November 2019: saved by the “shit happens” fund

SO MUCH happened in November.

Back to hiking

The first weekend, both my partner and I had our parents in town. Which meant our parents were meeting for the first time! All went well—it helps that one of our activities was a distillery tour.

My parents were only up for the day on Saturday and my partner’s left early Sunday, so we went for a lovely fall hike that day (one of the first days I was finally feeling better after my IUD insertion and could stomach the thought of physical activity).

The following weekend we headed out to Shenandoah for what we hoped was a hike with some leaf-peeping. Unfortunately it had rained the last two weekends of October during the peak of the fall foliage, so we largely missed the colors this year. We hiked one of our favorite hikes where we usually have the top of the mountain to ourselves, but it was brutally windy and unpleasant so we unfortunately didn’t stay up there long.

This is me trying not to get blown off the side of the mountain

Boston trip

Mid-month saw a five-day trip up to Boston for one of my cousins’ bar mitzvah. My parents drove up to DC (yes, we’d just seen them), spent the night with me and my roommate partner, and then the four of us drove up the next day. Y’all, I don’t know how it took me so long, but that was my first-ever bar mitzvah (and everything they say about how awesome the party is is totally true!).

This was also the bar mitzvah for my youngest cousin. Who is now thirteen. I’m the oldest grandchild, and you know what my youngest cousin being thirteen means? That I’m old as fuck.

The timing was super convenient—the fact that my mom and all of her siblings (plus a few of us grandchildren) were there that weekend meant it was essentially my family’s Thanksgiving celebration, which freed me up to drive up with my partner to his parents’ for Thanksgiving itself (yes, it was the month of us seeing our parents multiple times).

Black Friday spending

Because Thanksgiving was so late this year, only Black Friday spending showed up in November (yes, this is me foreshadowing December’s spending). And I only bought two things: a pair of earmuffs and… running shoes.

I HATE running. This is all my partner’s fault, since he’s coerced me into running with him a few times. HE IS A BAD PERSON.

Aaaaaaaand the emergency fund

In November I decided to see about replacing my phone’s battery. Yet again. I paid to replace the battery a year ago last November and was pretty damn pissed about the fact that it was draining so quickly already. My plan had been to hang onto my three-year-old SE (I love a phone that I can type on one-handed with my tiny little hobbit hands) until the SE 2 comes out (okay is rumored to come out, not yet confirmed) hopefully first quarter next year. But my battery was not going to make it, and at a certain point having it constantly dying on me was going to be a safety issue when commuting or walking home at night.

I got to the Apple store, was told that it would take a few days to order the battery because they no longer keep parts in stock for phones that old (?), and that I should come back to the store to do the replacement when it came in.

But also maybe they wouldn’t be able to replace my battery because possibly the battery was swelling. I knew the right top corner of the screen was popping up (for unknown reasons but I figured I’d dropped it one too many times), but what I found when I took the case off for the Apple store visit did not look good at all.

This is what it looks like when your battery is swelling

Two days later I was back at the Apple store because my battery had come in. They didn’t even bother to do anything. A tech took one look at my phone, told me that my battery was swelling and that they couldn’t do anything (although they could replace my phone itself for $129 instead of the $50 for the battery. Although they’re no longer servicing the SE starting in January so I’d need a new phone when that one inevitably quit. Why on earth would I make that decision?).

Now that my plan to hold out until the SE 2 is released wasn’t feasible, my new plan was to just keep using my phone and hope it at least held on until maybe Black Friday because hopefully Sprint would have deals on an iPhone 8 (my cheapest—and also smallest, physically—option). Until the Apple tech gave me the required safety talk about how a swelling battery is super dangerous and I should stop using my phone and get a new one now.

That took me aback and yeah a quick Google search was enough to convince me that I should probably just go ahead and buy a damn new phone that day. ESPECIALLY because I was leaving for Boston the next day and was going to be out of town for the better part of a week. Vacation is not the time you want to deal with a potentially explodey phone (and it’s a catch-22 when your battery barely holds a charge so you need to charge it up all the time, but plugging in a swelling battery is dangerous).

While still sitting in the Apple store, I logged into the Sprint website, found a store in VA that had an iPhone 8 in stock, and hopped on the metro over there. Thank goodness I’d been up until 10 the night before typing up a transcription for work and didn’t have to be in until the afternoon because buying a new phone was not the plan for that day.

Almost $500 later and I rushed home (thank goodness my old phone was still functional so I could take a Lyft home since I didn’t have time for the metro) and then to work. What a day ?

