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The Summer of Financial Setbacks and Silliness

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We knew it was coming.

Something always breaks, falls, crashes, burns, explodes, disintegrates, or magically disappears. It’s a fact of life, and that’s why the cliché, “saving for a rainy day” still holds true. The saying is so old and overused I hate to even mention it, but it can never be overstated.

If you don’t plan for financial setbacks you’re asking for big trouble.

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and all of a sudden you need “something big” replaced in your house, it could cripple your finances for years.

That surprise expense might tip your financial balancing act enough to send your family spiraling down the debtor’s rabbit hole.

You don’t want that. But all said, even when you know saving is crucial, it’s not easy to do.

I mean who wants to save money for emergencies. I would rather do blow off a hooker’s back (wait a minute – eww – I have the T.V. series Vinyl still abusing my brain – wanna take a bath all of a sudden).

Stupid jokes aside, my wife and I would much rather spend our extra money travelling.

But no. We have to save every month for the financial kick in the teeth that’s surely coming our way.

Then there’s the often debated question, “How much of an emergency fund should you have?”

We’ve been keeping around $50K accessible for a few years now (I know, I know….stupid. we should have that money in a GIC at least). I’ve been keeping that $50K out of the market for emotional reasons (I know…wrong again), but I did that because I was broke and bankrupt once in my life. The fear of not having enough money still haunts me 25 years later.

But common sense has been creeping into my psyche lately, and I’ve been getting ready to move $40K into something that would give us a return. I would keep $10k in the savings account for emergencies. That’s reasonable.

And then it happened.

The Pool Liner Fiasco

ripped-pool-liner-emergency-expense1
Pool Maintenance For Dummies – Edition 2.02

This spring when I opened the swimming pool, I had all the water in, and the boiler running. Then it was time to drop in the plastic steps. The center step is separate from structure because it’s filled with sand for weight. It flops on and acts as the second step, while weighing down whole structure. This way the steps don’t keep floating away.

oopsGreat. Done this before. No problem.

Yep. Problem. I dropped it. It fell into the pool and ripped open the liner at the bottom of the shallow end.

“Oops”, as Mr. Perry would say.

“Old liner anyway”, we thought. It was due.

Problem is the coping (white plastic pool edging) has to be changed too because it’s over 30 years old. Furthermore, you have to get the sheet metal and sand underneath repaired and prepared before the new liner can go in.

Then there is the cost of the custom manufactured liner, and the new skimmer. The company we dealt with on the repairs and replacements told us that we should change the skimmer while everything is ripped back and apart.

It was the only common sense play. They weren’t just lining us up.

Well…..okay, maybe they were, but that 30 year old plastic skimmer was in pretty rough shape.

So with help from the friendly pool shop salesman we picked out our liner and coping.

$11,384.34 after tax for liner, coping, and skimmer

pool-liner

Exit Through The Gift Shop

It’s a funny thing in life. We all hate dealing with emergency expenses (did I just call a swimming pool repair an emergency……well yes I did), but I find when it comes time to actually spend the money, it’s more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.

And over the last 17 years my wife has proved to me she feels the same way.

So as we’re walking out of the sales office, on our way out to the parking lot, my wife’s eyes were drawn to the hot tub show room. Specifically the red “Hot Tub Blow Out” signs. Ah yes, the power of visuals in advertising. And why is it that it feels so good to be the wide-eyed rube.

That feeling you have when all the bored-to-the-point-of-assisted-suicide sales staff on the floor are watching you, thinking to themselves, “Heeeeerrrrre we go, another sucker in the barrel.” They stop yawning for a brief moment when they ring you through the till, and their faces seems to glow in the presence of your excitement. When you pull your credit card out for the big buy it feels surreal. Like you’re watching yourself from the other side of the room.

