|Squint carefully...that's a small blue car just to the left of Tigh Alasdair...!|
...it happens to us all, you're trotting along nicely, minding your own business, and then all of a sudden something comes along and socks you one square in the wallet! In this case it was my car - which has for a while been making a slightly odd squeaking noise from the front end. I thought at first it was wheel-bearings, but the noise didn't seem to be following the right pattern for that. The garage had checked it out and found nothing to worry about, and it didn't seem to be getting any worse - just a squeak at slow speeds - people knew when we were coming along the road, but nothing worse than that....then, on the way to Ipswich for speedway earlier in the month, it suddenly got a LOT worse - the squeaking became rather more piercing, and was actually rather uncomfortable on the ears. Hmmmm. Then, on the way home, it stopped. not altogether, but more or less back to where it had been - for some bizarre reason this worried me more than the louder noise had done! The following week was the first time I noticed the sort of metallic rattling/grinding noise. Again, not all the time, and it seemed to be worse on braking, and on turning left....it was definitely present though, and not being a fan of driving cars which are making untoward "metal on metal" noises, I decided that it needed to go back to the garage.
|Gracie the Clio & MrEH waiting patiently for a ferry...|
As you know we budget carefully for all things to do with our cars in any case, putting aside an amount every month to cover insurance, tax, MOT and servicing. Thankfully we also budget a bit over the odds - meaning that the cost of this repair is already covered. The service on the Clio will be put off until after we have been on holiday - although technically due on time, it's a few thousand miles off needing done on mileage yet - and that will give the car account the chance to replenish a little. All this makes me glad all over again that we work like this - that sort of bill could be a huge shock and a complete budget-breaker to a family without any contingency savings of this type - this is exactly why the experts in such things recommend you have an "emergency fund". We can all budget for the planned spends - insurances, car servicing and car tax are all annual expenses, we know when they will be arriving, and have only ourselves to blame if those expenses cannot be met when they are due. Christmas, and holidays again - we have time to plan and surely only foolishness would lead to not budgeting for these. Our holiday will be our next "big spend" but once we have returned, and paid (from the designated savings) the credit card bill for the diesel etc, there will be NO debt remaining for this whatsoever - we don't borrow money from anywhere to allow for our annual fortnight away, if the money wasn't there, then we simply wouldn't go, or would go somewhere different, or for less time...hearing of folk taking out three-year bank loans to pay for the "holiday of a lifetime" terrifies me - far more sensible surely to delay the holiday until you have set aside enough cash to pay for it? Personally I wouldn't want to take out credit for a car-purchase again, either. Yes there are some excellent 0% finance deals available, but these usually require buying brand-new (which is rarely cost effective thanks to the depreciation as soon as you drive the car off the forecourt) and usually come with some pretty nasty clauses and conditions attached...also we are working hard to become completely debt free - with our mortgage being the only debt we still have to get rid of - and 0% or not, these arrangements ARE debts - we none of us know what is round the corner and I'd just as soon not have monthly repayments hanging over my head in the current economic climate.
How do you cope with the unexpected bills that rear their head from time to time? do you budget to pay insurances etc annually, or pay in monthly instalments to make them more affordable for you?