Dipping into the e-fund

My new phone was paid for courtesy of my $1,000 “shit happens” emergency fund (okay, I put the charge on my double cash card for the $10 cash back, but immediately sent a payment to my credit card after transfering from my savings account). Yes, it’s called that. Sometimes you’re perfectly (okay mostly, minus the dying battery thing) happy with your old phone and will happily use it for as long as possible, but all of a sudden you learn that it’s a ticking time bomb and you NEED a new phone yesterday.

That’s exactly what the shit happens fund is for.

Let me be clear: I don’t like using this fund. It’s extremely unpleasant to draw down my savings, and yes, I’ve already transferred some of my extra cash back to that savings account so the balance is back up to $1,000. But it’s there for a reason. Like a battery swelling reason. And if I didn’t happen to have a bit of extra cash in November (thank you extra paycheck month!), I’d be working on building the fund back up a little at a time.

I’m slowly getting used to this bigger phone. I do have to say that having this ring on my case (even though I had to superglue it to get it to stick) is a life- (and phone!) saver. (Yes, that’s an affiliate link.) It’s quite possible I’ll get an SE 2 eventually anyway and give this iPhone 8 to my mom to replace her SE when it dies since she cares a lot less about camera quality etc than I do.

(Also the iPhone 8 is old enough that Sprint didn’t have any promos for it over Black Friday/Cyber Monday other than waiving the stupid $30 activation fee, which I got waived in-store anyway. Yay? ?‍♀️)

The numbers

Rent $700.00
Internet and utilities $48.90
Groceries $129.32 Not being around for half the month definitely helps here!
Barre membership $104.94
Car $107.00 Annual registration and parking permit renewal
Gas $18.24
Transportation $9.14 Lyft ride home from the Sprint store because getting a new phone was NOT IN THE PLAN and I needed to go to work
Restaurants/bars $10.93
Vacation $93.58 Meals, drinks, and gas for the Boston trip
Misc household goods $68.07 Assorted spending, including a mat for outside of our door, a door draft stopper for under the door, and a coffee grinder
Personal care $14.08 Face wash. Thank god it’s not pink tax spending (mostly because my IUD is starting to feel normal some/most days)
Charitable giving $25.00
Misc dues/subscriptions $44.04 Patreon dues
Medical -$121.91 The sleep doctor overcharged me for my sleep study by this amount (the health insurance representative when I called to clear up things since this was about the time I hit my deductible: “this is why I tell people not to pay up front until all the billing is settled.” Uh, I kinda had to before they would let me do the sleep study?). This should go back to the separate company that administers my FSA and HRA, but a coworker is in the same situation and has been trying for MONTHS to give them the money back, but they’re making it pretty impossible for her to do so. So I’m not sure that’s gonna happen ?‍♀️ (I’ve spent $60 on copays in the last few weeks using my FSA so it’s not like this money won’t get spent on health stuff anyway)
Clothes $151.11 A sweater, a bunch of socks for hiking and a few pairs with some arch support to them for my second job, and the dreaded pair of running shoes
Other shopping $71.07 I bought a sunrise alarm clock in a desperate attempt to not feel so goddamn exhausted when I wake up in the morning. Have I ever mentioned that I hate winter?
Gifts $146.60 Bar mitzvah gift, plus both my mom’s and my partner’s birthdays, plus some deferred spending that randomly happened in November
ATM fee $3.95 Y’all, I don’t do ATM fees. I’ve paid MAYBE one other in my life. But I was dumb and forgot that I should give my cousin a gift for his bar mitzvah until it was too late and my only option was the ATM in the hotel lobby ?‍♀️
Phone $506.68 New phone, new case, new tempered glass screen protectors, and a ring to hold the damn thing because I CAN’T TYPE ON IT ONE-HANDED OTHERWISE
Total spending: $2130.74
Paychecks and other income $2224.27 Extra paycheck months are the greatest
Retirement contributions $2378.35
Side hustle income $601.29 It was also an extra paycheck month for my second job
Cash back $66.65 Redeemed some cash back
Total income: $5270.56
Total: $3139.82
Savings rate: 60%

Oh yeah, and did I mention that I hit a huge goal in November as well? It was a good month.

December won’t be anywhere near as exciting, which is fine with me. I’m ready to slow down for a bit here at the end of the year.

4 Replies to “November 2019: saved by the “shit happens” fund”

  1. I don’t know who you bank with, but several now refund ATM fees charged by other banks. I use Schwab, which also refunds ATM fees in other countries, although I haven’t been to one in years to test it out.

  2. Glad you were able to pay for a new phone when needed and also avoided the bad potential outcome from that battery, friend. I really had no idea they could be dangerous but I think you made the wise, adult decision there.

    I, too, hate using our emergency fund. But when we really need to, I’m glad it’s there.

    1. It sucked at the time but I’m glad I made that decision too (and that I sucked it up and spent the emergency fund money)!

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