Life has a funny way of kicking you when you’re down sometimes. As you’ll know from my previous posts, my husband and I recently bought a house, and it’s been expensive. We knew that going in, but several more emergencies have popped up since we bought the home and began some light remodeling.
On that list? Our air conditioner recently broke down… in 115 degree heat, in the middle of summer, in Phoenix, AZ. Do you know how hot it gets here? People literally die on the streets here in the summer. Our cats got sick and, while I drove them to the vet, they got sick again… all over my car… and not from the mouth.
Do you know how bad cat urine smells? Do you know how bad it smells in 115 degree heat? So new conditioner + vet emergency + interior detailing bill (because cat urine… all over a car I need for work…)
Saying it’s been a “rough two weeks” would be an understatement, but the worst part of it all is it’s killed our emergency savings. Our emergency savings after buying a house, dealing with unexpected expenses, and then serious emergencies that couldn’t wait, is pretty much decimated.
So what are you supposed to do when your emergency savings is destroyed because of multiple emergency expenses? There are a few ways to handle multiple emergencies without going into debt. Share your thoughts (and good wishes!) in the comments 🙂
Rely On Your Emergency Fund
You do have an emergency fund, right? Hopefully you’ve saved at least 3 months worth of expenses, if not 6 months to a year. When you’re hit with multiple emergencies, it’s time to completely drain that emergency fund. After all, your emergency fund is designed to pay for the entire emergency, so it’s okay (if unpleasant) to spend it all.
Our biggest mistake was drawing down our emergency fund to pay for some of the unexpected house expenses. We brought our emergency savings down to only $2,000 after those unexpected house expenses and, in hindsight, those expenses were “wants”, not needs. While building your emergency fund, don’t look at it as a place to store your money and use when something seems urgent. If it’s not a serious emergency (health related especially!), really think hard about whether or not you want to raid your emergency fund.
See if There’s Anything You Can Sell at Home
Need to build up your emergency fund quickly? Start looking around your house! If you need emergency funds, it’s time to get creative and think about what’s in your house that you’re not using. Is there something you’ve been wanting to get rid of but put off? Visit OfferUp, go on Craigslist, or even create a Facebook post offering things you want to sell off quickly.
Try to Pick Up a Quick Side Hustle
Do you have a skill or free time you can monetize? If you’re looking to pay for multiple emergency expenses or rebuild your emergency fund, try to pick up a side hustle that can make you some quick money. A few ideas for getting started quickly and get paid relatively quickly include:
- Driving for Uber or Lyft (and using Daily Pay, if it’s offered, to cash out daily)
- Sell skills on Fiverr
- Do tasks for people around your city on TaskRabbit
Seek Out Long Term Plans
No one expects to have multiple emergencies, and no one expects to need more than a year’s worth of emergency savings. After all, emergencies don’t happen regularly (or they shouldn’t, unless you’re exceptionally unlucky). And keeping large sums of money in the bank just for an emergency isn’t the best way to use your money. So what’s the best way to handle multiple emergency expenses? Long-term planning.
If you find yourself hit by an emergency and can’t cover it all with your emergency savings, it’s time to think about how to build up a sustainable emergency fund. Do you need to pursue a raise, or do you just need to adjust your definition of an emergency fund? Maybe you thought a 3 month savings is sufficient, but one emergency sets you back 6 months.
Again, no one is expecting to be hit by multiple emergencies at once, but it may be wise to double the size of your emergency fund just in case.
Reduce Expenses Long Term to Build Up a Reserve
Overall, it might be wise to reduce any unnecessary expenses to build up your emergency savings. When my husband and I were dealing with our multiple emergency expenses, we sat down with our finances and realized we had some subscriptions we could cancel and save roughly $60 a month. $60 a month of savings, deposited directly into our emergency fund doesn’t seem like a huge amount, but it will add up and one day be a great buffer for us again.
Using a personal finance tracker like Personal Capital will help you figure out where your money is going every month and help you determine what can be cut out and funneled to your emergency fund in the case of multiple emergency expenses.
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Have you ever dealt with multiple emergency expenses, and how did you handle the expenses without going into debt?
I find that I use credit cards on a monthly basis to buy normal things and I have a hand full which are all useful in terms of miles, rewards, etc. It also provides a lot flexibility in paying for things.. An emergency can happen to day and I pay for it with the card that just closed a billing cycle… and I’ll have about 39-43 days before I ACTUALLY have to pay for it.. That’s generally speaking 3 paychecks from now.
While I have $10K in an emergency fund.. I try to just float everything and pay for unexpected expenses with new income.. This way I don’t need to replenish the E fund.. If timing doesn’t work out I pull money from the E Fund and plan to replace it back at around $500 per month until it is back to my $10K target.