9

Emergency Funds

Common wisdom says that a family should have a few months of pay in emergency savings, just in case. My husband and I used to say that we military families had fewer “just in case” scenarios than civilian families. We have more job security than the average person, so it’s highly unlikely my husband could suddenly lose his job. We also have Tricare, so it’s unlikely we’d rack up sudden medical debt. We did indeed have a savings account, but I remember a conversation where we were struggling to come up with an emergency where we’d need access to lots of money.

Well, I came up with one!

Over Veterans’ weekend we took a vacation. On the drive home, we ended up in a car accident. The other driver was ticketed, so that was a relief for us, but it didn’t help us any that we were 300 miles from home with an undriveable car.

Our car stayed at a local dealership and we rented a car to get home. We then kept the rental car so the baby and I wouldn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to make an hour round-trip to drop my husband off at work. It was a good thing we did, since the baby ended up getting very sick last week and almost had to be taken to the emergency room.

We finally got our car back yesterday. You’ll note that it’s been a month since Veterans’ weekend.

Anyway, the other woman was ticketed, so one would assume that her insurance would cover costs. Well, the rub is that it has been a month and neither insurance company has been able to contact this woman yet! She never called in the accident. This has held up payment considerably.

And therefore the $1500 in car rentals we accrued over the past month has all been on our credit card. We expect to get reimbursed eventually, but for now the money has come out of our pocket. We almost had to pay the $7000 for damages to our car until USAA stepped in and said they’d pay it for us and collect from the other insurance agency.

This is not something we ever foresaw. It was the first car accident we’d ever been in, and we assumed that since the other driver was at fault, her insurance would pay for everything. We learned a lot this past month, not the least of which is that the process moves very slowly on a good day, and molasses-slowly when the other person is a deadbeat.

Thank goodness for our emergency funds. We were able to make sure that I had a vehicle for the past month without dipping into money that covers normal monthly expenses. I’m glad my husband and I didn’t listen to that little voice telling us that a military family is immune from financial emergency! In hindsight it seems so naive…

What are some unforeseen financial emergencies that have befallen you? Clue me in to all the other predicaments that I forgot to account for…

About Sarah

Sarah has been married to her soldier for a bit more than 10 years. In the past decade, they've been at six different duty stations in four different branches of the Army. They've also endured three deployments, six miscarriages, and a failed IVF. Sarah's blogging focus has shifted some in the past five years, from common military issues to something more personal: the difficult intersection between the military and infertility. It's hard for some couples to start a family; it's even harder when one person spends a lot of time on the other side of the globe. But Sarah was lucky enough to declare Mission Accomplished when their daughter was born 10 days after her husband's return from Afghanistan. And she tries to remind herself how irreplaceable and cherished that daughter is now that she's entered the terrible two's. In her free time, Sarah is a pioneer housewife: knitting, crocheting, and cooking ... and sometimes even firing a weapon.