Accountant by Day

Plumbing problems

If you read my last post, you'll know that I'm facing a hefty bill to get the water line from the street to my house fixed this week. Yesterday, I was feeling more upbeat about the situation, and figuring out how I could scrounge some extra money out of Prosper (about $600), and a reimbursement check I'm expecting from work ($450), plus about $100 from Google Adsense since I finally qualify for my first payout (yay!).

But then I decided to switch plumbing companies, since the plumber I had originally wanted suddenly had time in his schedule for me when he heard I was going with a different company. After talking to my arborist, I decided we should take a more circuitous route with the pipes to avoid cutting tree roots close to the trunk. I felt like I trusted this other guy to avoid as much damage as possible to my tree, plus he quoted me a price a bit lower than the original company did for the extended route. So, my new price is $2,400 for the longer route. I was okay with that price, and felt confident that the tree was going to be as safe as possible.

But then the first plumbing company came back to me asking for $300 to cover the permit they had already gotten from the city (apparently $200 for the permit, and $100 for the labor to get the permit.) So now my total cost for this thing is going to be $2,700.

So just like that, the few hundreds of dollars that I had "found" from sources other than my emergency fund are quickly wiped out by this new turn of events.

And of course, I've learned some lessons, such as if I want to comparison shop, I shouldn't give the first company the go-ahead right away. Also, a lot of people seem to think I should "put my foot down" and refuse to pay the first company anything, but I just can't do that, because they did spend time and money on the permit, and they did agree to do the job on very short notice - which is why they pulled the permit so quickly. I realize that there are people out there who would just say no, they're not paying, and the company probably would take the hit without pursuing action, but... sigh.  Can't do it.

But, I'm cooking up some black beans right now... I plan to make this my lowest grocery-spending month ever! (Well, since I started keeping track that is...)


Worst case scenario

Well, it's been a Monday...

I received my first water bill last Saturday, just over a week ago. My heart stopped for a second when I saw the charge: $350.

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?