Big fat expenses that kill your budget

Yesterday, I went in for an oil change and came out having spent $260 on repairs and new fluids.

There are a lot of things I’d rather spend $260 on than transmission fluid.

It was a bummer.

But when I was swiping my card to pay for it, I realized that’s all it was – a bummer. It didn’t mean I couldn’t do the other things I’d been planning to this month. It didn’t mean I had to put off my grocery shopping until I get paid again, or that I had to put it on a credit card so I could pay for it next month. It just knocked my savings rate down by about ten percent for the month. It was just a moment of annoyance, and then $260 out of my checking account, and then moving on with my life.

I realized that something that, for a lot of people, would have meant they needed to adjust their finances for at least the next month, was just a minor inconvenience.

That’s not because I earn a giant sum of money. I just spend a lot less than I earn, so I can “float” most unexpected expenses (just pay for them out of the current paycheck and save that much less). For larger expenses – if the car repair had been $500 or more – I’d transfer the money from savings and later replenish that as quickly as I could.

Paying for car repairs sucks. Paying for them on credit is even worse. Have an emergency fund.

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