So you probably know by now that I track all my monthly expenses on Wally, and this is mainly all the variable spending such as food and drink (e.g. breakfasts, lunches, coffees), shopping (e.g.clothing, make-up, anything), transport costs (e.g.fuel, servicing, roadtax, car wash), and other personal expenditures (my monthly massage, my Easi top-up, renewing my passport).
Most of the spending that I do is predictable and frequently expected on a monthly basis – I eat out a lot, I drink a lot of coffee, I get and look forward to at least one full body massage a month, my car needs fuel every 2-3 weeks… These things are regular, predictable expenses that I can expect and plan to incur every month, or on an annual or bi-annual basis like my car insurance, road tax, and personal insurance.
Other expenses are more irregular, somewhat predictable, but are usually unplanned. For example, when I buy a plane ticket and go on holiday, shop for clothing online, or ask a friend/sister to get me some make-up when they’re abroad – these aren’t exactly routine, expected expenses (unless you definitely consciously plan to shop/travel every month and have that allocated in your budget the way my monthly massages are) even if you can sort of predict them. For instance, I know that I’ll have a big travel holiday at least once a year, and realistically I’ll probably shop a little bit every few months – but I can’t really tell you exactly when and exactly how much this will cost me, because right now they’re unplanned. You may not be able to pin down the frequency, timing, and cost of these expenses as well as you can your car’s fuel consumption, but this type of spending still requires a conscious decision; you’re not forced to, you don’t have to, but you eventually, sometimes choose to. On the need-want spectrum, these expenses tend to fall closer towards the “want” end, and in the grand scheme of things are usually not necessary expenses.
The third type of expenses are the extremely irregular, unexpected, and completely unpredictable ones – the Emergencies. The one stand-out difference between Emergency expenses and the other two is that you can’t budget for Emergencies. You can’t go and say “Okay, for this month I’ll only budget $50 for Emergencies. If there’s an Emergency, I have to limit myself and sep duit and only spend $50.” You can have a food and drink budget, a travel budget, a shopping budget, even a fuel budget if you wanted to really test yourself, but the very nature of Emergencies means that more often that not, you don’t have the luxury of a conscious choice; these tend to be closer to the “need” side of the spectrum and you may have to pay for the sudden expenditure. Opting not to, or not having enough money to pay for an Emergency could either be extremely inconvenient and uncomfortable (best case scenario) or extremely jeopardizing and tragic (worst case scenario).
For example, are you going to handwash all your knickers and trousers if your washing machine goes kaput? I suppose you could, but that’d be a lot of wasted time and sweat that could probably be better used for something more productive, had you invested in a new washing machine. What about if a friend or family member requires medical treatment abroad, and you need to hop on the next flight out – that’s going to cost a lot more than a “$50 Emergencies Budget for April 2016”.
Anywho! Myn’s Bank of Emergencies has had a couple withdrawals this year already, and if you’re curious as to what they are:
1. Chipped in for my momma’s flight ticket – $150
Not a true “emergency”, thankfully. One of my siblings decided to take my momma along on a family holiday, and asked if the rest of us kids would be okay chipping in to pay for the flight – which we were all perfectly happy and willing to do. But I’m still putting this expense in under Emergency just based on the fact that this was an unplanned expense on my part, and there wasn’t really a “no” option, if you know what I mean. Not that I didn’t want to chip in, of course – I was more than happy to! It’s like when a kid asks you for some of your prawn crackers, you can’t really say no. Unless you’re like me and enjoy the cheap entertainment of seeing how close you can get them to tears before you bah bah jgntah nangis nah and graciously hand them a single cracker.
(Note: If you read my Q1 expenses round-up, you’ll notice I mentioned our family domestic helper (maid) went home for a month and I gave her a small bonus. That expense doesn’t fall under Emergencies in my book because while it was unplanned, it wasn’t requested or necessary – I consciously chose to spend on it. So that would fall under “unplanned” spending and not emergencies. But yes, they’re both included in my Wally under the Miscellaneous gift box icon.)
2. EL NIÑO BROKE MY AIRCON GAD DAMMIT!1! – $560
I thankfully have a comfortable amount of savings and Emergencies muney and, in all honesty, coughing up the cash to pay for a replacement was the least of my pains. What was truly painful was roasting around in the sauna that used to be my bedroom, lying spread eagle underneath my ceiling fan like spatchcock turkey on a grill trying to get some sleep at night.
I don’t actually use my aircon very much; my bedroom is on the North side of the house and doesn’t receive any direct light throughout the day so it usually stays very cool (useful home design tip for when you’re planning a home or picking a room). So I actually only rely on the ceiling fan most of the time, and at night I might turn the aircon on for maybe half an hour before bedtime but switch it off before I sleep and let the fan do the rest. I’ll know it’s a really hot day if the ceiling fan isn’t enough. And obviously it’s been really hot days for about two weeks now.
Conveniently enough, this is when Mr Air Con decides he’s ready to say goodbye to the world and die on me.
Anyway, I thought this was a case of abis gas but the Aircon People who came to check it out told me its compressor died and I needed to either pay $250 for a new compressor, or get a new aircon entirely. To be fair, my aircon is really, really, really old and it’s amazing it’s survived this long. And because it is so old, I decided against replacing the compressor and got a brand new aircon instead. This entire process took about a week and I’ve probably lost two kilos of water weight since then, so I guess there’s a silver lining to everything.
So to date, I’ve had to pull $760 worth of expenses out of my Emergency cushion. But no sweat, AHAK so punny – nothing stretching out my credit card, no pending interest payment, no kapih lah ni makan indomie sampai ujung bulan; My food budget is safe and I bought a coffee today almost guilt-free.. So life is good. And comfortable. Again.
What happens once you’ve withdrawn out of your Bank of Emergencies like I’ve had to?
If your cushion is already feeling a little flat, work on topping that shiz up! If you don’t have a cushion yet, start building it.. Little bit by little bit. Hopefully you won’t need to stick your hands into it anytime soon.
May your cushion be large and your emergencies small.