Spend more than a few minutes in the personal finance blogs and you will find many who worship Dave Ramsey’s financial advice. Dave also has his share of critics that will debate his key concepts.
However, I can personally tell you that in one respect Dave is absolutely, positively wrong.
If you are a follower of Dave, read any of his books or even if you just see him occasionally you have probably heard him preach of the need for an emergency fund.
He promotes the use of an emergency fund for a number of reasons. I think most of all; Dave wants his followers to learn the habit of saving and focusing on savings. There are other benefits as well. But if you know Dave, you also know that he often refers to “Mr. Murphy.” Dave tells his listeners that when we have an emergency fund “a funny thing happens… Murphy stays away.”
I’ve been a good boy. I continue my education with all things financial. Our spending has been reigned in, we live on less than we earn. We have paid off all debt with the exception of the house and we have set up college funds for the kids and contribute to a variety of retirement and investment funds. Most of all, we have an emergency fund!
But Murphy is kicking my tail!
Not long I wrote about my ordeal with the A/C. Now it is the refrigerator. Here is the series of events.
- Two weeks ago – The wife thinks we left the freezer door ajar. Everything is melted.
- One week ago – The refrigerator is not cooling but the freezer is working fine. The evaporator is a frozen block. I defrost it overnight and plug it back in.
- Four days ago – The fridge is not cooling again, the evaporator is frozen again.
It would appear Murphy does not shy away from emergency funds, he want shis share!
With an overwhelming schedule at the moment and being a little gun shy of appliance repair companies, I seized on another opportunity to address this problem. Actually my son seized on the opportunity to make a little extra cash!
My fourteen year old son has his eye on a new laptop. I have a refrigerator that needs to be repaired….
No, he will not get a laptop for fixing the fridge! However, assuming he could save me the repair bill, we did agree to compensate him at a rate relative (but discounted) to the retail cost.
It is important to understand that our son, for all his wonderful qualities, intelligence and strong character traits, has virtually zero mechanical experience and not much more skill. He has never been one to take toys apart and could not care less how things work, so fixing a refrigerator would be a stretch to say the least.
Admittedly, I ended up helping a little. He needed silly things like to learning basic tools and how to use extensions. I also helped him to identify the major components and lastly I removed the ice-maker. Beyond this, he Googled, researched and directed the diagnostic and repair process. He removed parts and pieces, learned how to test electrical components with an ohm meter and fixed our refrigerator. Total cost: $35 in parts. We needed a new defrost timer. The final repair took two screws and a plug to replace the part.
What did I learn through this experience? Surprisingly, it wasn’t about money.
Don’t Underestimate –
You will be surprised what people are capable of if only you believe they are capable. Encourage your kids, your friends and your employees try new things whatever they may be. If they have an interest, they likely have the ability.
The same applies to us. We don’t believe we are capable of repairing an appliance, starting a business or completing a challenging task so we never try. Instead we pay someone else to do things we can do for ourselves.
Murphy will follow us regardless of our path. With or without an emergency fund, unexpected expenses will crop up. We can blindly pay to make Murphy go away or we can fight back. Only your willingness to take on these challenges yourself will save you in the end.
btw… Thank you son!
photo by G&A Sattler
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