A Series of Unfortunate Events

I knew striking out into the world of self-employment would be tough. It's been tough, but what seems to be troubling me and my family the most over the past few months is the continual stream of cash that is leaving our pockets for things that keep breaking. In budget terms, these are the things we save for on a monthly basis, but don't really like spending money on.

Like car repairs and house repairs. Let's just start there for example...

In the past three months we've had a terrible series of unfortunate events that have kept us busy just trying to solve problems and fix broken things. So, many that I'm convinced someone is playing a joke on us.

First was the car...

As I mentioned in "The Price You Pay to Drive," cars break down. I know this. We save for this. But, it was working so well for so long, I guess I took for granted what "reliable" transportation was.

Fixing the Car
Fixing the Car

On a Friday evening after work, I went to start the car, and it refused to do so. After some tinkering, and jumping it, I convinced it (prayer) to start and managed to drive it home where it sat for a week while I tried to fix the problem (thanks Google, and Dad for all the assistance). It wouldn't start at all after I got it home that night.

The total to get the car running was $272.30. But, the problem seemed fixed and the car was restored to working/reliable condition.

Until about a week later and a totally unrelated issue poked it's head up... Overheating... OK, no big deal, filled the car with coolant ($7.80). I checked a few other things to make sure it wasn't something more serious, but couldn't find anything... (we'll come back to the car later).

The Dryer

text message
text message

I was working on a Wednesday (Kelsey was at home with Rooney) and I received this text...

I about lost it. At this point, we were down a car which I was struggling to figure out, and now I had to figure out how to fix a dryer. Reminder: I'm first and foremost a DIY guy. I'll try to fix it myself before calling a repair man.

Google saved the day again, and I confirmed the issue with a local appliance shop. This was just a minor hurdle. $17 later, the dryer was fixed and equipped with a brand new thermal fuse. Phew! We got off easy there. (fingers crossed)

Now the Minivan?

The battery in the minivan failed us over Thanksgiving weekend. As we headed into the frozen tundra that is Northern Iowa, the spoiled thing couldn't handle the below 0 temps for one night and refused to start. As it turns out, whoever put the battery in before we bought it didn't have a big enough battery installed. But, it was pretty old and worn anyway.

So, after having it charged, we were able to get home, but need to get a new (proper) battery. By the way, did you know Costco sells car batteries? They are about $30-$40 cheaper than a parts store. Great deal!!!!

Still, the new battery punched a hole in our car repair budget by $100.

Cold Water Last Week

I've been working part-time at Costco for the past few weeks (apparently just trying to pay for all these things that keep breaking). I've been stocking shelves early in the mornings (5-10am) then helping people with their finances the rest of the day.

Anyway, I came home last Tuesday and was looking forward to a nice warm shower before heading into the office. Only, there wasn't any hot water!

Pilot lights and gas lines are not something I like to DIY, so I did call a repair man for this one. Actually, this was the first repair man that I've had make a house call, EVER!

So, I spent the day trying to find a time for them to come and fix the problem. Luckily it wasn't anything major that required replacing the entire water heater. Just a hose that needed fixed.

The house call cost me $182.31. 

The Car: Part II

The car had been serving me well until the whole "not starting" thing happened again a few weeks ago. Not only that, but after some research, this particular issue is known to keep happening unless you have some security feature by-passed completely.

So... after some more research, I found the parts needed to complete that procedure, but it's going to cost another $200.

But, even before I could order the part, the car started overheating again. I was attempting to make it back up to Northern Iowa for the funeral of my Step-Grandma, I had to pull over in a rest area, and this time, there was no hope of getting it running again on my own. I missed the funeral, and instead spent the day trying to get back home to my wife and daughter.

Kelsey and Rooney missed a family wedding in Minnesota due to Rooney coming down with a cold.

Completely defeated, my father-in-law stepped helped out by having the car towed and kindly let me borrow a vehicle to get us by until we know if the car can be fixed, or if we need to look for a different vehicle.

Instead of being with my family on a day of remembrance, I was left alone wondering what in the world was going on?! I spent three hours waiting for a ride and then had to drive home. It was a long and frustrating day to say the least.

Cost for this one is still unknown.... But our current total is North of $500 of pure annoying.

Added Stress

As you may have read last week... We're expecting baby #2 in June. And, Kelsey just made it through the first trimester, but still hasn't been feeling super awesome.

Which... by the way... our food budget cuts were working well until the cravings kicked in.

Silver Lining?

Wow... that seems like a lot of complaining. Honestly, it's really sucked a lot out of us over the past few months. The irony is that It's created this heightened awareness that has helped me be grateful for the little things.

Things like... what a joy it is to dance with my daughter in our living room...


Or, reading bible stories together...


Or, just laying down for a minute.


Soon, we'll be a family of four, and everything will be different. I'm trying to soak up the moments of a being a family of three as they fly by.

And with all the troubles we've had, we've had many more of these precious moments as a family these last few months. Relying on God, and seeking Him above all else. These issues just seem to be distractions that are testing our character.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. - James 1:2-3 NLT

Have you ever felt like you would have been better off staying in bed all day?