So you may have noticed it has been a little quiet over here during November. The short answer is things have been, to put it mildly, very, very busy. You know you are starting to get tired when you put the silver foil in the fridge instead of the cupboard….
So what has this got to do with the subject? I am glad you asked… this post is more around how your emotional side can affect your spending patterns and habits. What follows is not meant as a cry for sympathy or anything naff like that, but to demonstrate when money takes a back seat when emotions come into it. And that’s coming from me who tracks and categorises every last penny of spend and income!
So first it is probably worth setting a bit of background context. Last year I received two phone calls of the variety you always dread but know will happen one day. The very short version of it… “Come home…. now.” from an immediate family member. Whilst in the office. Never a nice thing – I am fortunate that my company was super supportive at the time.
This November I had a very similar, but possibly worse, experience. Sitting in an open plan office, on a conference call (fortunately internal), I had a missed call from one of my immediate families neighbours. To put it mildly, this is unusual so I knew something was wrong. Not wanting / able to drop off the work call (I was chairing), I texted to ask if all was ok and of course got the inevitable “Erm.. not really” response.
Needless to say we then spoke, where I was kindly informed that an immediate member of the family had been taken off by ambulance. They didn’t know where, or what was wrong. Cue 30 minutes of calling around the various hospitals near the family member until I finally got through to the “Ambulance Assessment Centre” (who knew ambulances needed assessing, but I digress…). Due to patient confidentiality they couldn’t tell me anything other than confirm the person had been brought in. Their mobile telephone wasn’t responding so something was definitely not quite right.
A very quick chat with my boss resulted in the “Just go” response – once again something I am hugely grateful for, the support my boss and the company have given me.
Blowing the budget
As soon as I got the nod, I packed up my work kit and headed back to our home, threw some clothes into a bag and loaded up the car (I had kept my head with me and packed a cold box as well as there are some farms up there!). As I had no idea how long I would be away for, not knowing what was wrong, I grabbed my away wash kit (lasts up to a month – vital for travel) and shoved in enough clothes to last me 5 days.
Then followed a lovely 200 mile drive up the wonders of the UK Motorway network. Unexpected costs here were the diesel and the M6 toll fare – honestly I just didn’t care I just wanted to get to the A&E department as fast as I could (within the speed limit, but faster than my usual 60 mph cost effective driving!). They could have charged me double and I would have paid it.
Eventually we arrived at the A&E department and, of course, had to pay parking charges. Lovely. Fortunately I had the change but no idea how long I would need so I just chucked some money in. When we did eventually manage to find our loved one, the only way we recognised them was by their shoes, they didn’t look like themselves. Never pleasant,but highlights the importance of being able to drop everything and go.
We remained in A&E for sometime and spoke to the doctors and nurses around what had happened and what was going on. Eventually we did leave (this may sound really harsh…) as what else can we do? Sitting with someone who is unconscious through the night isn’t going to help them or us, but being there in the morning of the next day would.
By the time we left we were very hungry, and of course hadn’t eaten since a quick bite at lunchtime. Driving round “my old stomping ground” all the restaurants and bars were shut, even the tesco’s was closed. The end result is something I am not particularly proud of, but I will admit it. We ate in McDonalds. Definitely not high quality food but we really did not care – it was food.
For a week I followed pretty much the same pattern. Wake up early, try and squeeze a full day of work before heading to the hospital, getting home about 7 hours later, to then finish work, sort out food and, naturally, have a drink!
So, what impact did this have on my spending? Well, firstly I don’t really know exactly how much I spent. I have an idea, I kept receipts where possible, calculated rough parking charges etc. but my November figures are a bit random, but.. this is roughly what went down…
- Toll road costs, diesel and trains. This was quite random but knocked things up quite a lot as Mrs. FiL kept going back to London for work then back to me, bringing clean clothes wherever possible
- Parking Charges. I am really not sure how much I spent on charges as I was parking there every day but there you go – I took a guess
- Eating. I place this as largely open. We had a couple of takeaways, pub meals, hospital canteen meals and a lot of instant meals – basically anything that meant we could eat fast with minimal effort – so paying the price for convenience
- Extra “items” – ok I had to buy some random clothes to keep me going – nothing major but simply to give me clean clothes – whilst I washed what I could I wasnt able to do everything so had to buy some cheap and nasty stuff – but it covered me!
- Other – I will just label this as everything – so books / papers / orange juice etc. – things that they felt like that would make things more bearable for both us and them
One thing I am eternally grateful for is that the last thing on my mind was money – yes I knew I was spending way more than I should, and whilst it hurt in the sense I ate into savings, it meant that I didn’t have to worry about anything financial – I could deal with things as they happened.
THIS is why you need the emergency fund – for emergencies. You never know what will happen in life – I am lucky that I was able to continue investing at the same rate, but I was in effect cash flow negative. I can’t imagine what that time would have been like had I also had finances to worry about. Bliss would have been being FI and not caring, but as it was I think I got the next best thing – a supportive work and not worrying about money.
Remember folks, make sure you keep that emergency fund intact (and not invest in the market…) – know how much you think you will need.