19 Comments

  1. We had something similar happen to us this summer (and NC summers can be brutal). Our HVAC system went down completely. We were looking at a few hundred just to get someone to come look at it (much less to fix it), but fortunately Jon can work on a lot of things. He was able to figure out the likely culprit, find the part on Amazon for about $50 and replace it himself.

    He was also able to fix the porch roof on one of our rentals for a few hundred bucks in materials when the property management company found a contractor to fix it for us for $3600, and to salvage a couple of clothes dryers for $30 parts.

    It’s handy to have a handy man.

    • That is wonderful. What incredible savings on the HVAC and the roof. My dad and my husband love to tinker together, but with subzero temperatures…we didn’t want to chance frozen pipes.

  2. Ah, goodness – anchoring. So powerful! I cannot say any home expenses/repairs have hit us yet (still renting!), but it almost seems as if even saving for a down payment – I want to ensure our emergency savings is a full year’s worth as well to prepare for such repairs once we purchase a home. When situations like this do occur, it’s almost more beneficial to shoot high then feel that rush of relief when it’s incredibly lower than anticipated.

  3. Ah, goodness – anchoring. So powerful! I cannot say any home expenses/repairs have hit us yet (still renting!), but it almost seems as if even saving for a down payment – I want to ensure our emergency savings is a full year’s worth as well to prepare for such repairs once we purchase a home. When situations like this do occur, it’s almost more beneficial to shoot high then feel that rush of relief when it’s incredibly lower than anticipated.

    • I can’t even tell you how to begin to save for home emergencies. We have a home emergency fund (ie: furnace situation) and then we have other money set aside for inevitabilities. It turns my stomach to think about having to replace the roof and siding eventually, but I know it’s coming. Save, save, save, and save some more. You’re right on about shooting high!

  4. I LOVE It when things end up beating out the anchors! Like when we thought we could only get back $7000 from our energy audit program and then she said we could get back up to $8500… all in all, we’re getting $7700 and that extra 700 seems like so much more money than the initial $7000 we had already counted on!

  5. It’s such a relief when things come in under your panicked brain’s budget. The latch on our sliding glass door broke. Right as we were celebrating my bonus letting us hit our goal amount.

    I foresaw thousands going into a replacement door and having to post on the blog again saying, “Oh, never mind. We’re not there yet. I’m off to sob in a corner”

    Instead, they were able to replace the latch. It was $110 including the purchase of a new latch, and only because the company we called had a minimum labor requirement. (Later I kicked myself for not having him work on a couple of other small jobs we had, but oh well.)

    Going from $3k to $110 was the kind of relief that’s hard to explain to normal people who don’t immediately go to the worst-case scenario.

  6. Two years ago, we had an unexpected home repair when our not-that-old water heater started leaking all over the place. To make matters worse, I was in the hospital at the time so my wife was dealing with it on her own. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any anchoring, and under the stress of my medical issues and a sopping wet floor on a Sunday morning, my usually frugal wife didn’t do a lot of questioning on the price of a new one. It was way more than it should have cost, so when I got home I called the contractor and gave them heck and they actually did issue us a small refund. I’m glad you had a very different experience, and that your furnace was repairable!

  7. Hey, Penny. Parting with $600 isn’t fun, but it could have been much worse (as you’re well aware). When I first moved down to North Carolina, Mrs. Groovy and I bought a rental property. During one fall service, our HVAC guy discovered a number of hairline cracks in the furnace’s heat exchanger. Replacing that part cost us $1,200. Then a couple of years after that, the whole HVAC system gave up the ghost. Goodbye $3,800. Then a few years after that, the man of the household, the sole breadwinner, got arrested for DWI. And because he had immigration issues, he was sent to an ICE facility in Atlanta, Georgia. Needless to say, Mrs. Groovy weren’t going to kick his wife and his three small children into the street. So goodbye to four months of rent. But because we always had an emergency fund, not one of these hiccups became a crisis. Having an emergency fund is a godsend.

  8. Isn’t it awesome when you can get something fixed *instead of* replaced?? That’s happily happened here more often lately now that hubby has learned the power of YouTube it. 🙂

    I hate it when you have an emergency fund set up and then have to spoil it with emergencies. I’m totally with you, I wouldn’t be happy about touching it! But great that it was there when you needed it.

  9. Anchoring used to be a coping mechanism but now that we’re past the point where small emergencies will empty the fund, I do a weird “Ok, as long as it leaves us $XX,XXX, then I won’t panic” and the X digits all have to be even. It’s not even logical, it’s just what makes me feel better when we still need more data.

    We’re still dealing with that dratted car thing right now :/

  10. I feel you on the $10,000 emergency fund number. I’m not 100% sure how I got to that number myself, other than it was roughly 3 months of expenses when I was living on my own in NYC, but mostly because that number just makes me feel safe too.

  11. The HVAC guy just left my house about 2 hours ago, his second trip to see us this week. We have a system that is so old that most of the HVAC guys say “Whoa!” when they see it. It’s over 20 years old and the parts are now obsolete, so repairs are generic parts and bubble gum, as far as I can tell. Good thing York (the brand name) made this one to last.

    This time cost us $500. And of course I just cancelled our annual home warranty a month ago to save money. We were paying $650/year plus $75/visit for about 1-2 calls per year. My wife freaked at the $500 price tag and gave me the “I told you so” speech.

    We own a house that wasn’t upgraded by the previous owners. We are working on our debt and putting band-aids on repairs until we can do upgrades ourselves, including a new roof, new HVAC (two zones), kitchen, bathrooms, and floors. So much I want to do to this house. It hurts to watch HGTV sometimes, seeing all the nice people getting upgrades to their houses. But it also serves as motivation.

  12. I bet paying just $600 was a huge relief! I’ve gotten to the point where I always assume the worst about home repairs. We had a $1,100+ furnace repair last year, our water heater burst, and we had to replace the furnace and air conditioner in one of our rentals.

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