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Friday, June 26, 2009

The Angst of Actually Using the Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is a wondrous thing. Mr. FS and I have had a fairly hefty one for a long time. When we were in graduate school, we kept $1000.00 in a bank account--just in case. At that time, that represented 6 months rent! Then, when we finally were gainfully employed (sort of), we only had temp jobs for a while. In a panic, we put away enough to live on in graduate student poverty, JUST IN CASE we ever faced unemployment again. "We'll take a year off to write," we said. Thankfully, we never had to use it.

I am sitting here with a familiar ache in my gums that signals an eventual--and expensive--root canal. Evidently, the Baby Boomers, of which I am one, take out their stress in their mouths, by grinding teeth (NOT ME), thereby enriching their dentists and endontists. I did clench my jaw, however, through years of stress at work, to the same effect. I stopped that bad habit last year, after some expensive dental work and hoped that my root canals were at an end. Evidently not. So I suppose I will take some antibiotics to put off the inevitable for a bit, but I have learned to accept the eventual expense.

I guess that's why it's called an emergency fund: it's for emergencies. Emergencies are unpleasant, as a rule. This past year, in addition to my dental work, I experienced the even greater emergency of 3 expensive one-way plane tickets, first to see my father on life support after a blood vessel burst in his brain, then to Massachusetts where he was buried, and finally home.

It is so depressing to spend massive amounts on such awful stuff. I keep hoping that my emergency will consist of an unexpected $100.00 plane fare to Europe. So far that hasn't happened.

I try so hard to be Zen about all this. Thank heavens, I say to myself, that I didn't have to borrow the plane fare from my mother. Thanks heavens, I don't need to get a set of dentures. Thank heavens for my emergency fund.


Duchesse said...

I so hope you can use your fund with equanimity; rainy days do come. As you say, what if it wasn't there? Savings are for use, otherwise, one is merely hoarding, which is a not very soul-sustaining quality.

Funny about Money said...

Whoa! How were you able to stop clenching??? I can force myself to quit it in waking moments, but am not conscious of bruxing when I'm asleep.

Did you find a way to make yourself stop it, awake or asleep? If so, would you share the secret?

Another of the several expenses before the Day of Exit: repair one crown, get another new crown. The dental insurance covers about 50% of the cost, but it's still hundreds of dollars.

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

I sometimes feel that way about my emergency fund. It is bizarre that something meant to make life less stressful does the opposite.

sallymandy said...

My husband has to wear one of those bite guard things at night to stanch his grinding. He's been doing it since he was a child.

I find it's best just to write the checks and look the other way in situations like this. And remind myself that some day I'll forget about the expense. Mostly, I hope you take care of the pain from that tooth!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Not equanamity. I am aiming for "resignation." No problem using it for something fun that comes up!

@Funny--My dentist said "Teeth should never touch except when you're eating." That became my mantra. You can get a pricy rubber thing made. If my willpower hadn't worked, I would have tried an over the counter version.

@Cubicle--But it's good stress!

@Sallymandy--Soemtimes, I make my husband (who never handles money at all) write the checks and NOT SHOW ME or tell me.

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