer debt is 100% YOUR choice. Yes, it’s disappointing to miss that deadline, but the only person I can see who’s upset about it is you. You don’t have a bank sending you nasty notes, you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder. Life just threw you a huge curveball so it’s ok for you to adjust.

      If I were in your shoes I’d actually consider paying the minimum on the consumer debt in order to pay off the new expenses and build the EF.

      I’m glad your husband wasn’t hurt in the accident. It really, really stinks, though!

      • Reply Ashley |

        I totally agree! It really stinks! We’re definitely prioritizing the new expenses first (above extra debt payments), then the decision is between savings vs. debt. We’ve been paying only minimum debt payments and paying extra at the end of the month so we still have a couple weeks to see how hubs’ income goes this month, other expenses that pop up, etc. before we have to make any definitive decisions.

  • Reply Brownie |

    I vote to restock the EF before you pay off the car loan. My hubs was just in a similar accident but he was the lead car. The middle car paid for his damages (900+) and the end car was being a pain about the whole thing. I know it’s tempting to get the car loan paid ASAP but you will have two wins fairly quickly in 2016 (the balance transfer loan and also the car loan). I just think being prepared for Murphy may help keep him away!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Good point! Isn’t it so true that when we are prepared, Murphy is less likely to show up!

  • Reply Lauren |

    I second that the insurance company for the car that hit your husbands should pay. I used to handle auto claims (in WA not AZ) and the last car was always liable. Your husband wouldn’t have hit the car in front of him if the other car hadn’t hit him. Plus the police can investigate but the insurance companies are the ones that determine liability and who pays. It is worth talking to your insurance company again, if you haven’t already, to verify who has to pay for your front end damage. Unless AZ has weird insurance laws you shouldn’t have to pay. Good luck.

  • Reply Brooke |

    Man, I want to pay off my debt so bad that I would just push through. I would keep a bare minimum 1K emergency fund and then do everything else I could to finish strong in January. I feel like I lose focus when I deviate from my goal, which slows down my progress in general, whether it be savings or debt payoff.

  • Reply Joe |

    This really all comes down to psychology. Several posts ago, you outlined your rationale for keeping a very small emergency fund which included several other “safety nets” that could help you get out of any jams that you ran into. You now have had some unexpected expenses so you should just evaluate how well things worked out and how comfortable you would feel if something even more urgent came up.
    For myself, I always err on the side of having the “warm fuzzy feeling” of multiple layers of safety nets that starts with a very large emergency fund. But that’s why I say it is a matter of psychology, everyone has a different set point for these things.

So, what do you think ?