How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense

How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense | Journey to Saving

Let me take you back to an incident that occurred last week.

R and I had been planning on taking a morning walk, but those plans died when we went outside.

We left our apartment and started walking down the breezeway. R was walking ahead of me, and paused to look the parking lot.

Oh no, I heard him mutter. That’s our car…

Wondering what in the world he could be talking about, I raced up next to him.

My car looked fine…wait, what was that on the ground next to it? I took a step back as my eyes traveled up to the gaping hole in my car’s window.

I blinked a few times, as though it were a dream. This wasn’t real.

“No!” I finally managed to squeak out, and I ran down the stairs, my heart beating a mile a minute. No was the only thing I could manage to keep saying.

I was gasping by the time I actually got to my car to survey the damage. I was pretty close to having an anxiety attack.

How could this happen?! I kept asking R.

Our car had been broken into. Or so we thought.


There was a flood of emotions running through me at that moment. Nothing of mine had ever been stolen or violated. I didn’t know what to think. We had left our car alone the night before, coming home from a grocery trip. We went on a walk afterward. Everything had been fine.

How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense | Journey to SavingWe assumed this had occurred overnight – it was around 11:25am when we made the discovery.

I was too upset to look around, so R hopped in the car on the passenger side and determined that nothing had been stolen.


Anger began to boil up inside of me.

You mean to tell me someone smashed my window in, for NO REASON? So now I’m left to pay for the damage they left behind? When I did absolutely nothing?

In my irrational moment, I kind of wished something had been stolen, so that there would at least be a reason for this random act.

I’ll mention here that I never leave anything out in plain sight in my car. There’s barely anything in my car. I always lock the doors. I am extremely paranoid about anything like this happening. We had an older GPS in the glove compartment, but again, it didn’t look like they even bothered with that. The doors were still locked.

Moving to a nice area was very high on our list of priorities, especially since I would be home alone the majority of the time. I didn’t want to worry about my safety.

We had so many questions, and no answers.


R made the call to the police while I called my parents, sobbing into the phone, wondering why this had happened. A few neighbors had started to gather around, wondering what the commotion was about.

Unfortunately, only one person could tell us anything. They claimed that they had just gotten home from grocery shopping at 11:10, and that they hadn’t noticed anything.

Which means someone broke into my car in broad daylight. My car was parked in front of an apartment. Who would do that?! (For no reason!)

That also means it happened within maybe 15 minutes of us getting out there. Wouldn’t someone have heard something? The only thing I had heard was a car honking, but that’s common here considering people fight for spots.

None of it added up, and the officer was unable to offer any insight. He said he hadn’t seen anything like it in a while. I guess everyone is going around trying to open locks, rather than smash windows?

After everything being inconclusive, I decided to search online. Apparently, there are many cases of glass spontaneously exploding, but seeing as most of the glass was on the inside of my car, I’m not sure if that’s what happened. I kept looking for answers hoping to have some sort of closure, but that wasn’t happening.


We classified this as an emergency. My car was not drivable, as you can see from the picture. We didn’t have a vacuum strong enough to clean that up, but thankfully the clubhouse lent us a broom. Since R’s car isn’t exactly reliable, we both felt uneasy about it.

How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense | Journey to SavingNot to mention anyone could hop in my car at this point! It was a sitting duck, and my stomach was churning thinking about leaving it outside like that. We didn’t have a choice.

No glass repair shop was able to come out (it was a Sunday). We called a place that had great reviews on Google+ (Mobile Pro Auto Glass, for anyone in the area!), and they gave us a quote of $150, and said they could come out the next day.

So we took turns going outside to look and make sure everything was still good. R had taped up a garbage bag to the side, but that wasn’t much of a deterrent.

