What are emergency funds really for? Who draws the line on what is or isn’t an emergency? You had some interesting comments on last week’s post about using an emergency fund to replace a broken dishwasher.
Lots of people said that they live or have lived without a dishwasher and it really wasn’t such a bad thing. Many suggested ways of coping with piles of dishes, such as pre-rinsing or soaking the dishes in a dishpan. Several of you suggested that if the supply of hot water was too great an issue, we could always boil water in the kettle and then use that to wash the dishes.
A few people felt that the time convenience of a dishwasher definitely made having one worth the expense. Others looked on the bright side of things and suggested ways to make doing the dishes more attractive and less of a chore: do them together with my husband or, better yet, make my kids do them (sorry- they’re too young!).
Almost unanimously, you agree that a broken dishwasher is not an emergency, and we shouldn’t use our emergency fund to replace it.
Before I share what we ended up doing, I’d like to show you a photo of our kitchen with a day’s worth of dishes.
and in case that wasn’t enough, here’s a close-up.
As you can see (and what you see is what you get), our kitchen is tiny. We have two burners, a small workspace and draining board, and a sink which barely holds a 9×13 baking pan. The fridge is to the right in the first photo; the door to the left of the second photo leads to the toilet. Two people can’t fit in the kitchen at the same time unless they’re married or very good friends, and when the door to the dishwasher is open, it touches the fridge.
Because of the physical limitations of our kitchen, many of your suggestions unfortunately just aren’t practical, although I would use them, were we to have a larger space. Finally, after considering the time, energy and practical implications (ie, the hot water issues) of not replacing the dishwasher, we decided that, given the constraints, we needed to replace our dishwasher.
We were ready to empty the emergency fund and use it to pay cash for a new dishwasher although we recognized that it wasn’t the best solution. Fortunately, we found a better one: a store with a good quality brand and model that we liked, at an excellent price, where we were able to pay in 10 payments, with no interest and no charges.
Paying over a period of time might be like taking on debt (OK, it is) but I feel that this was the best choice for us for three reasons.
First, we won’t empty our emergency fund, but we do have the cash to pay in whole if we needed or wanted to. Second, our money is earning interest in the bank account, but we aren’t paying interest on our purchase. Finally, we were able to buy a better quality machine than if we had paid all at once. And, as one of my friends said, this is why I’m only almost frugal!
We all make different choices in life, based on what is best for us, our family and our lifestyle. For which appliances would you empty an emergency fund to replace?