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Why Budgeting Matters – Our Plumbing Nightmare

You have heard me, MC and Sean Eddy go on and on about budgeting.  You’ve heard us beat that horse dead a number of times.  Trouble is, the horse keeps getting back up and more and more of our brothers and sisters in the 3 disciplines are sinking into debt.

MC and his bride paid off a shit ton of debt, $77,000 if I recall, all while on a cop salary and raising 2, then 3 kids. They took that experience and turned it into a venture to help others in their situation, GPS Financial Coaching. Mrs HM and I watched from the sidelines as they put their noses to the grindstone and sold anything not bolted down (A Dave Ramsey quote).  We never went full Ramsey, we weren’t very deep and had paid off the credit cards a few years before they started.  The big thing was the budgeting.

Let me start off with why, then I’ll tell you the how.

We live in a house built in the 1950s.  It has charm and character.  It also has 60 year old pipes.  The other day the wife calls me at work (first day of a 48) and informs me that water is backing up into the sink in the garage.  It shares a drain with the washing machine so I walk her through some basic drain cleaning steps and a few hours later she calls to tell me the water has gone.  Cool.

I get home 2 days later and crawl under the house to see what I can see.

What I see is standing water in my crawlspace and the drain line from the front of the house completely broken free from the sewer system.  Sewer gas and water from the garage, laundry and kitchen has been flowing into our crawlspace the entire time.

I believe my initial response after crawling down there was something along the lines of, “This is bad!  Holy Shit this is bad!” because when I came back up, covered in stench, the 9 year old was in tears.  Later I would find out it was because she knows that if daddy panics there is trouble.

We got a plumber to solve that problem very quickly.

PlumbersWhat we didn’t know was that the pipe didn’t just fall out because of poor strapping and support, like we thought.  This was a symptom of a larger, more ominous problem.  A problem that would become an emergency later that night when the drains began to back up into our brand new shower.

After cleaning it out and waiting, it eventually drained but the plumbing company sent a crew out to assess the problem today.

Here’s where the budget kicks in.

Do you have $5000?  Right now?  Because they just spent 5 hours trying to unclog the lines and can’t get more than 5 feet before finding broken pipes.  And that only covers what we can see.  They have to break up asphault and concrete, dig down and make repairs.  Repairs on pipes that haven’t moved in 60 years.  Oh, and there’s still another 50 feet of pipe to inspect.  Sure you could “put it on the card” and hope you get hired for a few dozen overtimes, but because we followed MC’s example and looked months ahead we have an Emergency reserve.  Add to that we’ve been saving for a new roof and this disaster goes from a “We’re ruined” to a “We need to fix the budget to reflect these new expenditures” while not cancelling our Disneyland trip while repairs are made.  That, my friends, is piece of mind.

There are a number of large holes in my back yard, broken sewer lines in multiple locations, we can’t wash dishes or shower.  Toilets are only for emergencies.

And it is a mere inconvenience.

All because we thought ahead and paid attention to where our money goes.  Each and every dollar.

MC is not only a friend and a brother, he is an example of how to truly provide for your family.  I used balk at some of the extremes they went to but we learned from their example and are better off for it.


Get on a written budget.  I can not stress that enough.  Manage your money or let it manage you, your choice, but if I hadn’t changed my ways I’d have no way to get the water flowing in my house again, let alone be able to pay it off later at 18% interest.

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