How I Ultimately Overcame an Unexpected Expense

I am very thankful it only came to $160 with tax, but the kicker was that we had been planning on visiting my parents that weekend. We were also planning on leaving earlier, but I hadn’t felt well. I kept thinking “If only we had…”

I was talking to my dad, and I think he said it best. “Sometimes, sh!t just happens.” It’s hard to accept, but that’s all you can do.

In the following days, I made peace with it. I really don’t like touching our savings; it’s there for that reason, yes, but that doesn’t mean I like to use it! However, I’ve come to terms with the fact that life will always find a way to be uncooperative, and that’s what our emergency fund is for.

I know $160 is a drop in the bucket for most people, and again, I’m glad it wasn’t more (and that nothing was taken). The main point is coming to terms overall with using your emergency fund for its intended purpose, especially where truly unexpected expenses are concerned. I think it’s reasonable to expect your car to need repairs at some point, for example. But no one really expects their property to get damaged (unless you live in a bad area, I guess).

So I’m letting go, because it was something we had absolutely no control over. On the bright side, it happened in the beginning of the month, allowing us to move some things around in the budget. We still have all month to make sure we keep our spending in check. And we got a mechanic recommendation out of it.

R has been working overtime and I think this might be one of my best months for freelancing yet! And if you happen to be looking for a virtual assistant or a writer, let me know. =)

Have you ever experienced something like this? How did you cope with it? Do you regret having to spend on things out of your control, or do you not mind touching your emergency fund?

Erin M.

Erin is a personal finance writer and virtual assistant who loves talking about money and how to use it as a tool to get what you want out of life. When she's not obsessing over numbers or working (which is rare), she can be found messing around in Photoshop, laughing at her cat, watching YouTube videos, playing video games, chair dancing, or any random combination of the above.

57 thoughts on “How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense

  1. I’m really sorry to hear about the car, Erin. It’s horrible when something like that happens, isn’t it? We had our car broken into a couple of years ago (they noticed the circular smudge on the windscreen which told them we had a GPS) despite the fact it was on the driveway of our house. Try not to let it get you down though. It’s just a minor setback and no-one was hurt.
    Myles Money recently posted: The Financial Revolution Will Be Televised… on RealVision TVMy Profile

    1. It’s crazy the lengths people will go to just for some silly electronics. There was absolutely nothing to take from my car, and considering there are a lot of other nicer cars in the community, it led me to think someone was trying to steal the car itself. Who knows! I’m sorry your car was also broken into though. My boyfriend’s house has been broken into a few times, but I’ve never personally gone through something like this until now.

      1. The damage to our car wasn’t particularly expensive, but the emotional cost was very high by comparison. It’s so stupid because it’s just a window and it can easily be replaced, but my dad in particular was angry (that someone would steal from us in the first place), disappointed (that people are so destructive) and worried (that it might happen again and that someone might be hurt next time) and they are all really destructive emotions and very draining. It makes you less trusting of people too, and that’s another disappointment.
        Myles Money recently posted: RealVision – The Financial Revolution Will Be TelevisedMy Profile

        1. I definitely felt all of those emotions that day! It really is disappointing to know there are people out there who will steal whatever they can get. As you said, though, the emotional roller coaster was exhausting, and I just wanted to get off of it. Moving on is for the best.

  2. What a bummer! This happened to me years ago, right out front of my parent’s home. I was about to head to school and realized that my passenger window was smashed. I don’t remember if insurance paid for it or what, since my parents handled it, but it did shake me up a bit. I was pretty sure that I knew who did it, but I had no proof.
    Lauren recently posted: The Hidden Benefits of Credit CardsMy Profile

    1. That’s awful! I seriously cannot fathom why someone would do that. Key my car, don’t smash the window in. Ugh. I really wish someone had left an anonymous note if it was an accident; at least I wouldn’t be left wondering what happened.

