MML Alex: Using My Emergency Fund for the First Time

Written by
Alex Eaton
MML- Alex

I knew this day would come. Looking back I can see it was too easy up to this point. It could only go downhill from where I was. In the span of a week, I've had my first two unforeseen expenses. The first, a permanent upper retainer from the dentist, so I don't have to get braces again. The second, a broken tire valve.

$200 out the window for the retainer, and my parents generously offered to cover the tire valve cost. Your first reaction is probably along the lines of "Really? It's only $200." But yes, really. $200 is still no small chunk of change for me, especially with how low my expenses are right now. More important than the amount of money I had to spend, this is the first time I've needed my emergency fund. Up until this point I've started with a $1,000 emergency fund to be safe. I'm realizing how quickly that amount of money can go. Now I have to take away money from a different avenue to refill my emergency fund. Right now I'm thinking of trying to cut spending and use money I didn't spend during the month to refill it instead of lowering the amount I am saving for a car.

But the fact remains I need to have a larger emergency fund. $1,000 has been a very large chunk of change in my life up to this point. I've quickly come to realize it doesn't go nearly as far as you think in the real world. Even considering my low expense levels, my current fund didn't even cover three months worth. This is where my struggle with balance is happening. I don't want to take away money from my loan payments and car savings, but it has to come from somewhere. I'm already spending such a small amount otherwise that my limited budget would shrink even more. My first instinct is to say it will be fine, just wait to refill it , you'll be fine. I could very easily wait until after I buy my car to refill it. The risk is smaller because I live at home, but there is still risk there.

To be honest, there are so many little decisions to analyze when it comes to my finances I feel like I'm getting analysis paralysis. I have some perfectionist in me, and it takes over in these situations. I must make the perfect choice and nothing else will suffice. There is a point where I need to stop, consider a few options, and just choose one. It's made worse because I'm in debt. Every dollar spent could've gone towards paying off my loans sooner. I wonder about the day I pay my loans off, I'll have so much extra money each month. The pressure of that obligation being lifted will be crazy, I feel like I won't know what to do with it. But until then my frugal lifestyle will have to continue. It's my own fault for trying to pay off my loans sooner.

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