Financial Murphy’s Law: The Scariest of Octobers.
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I have previously written how October is my favorite month of the year.
This October, however, did its best to try and change that.
October often jostles amongst April and December for the title of most expensive month for me.
April is typically the hands down, runaway winner, because of the perfect financial storm created from all my annual insurance premiums coming due, as well as Uncle Sam capturing the rest of his share of my prior year’s wages.
April is also my birthday month and I typically treat myself well with food and/or travel, piling on to the expense ledger.
There is of course Christmas and the expenses associated with it that makes December a strong contender for position #2.
Even in a typical year, October is no financial expense slouch either.
As I have previously mentioned, I have 3 significant loved ones that celebrate their birthdays in October: my daughter, my fiancee, and my mother.
This triumvirate of events takes its toll not only on my wallet, but also on my waistline as I tend to overindulge with their celebrations at fine dining establishments.
This particular October, however, was quite a doozy as, along with the usual suspects, there were some quite unexpected and significant expenses that cropped up.
The Florida Birthday Celebration.
The month started out innocently enough.
As previously mentioned, my fiancee recently moved to Florida to take advantage of a job promotion in May.
I did not want her to celebrate her birthday without me so I hopped on a plane and flew down for the weekend where we enjoyed each other’s company and eating out at some amazing local restaurants.
With travel, meals, and of course a birthday gift, this set me back a little over $2k.
The Guest House.
For years I had been contemplating subdividing my property so that I could sell off the guest house (which I currently rent).
This particular domicile has caused me headaches to no end throughout the years.
My ex-wife tried to save her parent’s money in the building of the guest house and acted as general contractor, a position she had no experience in.
Her subsequent creation has cost me tens of thousands of dollars dealing with things that were not properly done in the first place that needed to be addressed during the rental.
I think 2019 was the final straw as there were some issues that cropped up (duct work problems, fallen tree, broken glass stovetop to name a few) that essentially wiped out any positive cash flow from the property.
The year before was no better as the completely superfluous and expensive bidet she had installed broke and cost me $3k to replace.
I therefore decided to take steps to sell the guest house and be done with it once and for all.
The first step was to pay an application fee to the county commissioner to indicate I wanted to subdivide my property, which came to $200.
I then had to get the entire property professionally surveyed so that I could officially parcel off the guest house portion.
A little over two days of surveying my 7.67 acres incurred an invoice of $1854.
I contacted the company and asked if they offered a cash discount and they actually said they would and gave me two options:
- $1800 if paid by check.
- $1620 if paid by cash.
Saving $234 (or over 12%) was a no-brainer for me and cash it was.
[Tip: It never hurts to ask if a vendor gives you a discount for cash as I have had 5-12% discounts on services like braces for my daughter, from my dentist, or even when I was installing a new front door).]
There will of course be other fees associated when all is said and done and this property is finally sold (I expect this to be sometime next year).
Sometimes there is truth to the saying, “no good deed goes unpunished.”
My daughter gave me last minute notice on a Thursday that she was hoping to attend a home football game with her friends and asked if I could come get her when it was done.
Despite having a busier than normal day at work and being quite tired at the end of it, I agreed to pick her up that night (meaning I had to go back out around 8:30pm and drive about 50 miles round trip).
About 6 miles into my journey, and a mile or so on the interstate, something did not feel right as I was driving.
The normally very smooth ride became quite noticeably not.
I instinctually pressed a button to check the tire pressure monitoring system and, much to my dismay, I saw the passenger right rear tire rapidly deflating before my eyes, going from about 35 PSI to 25 PSI in less than a minute (normal is 45 PSI).
I immediately pulled over on the side of the interstate and the tire quickly deflated to under 10 PSI.
Teslas do not have a spare tire, but I did have one of those tire repair kits which was a combination air inflator and plugging material.
Unfortunately the puncture was beyond the capabilities for this slime like substance to work and despite running the air inflator continuously, I was never able to get the PSI over 15.
The first thing I did was call my daughter and tell her what happened.
Fortunately she was able to go to a friend’s house and spent the night.
I on the other hand just started my ordeal.