  3. From my observations I can conclude that A) You took somebody’s parking spot and they were upset B) That’s what you get for not going to see your parents or C) Stupid kids trying to be cool. I watch a lot of CSI so I know what I’m talking about. =)

    Either way, sorry this happened, but I’m glad everything worked out fine (minus $160). Having an emergency fund is great for situations like these.
    Aldo @ Million Dollar Ninja recently posted: How To Track Your SpendingMy Profile

    1. Honestly, I kind of thought maybe someone was upset. We typically don’t park on that side of the parking lot, but that’s a little extreme. Two people came out onto the deck of the apartment we parked in front of, and they didn’t say anything to us, which was a little strange. Now I’m just going to be paranoid. =)

      I am glad, too. I’ve never had a broken window, so I was bracing myself for what it would cost. $160 was a lot cheaper than expected.

  4. I had my car broken into about a year ago, but like you, they didn’t take anything. I felt so violated and shocked by it, though. My car was parked off-street, but literally underneath the windows of two other people living in my building when it was broken into. Before that, I was parked in a dark, back alley – and nothing happened then. My now-ex was with me when I discovered it, and he was absolutely no help… He kinda chuckled, asked if anything was missing, and then carried on as per usual. Gee… thanks…
    Amanda @ My Life, I Guess recently posted: Tales from a Tenant: “Hello, Police?”My Profile

    1. What?! Your car getting broken into is not a laughing matter. Oye. R kept telling me to calm down as there was nothing we could do, but he’s much more laid back than I am. Violated and shocked describes it well. We have overflow parking off to the side of one of the buildings, so it seemed really odd that they came all the way over to my car. It’s really crappy this happens to so many people.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear, Erin : ( My wife’s car got broken into at her college in the parking lot – also in broad daylight. It can be a really unnerving feeling. Our renter’s car got broken into overnight as well and it was really unnerving for her. We live in a quiet residential area and her car is parked near a street light. It seems unreal that someone would actually try to break into a car – what is there to gain? Even in cases like my friend Jamie who had a macbook stolen out of his car, it seems like it would be hard to sell stolen goods. But anyway I’m glad you are able to move past it.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted: Side Hustle Idea: Delivering with DelivMy Profile

    1. Wow, I don’t get how people have the nerve to do that! Your renter was parked in the perfect spot to deter thieves. It’s sad people to go such lengths to steal the possessions of others. I can’t imagine the place you have to be in to think that’s a great option. I’m still weary, but unfortunately, there’s nothing else I can do but hope it doesn’t happen again, so I’m just trying to keep it out of my mind for now.

  6. Oh my goodness I am so sorry to hear that that happened to you!!!! I’m glad you got it taken care of, but now you have me wondering why someone would do that?!?! Very strange.

    Tonight in the car I told my husband how I’m taking a new approach (on life, I guess) and NOT stressing about money anymore! I am totally the type-A stress about everything personality, especially when it comes to savings…or, God forbid, taking money OUT of savings! It causes me anxiety and I usually wind up starting a fight with my husband. Not good!! So yeah – I’m committing to not worrying about money. That’s why we save – for things just like a car window being broken, car repairs, swarms of bees (lol), etc! Now let’s see if I can put this into action…

    1. I’m really not sure at all! The police were quick to tell us this area is generally very safe and peaceful, but I know there’s a few college aged kids living together in some of the buildings that have been disrespectful to R’s coworker who also lives here.

      I totally, totally know how you feel! I’m “type-A stress about everything” as well, whereas R is very much type B and doesn’t stress about anything at all. It can lead to disagreements, as he doesn’t get where I’m coming from with being disappointed or upset with money, but ultimately, being stressed isn’t going to solve anything. Good luck on changing your perspective!

    1. Agreed! It pretty much ruined our whole Sunday. I have to say I wonder if life would be a lot easier without cars, but we’re not close enough to the city to make that happen.

