Owning a home can be a far more expensive prospect than you’d imagine. That’s because on top of your mortgage loan payments and property taxes, you also have to cover the cost of repairs. And boy do I know a thing or two about those.
In recent years, I’ve had to replace not one, but two air conditioning units in my home, my water heater, and my deck. And those are just the larger repairs. I’ve also had components of my sprinkler system break on me, faucets stop working, and more.
After a pretty consistent stretch of costly repairs, my husband and I thought that maybe, just maybe, 2023 would be our year of minimal repairs. But nope. During our routine heating maintenance appointment this fall, our technician found major issues with both of our heating units.
We had the option to make repairs to both rather than replace them. The problem, though, was that since both units were pretty old, in doing repairs, we ran the risk of those systems giving out on us in a year or two anyway.
As such, we decided to move forward with replacing both — at a cost of $12,000. Thankfully, though, we’re not carrying a penny of debt as a result.
We at least had time to shop around
The last time we had a major repair on our hands — having to replace an air conditioner — it happened in the middle of a heatwave, and so we had no choice but to go with the first company that could get us a replacement unit. This time around, we had time to shop around because we discovered these issues with our heating system in early October, before the time had come to pump up the heat. (Side note: If you’re not already routinely having your heating system inspected, set up a recurring annual appointment prior to winter.)
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That helped save us a lot of money, because the company that does our maintenance wanted to charge us over $15,000 to replace both units. Another company came in with a lower price, so we went with it. And while our bill wasn’t cheap at $12,000, it was better than $15,000.
Our emergency fund bailed us out once again
When we had to replace our air conditioners, deck, and water heater, we dipped into our emergency fund to cover those expenses. And this past fall, our savings account once again bailed us out.
Now, you’d think our emergency fund would’ve been whittled down after all of those previous repairs. But one thing my husband and I always make a point to do is replenish our emergency fund after taking a withdrawal.
That doesn’t always happen right away. And this time around, it may take a while to get that $12,000 back into our savings. But it’s something we’re working on now, so we’re ready when the next big home repair inevitably pops up.
The importance of an emergency fund
Recent data from SecureSave found that 63% of Americans do not have the cash reserves to cover a $500 emergency expense. That’s a problem in general. But I’ll say that it’s especially problematic if you’re a homeowner, because repairs like the ones I recently faced can pop up at any time. And if you don’t have savings to tap, you might end up with a heaping pile of debt.
In fact, one thing you should know about my house is that it’s fairly new — it was only constructed about 14 years ago. And in spite of that, I’ve still faced my fair share of repairs. So if those things can happen to me, they can happen to you. Make sure you’re ready by having some cash at your disposal, even if you have to slowly build up your emergency fund over time.
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