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Bad Things Come in Threes


My late Grandmother used to be very superstitious. I remember as a child when something bad would happen she would warn us to be careful because “bad things come in threes!” Maybe Grandma was right because we’ve been hit with our fair share of bad luck with house-related repairs recently.

Three Recent (Unplanned) Home Repairs:

The first was an unexpected roof repair.

We’ve had some bad storms this summer and after one particularly rough one with high winds (there were downed trees all over our neighborhood to give an example of just how strong the winds were), we noticed some of the tiles from our roof had flown off! Luckily there wasn’t any major damage beneath (no leaks or anything), but we knew this was a repair that was needed ASAP! It was just last month and it cost $500 to replace a few tiles and do some additional repairs that were needed.

Next, we needed an emergency plumber.

The handle in our kids’ shower has been “sticking” for a while. The girls have complained about how difficult it is to turn the water on and off. I’ve just ignored it and done nothing about it (ooof!). Until……one night one of the girls was showering and all of a sudden the handle broke off and water started shooting out against the shower wall! There’s no shut-off just to the shower, so we had to turn the water off on the street and have an emergency plumber come out to fix the problem. Another $500 repair.

Last, an unexpected termite treatment.

The area where we live has heavy termite activity. So much so that newly built homes are proactively treated and come with a 5-year warranty. Our home just hit the 6-year mark. It’s out of warranty, but I wasn’t too concerned. We’ve had termite inspections annually and never had a problem. But this year when the inspector came out, he found evidence of termites in 5 different places! Due to the evidence of termites in multiple places, it was recommended that we re-treat the entire house (not just spot-treating the spots with tubes). Comprehensive treatment costs $1300.

All three of these things have happened within the past month. Nearly $2500 worth of unexpected home repairs! It makes me very grateful that we have a healthy emergency fund so this isn’t a bigger disaster than it might have been otherwise. This is yet another reason why I’ve decided to have our emergency fund be larger than Dave Ramsey’s recommended $1,000 “starter EF.” Sometimes emergencies come up in 3’s and cost two-and-a-half times that amount!

I’m knocking on wood that this is the last of it for a bit.

How much do you have in your Emergency Fund? What was the last major unexpected home repair you had to pay for?

Being Adaptable Instead of Gazelle-Intense


Being flexible

My partner and I set aside money every month for the home and car repairs that inevitably pop up. But I don’t necessarily enjoy dipping into those savings. I try to do everything I can to avoid it and find alternatives when things break. For example, our dryer died a few months ago. We decided to use our wooden drying rack instead of spending several hundred dollars to replace it.

So far it’s been a minor inconvenience. Bigger, bulkier items like our comforter can take two or three days to fully dry, which I admit is a little annoying. And our towels come out kind of crunchy and scratchy, so I don’t love using them to dry off after a shower. But we put up with it to save money and simplify our lives.

I hate having lots of appliances and machines to maintain and repair. Plus, I’ve realized we don’t really need all the modern conveniences that are viewed as essential, such as dryers, dishwashers, and robot vacuums. All they do is make chores slightly easier to accomplish, but it doesn’t take that much more time to wash dishes by hand or hang clothes on the line.

Guests Changed Our Plans

With that being said, my parents are in between apartments and asked if they could come stay with us for a month. They have higher standards of cleanliness than my partner and I, so I had a feeling they wouldn’t be able to live without a dryer. When I told them ours was broken, they sheepishly admitted that they needed access to one.

Laundromats don’t feel clean to them, and there aren’t really any around here even if they felt comfortable using one. They felt really bad about inconveniencing us, and my dad even offered to pay for a new dryer… but I couldn’t let him do that. So we dipped into our home repair savings to replace our dryer, which cost us about $600 including delivery and installation.

Learning to Be Adaptable

This situation was a real learning moment for me. I could’ve stuck to my miserly debt payoff mindset, but I wanted my parents to feel at home while they’re here. I could blame them for having high standards or call them unreasonable and stick to my guns. But sometimes you have to loosen up a bit and meet people where they are. If you’re too gazelle-intense, you risk alienating the people you care about.

At the end of the day, going out to dinner with friends or attending a family member’s wedding is not going to set you back too far. Even though my partner and I splurge on things like this new dryer, visiting family, and the occasional concert, we’ve still managed to pay off $50,000 of mortgage debt in under three years. We’re not rich—we don’t make a whole lot more than the median household income. We just try our best to live frugally on a day-to-day basis, so occasional expenses like this don’t throw us off course too much.

Being adaptable and rolling with the punches hasn’t messed up our debt payoff plans. But what do you think—is it better to be gazelle-intense or a bit more flexible?

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