Earlier this month, I received news from back home that my uncle Rafo passed away. When I first heard the news that he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor back in January, I knew that I had to prepare to travel at a moment’s notice since well, la vida es impredecible (Life is unpredictable).
I didn’t expect him to leave so soon. I had managed to save up a few bucks but almost not enough.
After discussing the situation with my boss, I decided it was best for me to be with my family during this difficult time. I looked up flights. In an instant I purchased my tickets and had just 24 hours to pack. It was a big blow to my bank account. I’ll be tight on money the next few weeks.
“Nothing I can’t handle,” I thought.
Staying Prepared Is Tough
So far, I’ve managed to get by in NYC by sticking to priorities. It’s been a tough battle, I must say, because sometimes life can throw you a curveball and you are stuck with an unexpected expense. Hospital bills, car fixes, house maintenance—these can catch you off guard and throw off your game. So it’s always good to set aside a few bucks every month for these situations … or at least try to.
Rent, groceries, student loans, and transportation. These are just a few of the things I have to budget for. As a former SALT™ intern, I learned how to manage my money and budget for my future by exploring their website. It was an eye opening click-through that I encourage everyone to take. Now, after going through this experience, I realize that I need to add another category to my budget: emergencies.
Look Up Options
When faced with an unexpected expense, it’s best to remain calm and find the best option for your situation. If I had taken the time to look up information on last minute flights, maybe I would have found a cheaper alternative. Instead, I panicked and spent more than I maybe should have.
For example, some airlines offer bereavement fares, or compassionate fares, for these types of situations. This special fare is offered to passengers traveling for a death in the family, or an imminent death. Unfortunately, not everyone qualifies for these. Unless you really investigate and push for these benefits, some airlines won’t let you know that they even exist.
“Lo Que Paso, Paso” (What Had Happened, Happened)
My uncle’s passing was unexpectedly expected. I can’t change my purchase now, but I’m confident that the next time a pipe bursts in my apartment, or I need to leave the country, or I break a bone, I’ll be more conscious about my money. I’ll have an emergency fund in place, growing a little every month. And next time, I hope not to act so impulsively. By taking the time to do a bit of research, I’ll try to find the most affordable option and save a few bucks.
And everyone loves a few extra bucks here and there, the key is learning from our mistakes so we don’t repeat them. In the end, I’m glad that I was able to afford to be with my family—even if I could have saved a some more money getting there.
Have you ever had to pay for a major unexpected expense? Share your story below!
(Photo: Carmen Guzmán)