  7. I’m sorry that happened to you! I think I can identify with the range of emotions you felt; I once had my wallet stolen. I dealt with it okay immediately after it happened, and I even got everything but the cash back, but I cried about twenty minutes after it happened. I couldn’t explain how violated I felt except with tears. You’re absolutely right that there is nothing you could have done to prevent it, and I’m glad you’ve since come to terms with it. Life happens!
    Natalie @ Budget and the Bees recently posted: Are you late? So late? For a very important date?My Profile

    1. I was a pretty uncontrollable mess the first hour or so after we found out. It’s so frustrating when something like this is completely outside of your control, and you don’t have any answers.

  8. I am sorry to hear this happened to you! Unfortunately this happened to my car earlier this year :( My car was in Montreal while I was in NY and my friend had it for safekeeping. He had driven it from a gig to visit a mutual friend who was dying in the hospital and went he came out, someone had smashed the drivers’ side window. Nothing was stolen including his keyboards in the trunk that were worth thousands of dollars – thank God! Shit really does happen that is completely without good reason and like you, I was incensed by the person’s actions but ultimately decided to move forward. The cost to replace it was pretty near what you paid.
    Kassandra recently posted: Making Good On My Investment – Part IMy Profile

    1. This just makes me sick that that happened in a hospital parking lot! People have no sympathy. I can’t believe how many others have had something similar happen to them.

  9. Sorry to hear this Erin. Years ago I had a car stolen from a friends house and found it 24 hours later head on into a tree. Seems it was stolen for someone to joy ride in and then the throw a brick on the gas petal and into the tree. I was sick for to my stomach for a few days after the fact. I didn’t have an e-fund at the time. I’m glad that you do, but doesn’t help explain why someone would do something so senseless.
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted: Help a Reader: How do I get back on my feet without declaring Bankruptcy?My Profile

    1. That’s just awful, Brian. I really don’t understand what goes through someone’s head when they decide to damage someone else’s property. There’s a lot of injustice in the world.

  10. Sorry to hear about that…it really sucks. Hate it when people do stuff like this…and for no reason. I’ve seen some stupid kids keying cars just for fun… Of course, it’s good to have a emergency fund but sucks that it has to be used for something like this.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted: Embracing MinimalismMy Profile

    1. Exactly – never thought I’d be using my emergency fund for something like a window being smashed! We have a few people around here who have done stupid things already (someone stole TVs out of the gym), but my car wasn’t parked by itself or anything.

  11. UGH!! I HATE this!! I had my car broken into about 13 years ago, and I felt so violated. Plus it was a real pain in the butt dealing with getting a new window, car stereo, etc. I was thankful for my car insurance, though, as I didn’t have to pay much of anything out of pocket. Just goes to show that you never know when and where an emergency will pop up, they just do.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted: Commitment is KeyMy Profile

    1. Isn’t that the truth! It was a pain just to schedule the window repair, I can’t imagine having to deal with it further if anything was actually taken. I have a $250 deductible so insurance didn’t do much for me, but I’m glad I have it in place!

    1. A coat?! Wow. You can opt-in for glass coverage. I actually didn’t think I had any (my car is older so I have the bare minimum coverage), but it turned out I had a $250 deductible. With Geico, it seems as though you have a few different options as far as the deductible goes.

  12. Ahh! I’m so sorry Erin! That’s a total bummer. Who would do something like that? Seriously. I would be so mad and would probably cry too. Good thing you were able to work everything out. It’s a minor setback, but you always have a great plan! I’m sure something good is coming your way soon! :-)
    Katelyn @ Diaries of a Wandering Lobster recently posted: Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge with Free Tours By Foot NYCMy Profile

    1. It’s beyond me! A car alarm kept going off earlier today, too, and I finally went out to see what was going on, thinking it was possibly our other car. Thankfully it wasn’t, but it’s going to be a while before I don’t feel a little paranoid. Other than that, I can’t complain about how this month has been going!