I first called Tesla to see if there was a ranger service (where they come out to you and fix your car) at my location but, because I live “out in the country,” I was out of there service range for wheel/tire repair.
Also I was out of warranty having exceeded the 50k miles (I was at 97k miles at year 4) and was thus advised to contact my insurance company for potential towing as it was no longer covered by Tesla.
After about 90 minutes on the side of the interstate, I did get towed back to my home and was charged $93 (I have tow coverage up to $100/occurrence via my insurance at a cost of $10/year).
I thought given the presumed size of the puncture, that the tire would be lost (I had just purchased a set of tires less than 2 months prior at $250/each).
Fortunately the tow truck driver looked at it in my house and said he was going to run back to his home and get a tire plug repair kit (which he did).
Incredibly grateful that I didn’t have to buy a new tire I tipped him $40.
By the time the tire was repaired it was already past midnight which meant I had been dealing with this issue for more than 3 1/2 hours and still had work the next day.
The Land Rover.
As the old saying goes, when it rains it pours, and pour it did.
The most expensive line item in my financial ledger for the month of October was courtesy of my Land Rover, which, as I have previously written about, was my 3rd vehicle relegated to primarily garbage hauling duties.
I also use this vehicle whenever I travel and park at the airport.
Well it just so happens that about halfway into my drive to the airport to visit my fiancee, the brake light came on.
Strange, I thought I had replaced the brake pads on the previous service a year ago.
I could also tell that there was a distinct issue when I did try to brake as I had to push all the way down on the brake pedal for it to have an effect.
Fortunately I completed the journey to the airport (and back) without incident but arranged for it to be serviced right away.
It is never a good sign when your service advisor is as shocked as you are when the estimate rolled in.
Apparently the previous owner had driven this vehicle in much harsher climates than where I currently live, and issues from salt and rust and essentially destroyed the brake lines and exhaust system.
My advisor saw my face fall when she gave me an original quote of $8600 to repair it all.
Given that I bought the car for $6k this was a hard pill to swallow and I had to go through the mental process of determining if it was worth salvaging this vehicle or cut bait and shop for another one.
I kind of was stuck between a rock and a hard place as I couldn’t sell the vehicle, as is, to anyone as it really wasn’t driveable.
I also did not want to go through the hassle of getting rid of/selling this car and shopping for a new one.
I used my “Is there a discount for cash?” technique and she said she would work with me and do everything possible to drive the expense down.
I don’t know if she felt incredibly sorry for me, but when all was said and done she brought down the repair costs significantly, letting me get out the door (and still use my credit card) for $6900 ($1700 less than the proposed cost).
This is a gamble as I am hoping that this service breathes new life into the vehicle that really has minimal driving requirements and I therefore hope it will now be trouble free for many years to come.
I have already had experience with pouring good money after bad when I tried the same technique with two previous cars, I chronicled in my AUTObiography, the “Money Pit” and the Jeep Liberty.
Both of those cars cost me thousands and thousands of dollars as I tried to hold onto them much longer than I should have.
So maybe 3rd time is the charm or, alternatively, I have not learned from my previous mistakes.
There were also some “one of” expenses that happened to crop up and help make October even more expensive.
I decided to do some electrical work in my house and add some timers, outlets and other conveniences ($690).
I was able to purchase 2 great seats for an upcoming showing of Hamilton ($734) that I am going to surprise my daughter with (she has been dying to see it).
Because I was having issues with back pain when sitting, I upgraded my home office chair to one that really is incredible for my lower back ($699).
I purchased 2 outdoor hanging chairs ($658) for underneath my decks.
After The Smoke Cleared.
Just from the above items my credit card bill was already over $12.5k.
Throw in stuff that is too numerous to mention and add the costs for birthday celebrations for my mom and daughter make me feel like this was easily a $15k credit card billing kind of month.
Fortunately I am able to swipe the slate clean and not be penalized with any interest charges courtesy of funds not only from my W2 wages but also because of a bolus of passive income that I received from my 3rd Quarter real estate distributions (it was perfect timing to receive this mailbox money).
If the latter had not occurred, I would have used some of my savings to pay the balance in full to avoid any interest.
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