A Money-Saving Journey: Surprise Expenses (Part 6)

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Every journey looks different. However, there is a general trend in many couponers’ adventures. Come along as we take a closer look at Angie Erickson’s story.

As I shared last week, you can save a large amount of money by using a meal plan. You can create your own simple meal plan system, or as many of you in the Pocket Your Dollars community shared, there are several other options out there as well.

Whatever your meal plan looks like, the goal is to have a system that helps you be organized for your week of meals, which is how you will eliminate painful, expensive, last-minute trips to the grocery store.

This week I will discuss something that is very relevant in my life right now: how do you cope in the midst of surprise expenses?

A few weeks ago, I discussed how to evaluate your spending and establish a budget, a plan for how the money coming in will go out. I talked about how it is important to also set aside money for “surprise expenses” like Christmas, car repairs, vacations, medical expenses, etc.

Now, if you have been diligent with those things and you have additional surprise expenses, then what? Well, here I am. I am on a road in the middle of Alberta, Canada amidst the fields, heading toward my husband’s aunt and uncle’s home in Edmonton, Alberta. If you would have asked me one year ago if I would be sitting in this rental car in this situation right now, I am positive I would have said no.

However, this summer and fall have been surprising for us. I had a plan. It did not include a trip to Canada for my husband’s grandmother’s 90th birthday, more-than-normal dental work (ugh!), or even a wedding that the my whole family would be in. My plan included bulking up our savings and paying off a student loan by the end of the year. But life has a way of throwing you curveballs!

I have been so busy wrapping my mind around the fact that my plans were not succeeding that I couldn’t see the other side. I had to get myself and my plans out of the way to realize that life is also a journey to enjoy.

This trip to Canada is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. It is not only our first trip to Canada (for the kids and myself), but also our first flight together as a family, a first meeting of many of my husband’s extended family, a first trip to beautiful Banff, Alberta, and overall just what our family needed right now.

My sister’s wedding was also something I had not anticipated happening this fall. However, it was a wonderful celebration and it was an honor to be a part of it. Then there was the dental work. Well, that wasn’t so wonderful, but on the flip side, it could have been worse. All of this totaled up to a far different picture from what my well-laid out plan had looked like.

Now, how did we cope? Well, I took on some extra hours for Pocket Your Dollars, took on some extra babysitting hours and saved on areas that I could in order to cover as much as possible. However, I still had an issue with using some of our savings. After talking to multiple people close to me, I realized an obvious fact: that is why we have a savings account!

This was a “light-bulb” experience for me. People I talked to encouraged me to take the money out of our savings on a “loan” and make a plan for repayment. It was such a blessing that we were able to pay for all of these things without taking out any loans.

Looking back over the last few days here in Canada, we have made wonderful memories and taken beautiful pictures. We are more relaxed than we have been in months, which is priceless.  Now I look forward to the rest of this Canadian adventure.  This week my “Money-Saving Journey” has become a message of “Allow Yourself to Enjoy the Journey!”

Join A Money-Saving Journey next time as Angie shares tips on “Saving on Natural and Organic Food!”

Angie is a Pocket Your Dollars team member who teaches Pocket Your Dollars grocery-saving classes to mom’s groups, Community Ed programs and other civic organizations in Carrie’s stead. Angie also compiles the bi-weekly Co+Op Deals shopping lists and helps update the shopping lists with additions and changes noted by readers. When she’s not doing those things, she is a stay-at-home mom to two little ones. If you are interested in having Carrie or Angie speak to your group, please contact us.

Your turn: How have you coped with larger surprise expenses?

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