  13. I’m really sorry to hear about your car. I don’t get why people have to do such mean things. I’m guessing maybe it was a couple of teenagers? I once had my mail tampered with at college…Several family members sent me cards for my birthday and they mysteriously never arrived. I’m guessing a few had cash or gift cards in them. It feels incredibly violating to have things like this happen. I’m glad that you and R are both safe and that you have the emergency savings!
    Liz recently posted: 6 Surefire Ways to Hurt Your Credit ScoreMy Profile

    1. It might have been, or just college aged kids. We do live in quite a diverse apartment complex with both younger and older people, as well as families. That is so strange you had that experience with your mail! I once sent something to a friend in a regular sized envelope, and it never made it. From then on I’ve always been worried about sending money via mail. :/

  14. Yeah that’s exactly it…sometimes shit just happens, but of course that doesn’t make the experience any less sucky. I had my car broken into in downtown Seattle on the drivers side but they didn’t take anything either. And of course it was POURING rain as I had to drive it about 30 minutes to get it repaired. I was so soaked by the time I got there I had to laugh..over my tears of course. :)

    1. Oh wow. What is with people breaking in and not taking anything? I was grateful that the weather cooperated that weekend, as there was no way the garbage bag was going to stop anything. Laughing over tears is sometimes the only thing you can do!

  15. That’s sucky-doodle – I’m sorry, Erin. We had it happen to us when we were in downtown Montreal and attending mass at the basilica. Broad daylight and we had our overnight bags in the car. They rifled through everything and stole my husbands wallet which he had left in his bag because it was bulky. Tampons and makeup strewn all over our van. Yup I felt violated. We drove back to the hotel we had left that morning and they helped tape a garbage bag over our window and we drove the two hours home. We skipped out on that night’s hotel near the casino because we were so frustrated and just wanted to get the h3ll out of town. Talk about putting a downer on a weekend away. I haven’t been back to Montreal since except for Irish dance competitions with my girls but this was on the outskirts of town. I’m glad you’re moving past it. It could have been worse.
    debt debs recently posted: 7 Financial Lessons Learned from My Parents’ DebtMy Profile

    1. Oh no, that’s awful it happened while you were on vacation. =( I would have left after that as well. Nothing screams “you’re not welcome” like theft. To be honest, I was actually concerned about this when we went to New Orleans, as we had a few things in the car. We made sure to avoid any sketchy parking garages, but that’s crazy they went through your stuff in the parking lot of a basilica. You’re right though, it could have been much worse.

  16. That must be so frustrating to have this happen for no reason, and to have this ruin your plans and make you question yourself about whether you could have left earlier, etc. $160 is a reasonable cost to fix this, but sadly the non-monetary price of this incident is bigger than that – you are losing trust in your community, and you are now living with another worry in the back of your mind.

    But the good thing is that you discovered it quickly and it’s not like your car was sitting around with a broken window for days, and it’s good that they didn’t steal anything and you don’t have to replace a GPS or anything, and especially good that no identity info could have been taken from there – imagine if you had your wallet or something in there!
    Kate @ recently posted: Avocado Chicken BurgersMy Profile

    1. To be fair, I didn’t have much faith in our apartment complex to begin with, but I didn’t think something like this would happen to us. It really stinks when I put so much time into researching the safety of areas when we moved, yet this still happened. Kind of ironic!

      My boyfriend has a bad tendency to forget his wallet in the car at times. Thankfully he realizes it right away, but you’re right. They could have gotten my car’s registration but it didn’t look like the glovebox was touched at all.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Yeah, I am really thankful that the worst didn’t happen. It’s always great when you don’t have to touch your savings, but it does help me to sleep at night knowing it’s there.

  17. It’s definitely always difficult to deal with something like this. I remember having a similar thing happen in the school parking lot when I was a Junior, and unfortunately my high school’s cameras weren’t working at the time. That’s why I’ve stopped leaving anything valuable in my car whenever I can avoid it. It’s nice that you were able to get a good deal. Hopefully more people are able to find deals like that when this happens to them in the future.

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