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Kevin, a mobile developer at YNAB, and his wife Natalie, a stay-at-home mom and part-time pilates and spin instructor, had been living in Vail, Colorado with their two boys: Warren, age ten, and Kyle, age eight. Every weekend, the family would set out into Colorado’s expansive, spectacular wilderness—skiing during the winter months and hiking in the summer.
Vail was truly amazing, but there was just one thing missing: the feeling of home. (They’d left their hearts in Texas.)
Missing relatives and familiar scenery, Kevin’s family decided it was time to return to Houston. So, in late August 2017, they packed up their life in Vail and headed home.
When they arrived on August 23rd, there were just a few unfinished details on their new home. Kevin recalls, “We got here, and the house had no floors, no carpet, no cabinets … So we moved in with my in-laws.”
Every move has its challenges, right? And this one had a few more surprises in store. Kevin said, “Hurricane Harvery hit a couple of days later, and then hung around. The water started to rise on Monday, and we left my in-laws’ house on Monday afternoon. The house started to fill with water on Tuesday … It was a mess.”
With their temporary home under water, Kevin and Natalie packed up their kids, and their dog Milli, and relocated with their in-laws to Kevin’s nephew’s house. It was cramped quarters as they waited out the flood.
To top off everything, Kevin’s truck needed new tires to pass inspection and, when they were finally able to move into their new home in early September, the air-conditioning unit went out!
“It was just one thing after another,” Kevin said, “Our move back to Houston was anything but easy. So much cash has flown out the door since we purchased this home, and now we need to replace our A/C unit.”
When the air-conditioning blew, Kevin and Natalie turned to their budget “to figure out how to pay for this little fiasco.”
By that point, their bank account was pretty depleted. Kevin said, “Natalie won’t let me touch the ‘Furniture’ category, and our ‘Remodel’ category is almost zero. ‘Auto maintenance’ was just hit hard. Maybe our ‘Christmas’ category? (Never!)”
The choice was obvious—it was time to tap into the emergency fund! Kevin said, “We’ve maintained a healthy emergency fund for a long time, and today we looked at each other and gave a big ‘THANKS’ to our past selves. A/C replacement fully qualifies as an emergency in Houston!”
Now that they’re settled, Kevin said, “I’m sharing my story because we’ve worked really hard to stay out of debt and save-save-save for the last 15 years. So hard, that sometimes we think that we don’t need a budget anymore. (We know what our months are going to look like, way ahead of time … right?) But the past few months have made me realize that you never really know what’s going to pop up!”
It was a tough summer, and Kevin shares that “Having a budget has been extremely comforting. It’s removed a lot of the financial stress from this situation. Because we budget, we have money stashed in all these little places (our YNAB categories) just waiting to do its job.”
And, as for the in-laws? Now, Kevin and Natalie are the hosts! Kevin said, “My in-laws are living with us, but they hope to be back in their house by Christmas! Fingers crossed we don’t have anything else pop up.”
You need a budget!
If you’d like to send a little something to help the residents of Houston, check out the Houston Flood Relief Fund, set up by J.J. Watt.
Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)
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