Even though I like to think of myself as an avid saver, I will fully admit that saving up for an emergency fund has been a far larger struggle than I thought it would be.
I saved for a lot of big things in my life: tuition, travel, a down payment, but this emergency fund will be the death of me.
Maybe because I have a loose term of “emergency” or maybe it’s because in my mind, an emergency is not as motivating since it’s not a tangible item. Either way, I’ve had to dip into my emergency fund 3 times in the past few weeks. So similar to my 6 Life Admin Tasks I’ve Been Avoiding post, here’s what has been going on with me and my plan on what I’m doing about it.
To start off: My emergency fund goal is $7,000.
I know it’s definitely not 6 months and not quite 3 months because I’m not factoring in all my savings goals, but its close enough and truly the best I can do right now. I also factor in other things like I work a permanent, full-time government job and even if they downsized my department I would just be moved to another one, and if I got seriously ill, I would qualify for sick leave. There are some other factors that are involved in my decision to not make my emergency fund 6 months such as I can rent my apartment and move back into my parent’s house (which my mom would absolutely love and has been trying to convince me to do since I left). So this amount I’m comfortable with for my incredibly personal situation. This would of course drastically change if I ever decided to leave my job or start my own business.
However every time I seem like I’m so close to this savings goal, I seem to just drop right back down. So here are three things I’ve had to spend my emergency fund on and my plan to get it back up to my goal.
As some of you may know I went back to school part-time this month – which is one of the reasons my last post was few days late and there are two posts this week! While it was planned to an extent (I did obviously did apply), it’s still an expense nonetheless. Back in the Spring, my employer approached me to see if I was interested in going back to school to qualify for promotions down the road. And while I probably should have started saving for this when I applied, I honestly didn’t know if it was something I wanted to go through with because I had to critically think about my career path.
On the one hand, I didn’t want to commit the time and effort into going to school if this was not something I wanted to pursue later on and secondly, I did not want to waste the department’s resources if I was going to leave. But I’m really happy where I am and think this is a great opportunity for me. Plus, two years passes by faster than you think and I’m not obligated to stay for a set amount or pay them back if I do end up leaving (that was a big factor for me). Even though my employer is paying for 100% of it, it’s still a reimbursement semester by semester on the condition I pass. So while I will get this money back it won’t be for a while. And honestly once they reimburse me for the last term, I will have to pay for the next. I know this in an investment because not only will I get all of this money back, it will also be a way for me to make a higher income at the end hopefully. Still it’s a lot of money to not have for a while.
Condo Levy: $692
Earlier this summer, my strata company asked all the owners of my building if we wanted to put in a levy to have the carpet redone and interior building repainted. They had mentioned it at last year’s Annual General Meeting and I was in support of the idea because it is an investment. If I ever wanted to sell or rent my apartment, it would help bring the value of the condo up and I think most of the other owners felt the same. My portion of the levy is about $692, which is not terrible, but not cheap either. We have the option to pay it over the course of 3 months, but I decided to dip into my emergency fund to pay it right away. There are a couple of reasons for this.
- I’d rather pay it all at once than temporarily change my auto-draw for this bill or add in a new bill. I’m forgetful. I will forget and either leave it at a higher amount for too long or forget to pay one of the 3 payments.
- I’m more motivated to pay down debt first. If my life for the next 3 months has to suffer, so be it. I know this is strange but I prefer paying things in full because I feel like it gives me a more accurate picture of what my finances look like. It motivates me more to save up for my emergency fund when I know how low it is. Plus, I don’t like having debt looming over me. I do have the money now and that money it will be eventually used for the same purpose. I’m just hate debt; I don’t feel at ease with it. I’d rather not stress about paying this for the next few months with an additional payment and making sure I don’t forget to pay it. That’s because savings makes me feel good about myself, and debt makes me feel negative about myself.
Home Insurance Increase: $125.24
Now this one is a little less dramatic, but it was an increase nonetheless. I have my home insurance payment calculated as a part of my monthly expenses but I didn’t expect my home insurance to go up this year.
Last year, I bought home insurance for the first time online so I was new to their company and got a web discount, this year, the discount didn’t apply. However, I did call my insurance provider to go through the terms and to make sure I was actually spending the amount I needed to. Yes, it actually does cost this much.
Bonus: Through my home insurance provider, I also get free car towing (even when I’m a passenger because I don’t own a car). So I will say this payment was a little easier to swallow because my parent’s car broke down earlier this month and I was able to get the $200 tow fee waived. It makes it a little bit more worth it.
How I’m Going To Fix It
So now that I’ve gone through all the money I’ve spent; I’m going to outline my basic strategy on how I’m going to restock my emergency fund. This plan is not perfect, but it will hopefully get me through the next few months.
