Our dishwasher broke Sunday night in a cloud of smoke and a puddle of water on the kitchen floor. It had been on its way out for a while, but we had been coaxing it along, trying to encourage it to live another day and wash another dish. Sunday was its last hurrah, however, and now we are faced with a dilemma: Can we tap into our emergency fund to replace a broken dishwasher?
We have â‚¬400 in our emergency fund, built up since January, and dishwashers cost a minimum of about â‚¬350. Here are the arguments for both sides of the dilemma.
Yes, we can use our emergency funds to replace our broken dishwasher.
My husband and I are both very busy, with tightly packed schedules. We have three young children, and our evenings and weekends are already filled with trying to accomplish the minutiae of daily life, running a house and being a family. Who has time to do dishes on top of everything else?
Not to mention that our small water heater can’t cope with the demands of baths, showers and washing dishes- someone or something is always left out (literally) in the cold. A dishwasher heats its own water. It can also be programmed to run during the off peak hours, when electricity costs less, thus saving money.
And a final argument in favor of replacing a dishwasher with our emergency fund is that this is what emergency funds are for: emergencies.
No, we cannot use our emergency funds to replace our broken dishwasher.
The biggest argument that I can think of for not using our emergency fund to replace the dishwasher is that we’re spoiled westerners who can’t learn to live without their modern appliances. After all, how many people live without dishwashers, or even running water? We can’t go back to washing dishes by hand, but instead have to empty our hard built emergency fund for what is essentially a luxury item? It would be different if we had saved up money specifically to replace our dishwasher, but we haven’t.
Not only is this not really an emergency, but emptying our emergency fund leaves us vulnerable were a real emergency to happen! One of my New Year’s Resolutions might have been to build an emergency fund, but another was to not acquire any new debt in 2009. And although this resolution has already been broken, it doesn’t mean that I should blithely charge away, accumulating new debt at heavy interest rates.
What would you do in my shoes? What choice do you think I made? What do you use your emergency funds for? And stay tuned for next Wednesday’s post, when I share what decision we finally ended up making.