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In my opinion, one of the most awesome things about personal finance blogging is that you often get to hear and share real life personal stories of people putting in to action various financial techniques they have learned either through school or personal education.
Today, I wanted to share with you all one such story. This one involves emergency fund financial planning.
The Doggy Health Emergency Story and Costs
Over the past week, one of our two greyhounds (Charlie) experienced a string of episodes where he would throw up significant amounts of white foam and saliva over and over (up to 20 times in one night), often pushing him past the point of dehydration. In total, he lost about 7 pounds of water weight.
The first night a throwing up episode occurred, we were quite worried, but he did eventually stop around 3 AM. The next day, we took him in to the vet to get checked up. By the time they had totaled up the office visit fee, the subcutaneous fluids, Cerenia anti-nausea and famitodine stomach acid reduction injectable medications, and the ‘easy-on-the-stomach’ diet food he needed to eat for the next few days, the total cost for the visit was $250. In this visit, they treated the symptoms but still didn’t know what was going on.
For several days after the initial episode, Charlie seemed pretty healthy. However, he had not yet totally recovered the weight from the initial throwing up incident. We took him to see an internal medicine specialist to get an ultrasound with hopes of that shedding some more light on things. For this office visit and ultrasound, the total was $472.
On the 3rd night after the initial incident, he began to throw up again, this time without stopping. Since we were pretty concerned that his body had not yet recovered from the first episode, we took him in to the emergency vet to receive a similar treatment as before. The total for this visit was $221.
Next, in an effort to be able to treat Charlie at home if an throwing-up episode occurs again, we obtained some subcutaneous Cerenia (anti-nausea) medicine and fluids to keep at home. The total cost for this was $151.15.
Summing these values up, it equates to ~$1,100 over the course of one week.
Doggy Emergency Fund to the Rescue!
Undoubtedly, $1,100 in pure cash expense is a lot to pay for in a span of less than one pay period. In fact, with the personal finance landscape in the US being what it is, it’s likely that most people would simply have to pay for this expense (since most dogs don’t have insurance!) with their credit card and then get charged a minimum 10% interest rate on it until they paid it off.
Of course, this is a situation that I want to avoid at all costs. When we made the decision to adopt a second dog in June, in addition to our personal emergency funds of 6-9 months worth of living expenses, I stipulated that my girlfriend and I both needed to have a $1,000 cash emergency fund account set up to pay for large unexpected vet bills that tend to pop up frequently with greyhounds (this number was found by looking at her past vet bills and seeing the patterns that emerged).
To save for this periodically, I decided that I would give myself 10 months to build up the doggy emergency fund of $1,000. To make the savings fool-proof, I set up a monthly, recurring, automatic $100 transfer from my checking to savings account to be made directly after receiving each paycheck.
Since my girlfriend and I had already been saving up this doggy emergency fund money for several months when the week’s worth of vet bills hit, all we had to do to cover the credit card balances was to simply transfer money from our doggy savings account to our checking accounts. Boom! Done! No credit card debt incurred! In the coming months, we’ll continue contributing to our emergency funds and replace this money that was used.
To me, this whole experience really highlighted two key things:
- First, it was a great example of how effective of a tool an emergency fund is in one’s personal finances.
- By having an emergency fund (either in general or for your pets, or both), you are really able to maintain more precise navigation of where your ‘financial ship’ is headed and are not blown off course by large amounts of unexpected debt.
- Second, it highlights the importance of taking a critical look at your finances and spending patterns to determine what you need to allocate/save money for.
- In our case, we looked at past vet bills and determined that we would need to have a good amount of money on hand for health issues that come up.
- For other people, maybe their family car is old and beat up, and they have to spend a lot of money to keep it running. By reviewing their spending patterns, this would be identified, and then it would be important to either 1) change the car or 2) allocate money towards this priority.
How about you all? Do you have an emergency fund in place? Have you ever had to tap in to it?
Share your experiences by commenting below!