Well, it's been a Monday...
At first I thought, someone's put the decimal in the wrong place. So I checked the "calculate your bill" feature on the Water Department's website, and sure enough, the "usage" amount came out to $350 worth of water.
I promptly sent the Water Department an email, asking what was going on. I crossed my fingers and hoped that it was a meter-reading problem. However, they checked the meter, and let me know this morning that it was a leak. Since there is no sign of an 18,000 gallon leak inside the house, I began to suspect that my "worst case scenario" had happened far ahead of schedule - the water pipe from the street to the house was leaking.
My inspector did a great job checking out the house. Including pointing out to me that since the pipe entering the basement is galvanized metal, it would probably spring a leak sooner or later. I assumed that would happen somewhere far into the future, but it turns out it happened probably about a week after I moved in. I checked with the town, and the previous water bills for the property were normal, so I can't accuse the seller of knowing about it either.
I met with a plumber this afternoon and heard the damage - $2,300. I have about $7,000 in an emergency fund - which is for if I lost my job, not to pay for repairs. But I can cover the $2,300 without too much strain.
But this $2,300 comes with some other issues . . . First, I am having an arborist come by to trim some branches, since my homeowner's insurance company informed me that they won't insure me if the branch doesn't come down. I have one huge tree in front of my house (the arborist thinks its about 120 years old), with roots all over the front yard. According to the arborist, if the efforts to replace the water pipe damage too many roots, the tree could die - and the cost to remove the whole tree would run about $6,000.
I know, I know. These are the things people warn you about when you buy a house. But why did they have to come true just because I ignored those people?? Plenty of people buy homes and don't have these issues.
The part that's stressing me out is the fact that I can (almost easily) afford the plumber without too much hassle to my life, but what else is going to happen? Now that my worst-case, something-costing-over-$3,000 (including the tree-trimming) has happened, I no longer have the peace of mind of thinking "if something super expensive happens, I have some savings to cover it so the world won't end."
Any advice on what to do with my finances after paying for this? Should I stop making student loan payments and put the $500/month towards re-building my savings instead? (I have paid enough extra on the student loans that I don't HAVE to make any payment until April 2013, and even then, my minimum payment is only $140). Should I continue to pay the student loan as I've planned so that it'll be out of the way next January, allowing me a LOT more peace of mind and a higher savings rate?