Investments: Approx. $100 – $200
At the beginning of the year, I started actively investing and to say it’s been a roller coaster ride is an understatement. I’ve felt every impact from my stocks and have learned the hard way that investing in stocks when I didn’t 100% know what I was getting into was a huge mistake. From being at a $1600 loss, I’m finally now in the green and am considering redirecting my investments and cashing out of some high risk companies that are no longer the right fit for my portfolio. This isn’t necessarily because of my latest expenses, I’ve actually been thinking about this for a quite a few months long before some of these expenses came up.
I’m currently waiting on some industry and company changes but expect to at least be able to cash out $100 – $200 in some of my investments by the end of the year.
Side Hustle: $300 USD ($400)
Last month I started a new side hustle. I like to think I’ve always been creative about making money from Mystery shopping to find odd jobs here and there. However, I’ve never been able to find a way to make money online. It wasn’t until last month until I stumbled on this post regarding being an online transcriptionist and closed captioner that I truly found a side hustle that works for me. I’ll be doing a more in-depth post about it later on but in the last month I’ve made about $150 USD and am continuing on to make more each month as my skills get better and better.
I’ve considered monetizing my blog and that’s probably the most obvious route, but it’s not the right direction for me at this moment. I like not having to put pressure on my blog and truly find it creative outlet and you’re all my friends and we’re sitting on my couch discussing our lives with a cheese platter and a warm drink in hand. I hope my blog will always have this vibe but it may not stay in the same format forever.
Extra Work + Overtime: $600 (after taxes)
Over the next few months, it will be municipal election time in the province of British Columbia (where I live) and there are also elections happening in the US as well. First off, the most important thing during election season is to register to vote. I spoke about this in my Why I Don’t Chase Retirement post about how I do love working in government because I think it’s so important to be involved in your government. They make a lot of big decisions, spend a lot of money, and create policies that influence the direction of generations. Now that my spiel is over, I’d like to remind everyone that one of the great things about elections, is working during elections.
It’s a great side gig because once you have the experience; they will most likely hire you again in the following elections. And for Canadians, we have three levels of elections, municipal, provincial, and federal. I’ve worked for provincial elections a few years ago and federal elections will take place next year so it’s like this burst of seasonal work that
- Pays well
- Hire a lot of people
- Requires weekend shifts
A few years ago, I started in the lowest pay as an election worker because I was brand new and this year, I’m onto the next step. Every step has higher pay and higher responsibilities and it’s one of those things that you kind of have to already have the experience for, so if you’re looking to have a side gig every couple of years, working for elections is a great option.
Finally, there’s a little bit of opportunity to work overtime in my office in the next few months because we are so busy. It’s not set in stone yet, but there are some projects ahead that I’ve already raised my hand for and know will require extra work.
Transit Savings: $160
Lastly, this is a smaller one but because I’m going back to school, I also get a student transit card so I no longer have to pay for a transit card. Ordinarily, it’s about $95 for the type of pass I have and my work covers 25% of it. However, I do have to pay extra when I move in-between transit zones so it will save me approximately $160 over the next couple of months to have a free, unlimited, student transit card. Yay!
Planned Savings – $1360
So as you can see I’m short about $500. And the point of this post is not to share how I have it all together, as you can clearly see I don’t. And I think that’s a key to growing up, is that you don’t have to have it all together all the time. Things come up, whether planned or not and the most important thing for me is to just have a plan and to keep going.
If you’ve noticed, I’ve also not increased my savings or reduced my budget to account for this dip in my emergency fund. And to be honest, that’s probably how I’m going to have to make up that extra $500. However, when faced with most financial problems, I try not to make the default “I’m just not going to spend money,” because that’s not a very realistic option for me. I’m already very critical of my budget and tend to overthink my expenses (like feel guilty about small purchases when it’s really okay). Are all of my purchases absolute necessities? No. But I also spend out on happiness on things that give me joy. I still have a travel fund, I still have different savings goals, and I still want to do things like enjoy the upcoming holidays and a girl’s trip with my friends that we planned months ago.
I try not to let myself go into extremes like “I’ll just stop spending on anything,” when I’ve been hit with some unexpected expenses. If I didn’t have an emergency fund, then yes, my situation would be more extreme, but this is the reason why I saved up an emergency fund – so I wouldn’t panic and freak out when something unexpected hit me. I’m also careful to give myself a realistic time frame and options on how to save back up for my emergency fund so I won’t panic and quit because I’m too unhappy and stressed by worrying about every dollar I spend.
So this is my adult lesson for the month. Things happen and in this case because I was prepared, so meh it’s not so bad. I’ve actually really enjoyed my side hustle, school, and working for elections. I’ve learned so many new things (especially about investing) that I can use later down the road so maybe it was a good thing all along.
To more unexpected expenses ahead,