Paying for a Speeding Ticket with Emergency Savings – MPSOS106

Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything went wrong? I’m having one and it might just cause me to pay for my speeding ticket with emergency savings.

This week's mishaps:

  • Our stupid backyard fence needed repair
  • My laptop battery stopped working
  • I got me a speeding ticket!

These are unplanned expenses that we need to take care of in a timely manner. These pleasant surprises can really derail anyone’s budget. Where do you go to get the money for all this stuff?

The Fence: This was unexpected but not a surprise. Two full days of heavy rain caused a few of our fence posts to give. Home repairs are something we know will happen from time to time so it is a monthly savings goal in YNAB every month.

It took less than $200 in materials and an entire day after church to take care of the problem. I’ll never get those 7 hours back but I can once again look over the fence and talk to my neighbors like Wilson from Home Improvement.

Computer Battery: I unplugged my laptop and brought it upstairs. I could not get it to start. Nooooooo!

After some troubleshooting I discovered that the battery was no longer holding a charge. It is a MacBook Pro which does not have a removable battery so I'll be visiting Heaven The Apple Store on Friday.

Speeding Ticket: How could this happen? It started off being a sweet deal. I used a “double upgrade” coupon for a rental car. Guess what I got? A sweet, red Ford Mustang!

You know what comes with a red Mustang? The opportunity to be picked out of the crowd by the State Patrol. Office Sukis was polite, professional, and efficient in serving me my rights as a tax-paying citizen on a public route – a $175.30 speeding ticket!

This type of expense is not in my budget. I have no category for breaking the law, do you? How do I take care of this unexpected expense? This isn’t what I would constitute as an Emergency Fund expense. Or is it?

Options for taking care of a speeding ticket

  • Show up for the court date and hope the officer does not in order to dispute the citation
  • Pay the ticket before the date
  • Don’t pay the ticket, don’t show up in court, and risk further penalties like a suspended driver’s license or warrant for my arrest

I was driving in 70mph zones for 90 minutes but wasn't *paying attention* when the speed trap limit dropped to 55. My inability to pay attention caused me to lose $175. Ouch!

Debt-free options for paying a speeding ticket

This is my responsibility – I get to pay this ticket. The due date is early June. This leaves me with another problem:

  • Take it out of emergency savings
  • Pull more money out of the business
  • Take it out of another budget category

This is not an emergency so it shouldn't come out of emergency savings. That wouldn't be fair to my family.

It's not a business expense and I consider the money in that account as retained earnings (which serves as both a business emergency fund and opportunity-builder). Again, this isn't an emergency and I also do not want to take any money out of that account unnecessarily.

My only other option to pay this ticket while remaining debt free (no loan, no credit card, no debt) is to find another budget category to take it out of:

YNAB shows that we have built up a good amount in the medical category – what do you think about that? I would feel really guilty taking it out of the car replacement or Christmas funds.

I should take it out of our Vacation fund but instead I will likely reduce the amount of money we send to investments this month. However, I promised my wife we would stick to stashing away a certain amount every month for my daughter’s car/college/wedding (in that order please). None of these options are ideal.

What do you think I should do?

Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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1 Comment

  • MrJoshuaBrown

    Reply Reply April 24, 2013

    I would likely use my “blow money” or the “entertainment” envelop (if my wife agreed) over the course of several months if I did this so I felt the pain.  In order to do this I would likely pull from my emergency fund to pay the ticket by the deadline and then pay it back over the course of several months until I restored all of the money.   My least favorite option would be to pull from the 15% I put toward investments each month.  
    My second option would to pay in May and just work it in to the budget by spreading the pain around to various categories (my blow money, the amount added to sinking funds, entertainment, etc.).
    My third option would be to work it into May by paying less on mortgage since I am on Dave Ramsey’s baby step 6 and am working on paying off my mortgage early.  I would just pay less over the min. payment.

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