Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Madd Money: Three Cheers for the EMERGENCY FUND!!!

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a fan of the Ramsey Baby Steps, and the one that I’m the biggest fan of right now is his third Baby Step, where you fully fund an emergency fund with three to six months of expenses (we have taken it to the out edge and have six months of actual income set aside). The whole point for having the Emergency Fund is so that you have a rainy day fund, because, inevitably, it will rain!

It’s important to decide what actually constitutes an emergency. This is one of those grey areas; some people will only look at the life or death situations, and some are more liberal when it comes to defining an emergency. Well, Christina made the call that what happened this past weekend in our van constituted an emergency, and we acted accordingly. What happened was I brought five young men up to Cutter Scout Reservation for the Order of the Arrow Ordeal weekend. My wife’s van was the only vehicle that could seat everyone, but even with the van, everyone and their gear was piled in tightly. When we got to the twisty and winding part of Hwy 236 (the one leading from Castle Rock to Big Basin in the Santa Cruz Mountains), I heard one of the boys say “Excuse me, Mr Larsen, I think I’m... {SPLAT!!!}”.

Yep, one of the boys got carsick and let loose. The resulting smell caused another boy to get nauseous and lose it, but thankfully he lasted until I could pull over and get the van door open and him outside of the van. Needless to say, the rest of the ride up, even with as much of a clean up as we could do, was not pleasant, and while the boys spent the lion's share of the weekend participating in the various activities associated with Ordeal weekend, I spent my time pulling out seats and floor mats and scrubbing down all of the surface areas with hot water and TSP, while also using a tin full of white sage and burning it like incense in the car in the hope of killing the odor (white sage is used for purification in native american traditions... if anything needed to be purified, it was the smell inside of the van!). No such luck. We were able to mask it pretty well and the drive back was tolerable, but we kept the rear windows vented and the sun roof open the whole way home to bring in fresh air.

I had called Christina to warn her, and then held the phone a good foot from my ear to let her vent (this is her beloved van, after all, in which she has to drive kids various places, and carpool with… thus this was not good news to her at all). When I got home, and she got into the car to check it out, she said “I really appreciate you scrubbing down the car as well as you did, I know it wasn’t a lot of fun… but I can still smell it. I’m sorry, but we have to get the car detailed”. Fortunately, a good friend of ours (who is a Police officer in one of the nearby towns) told us of a place that does forensic level car detailing… meaning they often do clean-up of the police cars, which see their share of incidents involving not just vomit, but urine, excrement and blood… and sometime all four at the same time! Hey, if it’s good enough for Police departments, it’s good enough for us! Thus with that recommendation, we contacted them and asked them to do a number on the car, from stem to stern internally. I must admit, the car could have used this anyway, but this particular event pushed it from the "nice to do" category to "absolutely essential" one.

It wasn't cheap, but it was worth every penny. The good thing is, this is exactly why we have an emergency fund. Granted, it’s not really what I wanted to spend the money on, but then, when you have an emergency fund, it’s there for any situation you don’t really want to spend the money on. That’s what emergencies are! The great thing is that we will be able to just pay for it and then use our allotted for savings to refill the emergency fund. That’s one of our mandatory emergency valve rules; when the emergency fund gets tapped for any reason, and it dips below the agreed to threshold, all other savings and investment options are temporarily halted until we’re back to the desired threshold. The good news is, it looks like we will only need one pay period to get back to our agreed to level.

Today, I am singing some serious praises to the Emergency Fund. However, Christina is probably singing even louder than I am (LOL!). For the record, honey, I’m sorry, and I hope this will make up for it. From here on out, it’s a hard rule of two drivers, two cars, a door seat for every passenger… and Dramamine shall be consumed by everyone in the car before departure :). Let’s just say that this is one emergency I want to ensure *never* happens again!

1 comment:

~pollyanna said...

GREAT post. We have certainly seen our share of "scout" emergencies... Too many memories were conjured up with your story. ;)