So yes. We bought the hot tub and my wife is very happy. I wasn’t thrilled at first, but I warmed up to the idea. Hot tubs are great for dirty old men, because once in awhile you get a young beauty coming by for a soak. Yeah, yeah, yeah…..ugh.

tenor

But unfortunately, my brother-in-law is our most frequent visitor, with his Speedo, unshaven mug, and garlic breath. Not kidding. It’s brutal. Great guy, but he drinks way too much. Double ugh. Triple ugh.

puke-hot-tub-time-machine-o

 

$8,738.57 after tax for hot tub

hot-tub
Me and grandkids Taylor and Logan

Well We’ve Gone This Far

“Well, we’ve gone this far”, a common phrase used by rubes ready for the slaughter. But since this website is called Debtfiles.com I can get away with it. If the site was called “FrugalFiles.com”, it probably wouldn’t make sense.

So fine. We had to change the liner and coping. We didn’t have to buy a brand new hot tub or a new pool skimmer, but you only live twice.

Fine, as long we stop at that.

Nope. We thought that it would be great to have the rubber paving done over the old concrete. I blame this on my wife 100% because she probably won’t read this – I might be able to get away with this one. She’s had her eye on this product ever since we set foot back in Saskatoon, but I was very skeptical. So as the other cliché saying goes, “happy life, happy wife no money”, I agreed to look into it.

The more I learned about rubber paving the more interested I got. I went and visited some strangers who have it on their driveways, and they swear by it. I was told the driveway application isn’t the best because you will eventually wear off the paint on the recycled rubber, and you’ll start to see black streaks. You can get it painted/coated again years later, so no big deal.

But for a pool deck it’s perfect. It’s doesn’t wear out nearly as fast. There’s a little give when you walk on it. My drunk brother-in-law can even drop a beer bottle on it and it just bounces around (he already tested it so we know).

$13,125.56 after tax for rubber paving

laying-rubber

pool-done

Are We Done Here?

fire-pit

I would hope so, but we may as well finish it off with a gazebo over the hot tub, and a fire table. We’ve come this far. So we did, and that’s that. Better pray we don’t have anything breakdown, and business keeps cooking a long.

$843.77 after tax for fire table & chair set

So let’s do the math here on the most expensive summer in our life.

  • $843.77 – fire table
  • $13,125.56 – rubber paving
  • $8,738.57 – hot tub
  • $11,384.34 – pool liner & skimmer

Total Expense = $34,092.24 coconuts

And of course the inevitable justifications started making their pathetic rounds.

  • increases property value
  • something the family will enjoy for many years
  • don’t have a lake property
  • don’t have any other costly hobbies

Fair enough, but here’s hoping there are no other expenses coming down the pipe at us in the near future.

Complete Furnace and Air Conditioner Breakdown

While were spending money like Oprah in a girl’s school, our air conditioner in the basement was no longer draining to the sewer properly, and water was trickling and dribbling into our furnace. Eventually a few things went badly wrong, and after three different estimates we found out it was time to change out everything. The entire system was over 30 years old, so no big surprise.

As of last week, the new system in installed and that should be the end of it. Ten year parts and labor on everything.

$13,313.98 for Amana HVAC/Furnace

furnace-and-air-conditionerThe Good News

So it sounds like it’s a really expense summer, and it was, but there is some good news here. So good I need another bullet list (don’t you just love bullet lists).

  • the liner and coping was covered by home insurance
  • the day the liner ripped my wife got an email from somebody wanting to buy our motorhome $36,500
  • we had our emergency fund ready for this and we have no debt

So in the end we were very lucky. Now it’s time to SUCK IT UP and go back to being good boy and girl.

FrugalFiles.com was never going to be a domain that worked for us.

2 Comments

  1. Oh my, that’s a bunch of capital expenses hitting the ledger all at once. When capital items in one’s home age up past 10 years, one would think they would go on the watch list. Your pool and HVAC situation are really good examples. If you amortize that cost annually, one could begin to set aside the money well ahead of time. The only downside is that one has enjoyed the savings up to the point that and now one has to spend the money, but it should not be a surprise.

    “Construction Sprawl” is well documented here as well with the paving, hot tub and the Fire table. Timing was good. If these are things you value, awesome and every one gets to enjoy it. Happy wife, Happy life.

    So how old is your dishwasher and house water heater?

    • Hehe – the dishwasher is looking like it’s going to go soon, but the hot water heater was brand new last summer. Thanks for dropping by Franklin. Love your blog!

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