Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Dipped into the emergency fund

Those of you who read my blog often know that I’m on the Dave Ramsey path to financial freedom. I’ve been working on step two for two months now, and doing pretty well, with over $1,000 extra going to pay off debt so far.

But Friday night Murphy raised his ugly head (the Murphy from Murphy’s Law, if you didn’t know).

My wife got a flat tire. We didn’t know it at the time, but earlier she’d hit a curb with her van and blew a hole in the sidewall of the tire. No one was hurt and everyone got home safely. Since the hole (and bulge surrounding it) were in the sidewall, there wasn’t much that could be done: sidewalls can’t be repaired.

We went to a local Goodyear dealer (they’re Goodyear tires, maybe there’s a warranty we could use). No warranty, and they wanted $360 for a new pair of tires.

We decided to shop around.

We found a deal on 80,000 mile touring-grade tires from the local Walley World for just over $100 each.

But where to get the money? I actually heard myself saying “we’ll just have to dip in to the line of credit” as if I were a 3rd party listening in.

Then my Dave Ramsey Judo kicked in. This wasn’t an expense that could have been planned for. The tire failed prematurely, before its expected end-of-life. I mean, if it had simply worn down, that should be a planned for expense, one that you have an envelope for. If you have 60,000 tires, you know that in 5 years you’ll need to buy new tires, so you can plan for it. But a blow-out is unexpected.

So I talked with my wife and we decided to dip in to our emergency fund rather than going in to debt.

Next pay period rather than snowballing debt we’ll fill our emergency fund back up again, but we’ll have done so without going into more debt… without digging our debt-hole deeper.

Here’s the really funny part

We opted for a $1,300 emergency fund, and we decided to hold it all in cash. Specifically, we decided to hold it in two dollar bills.

Yes folks, the good ole $2. I pulled out a couple stacks of two-dollar bills from the emergency fund, double-checked with my wife that this was in-fact an emergency, and we went to pay for the tires.

Why the $2 bill? Funny you should ask. The guy behind the counter asked that, too.

The man behind the counter asked me for $258 and change. I started counting out twos… Soon I had five piles of twos, with $10 in each pile. The man’s eyes widened in disbelief. Another file piles of of twos with $10 in each pile.

“There’s one-hundred,” I said and scooted the piles over, out of the way. I repeated the same process. “There’s another hundred, making two.” And I started counting out the final $60. “And sixty more, for a total of $260.”

“In twos?!” he asked, flabbergasted.

“Yes, in twos.”

“Why twos?” he asked.

I explained that we were paying for the tires out of our emergency fund because “Twos are special, they look neat, they’re uncommon, and they’re hard to part with on an emotional level. Also, twos take a long time to count out to pay for big-ticket items.” That explanation satisfied him.

But I had another reason for having my emergency fund in twos, we don’t have twos in any of our budgetary envelopes, so if a two pops up somewhere we immediately think “emergency fund,” which helps us from cross-contaminating our spending money with our emergency fund.

It works.

As a funny aside, my wife was in the Walley World to buy a gallon of milk. Since her van was right outside the tire department she came out through that checkout register. “Can I pay for this here? I’m parked right outside.”

“Sure. That’ll be $1.84 including tax.”

“Too bad I don’t have a two dollar bill,” she commented.

“Holy cow! The craziest thing just happened! This guy came in, bought two tires, and paid for both of them ALL IN TWOS!! Look!!” He popped open his drawer and showed my wife the stack of twos.

“Wow. That sounds like something my husband would do,” she said as she picked up her bag and walked out the door smiling to herself.


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