At then end of January, I went out of town for a few days for a conference. I crossed paths with Hubby, taking him to the airport to leave for a conference of his own the morning after I returned. As I walked to the back of my car to help him unload his suitcase (see what a liberated woman I am?), I noticed that the left rear corner of my bumper was at an angle. Um, what? That wasn't like that before!! My beautiful, perfect car that I love very much had been marred, and the best we could figure was that someone had run into it in our apartment parking lot while I was gone. And, sigh, they of course left no note, no information...only a little bit of white paint and a crack through my taillight and bumper.

I am not usually a person who gets angry very often, but this lack of integrity riled me up. I can imagine myself backing into something, or misjudging my space and swiping a bumper on my way into a parking spot. But what I cannot imagine is then just continuing on my merry way, especially if I then had to see the marred bumper every day. Now, you might argue that someone could have not noticed they hit me. That's true. And you might argue that perhaps it was a visitor to the apartment complex, who therefore was not wracked with guilt at the daily sight of my car. That's also true. But assuming they did notice, they darn well should have left me their info, and maybe an apology. I wouldn't expect them to knock on all the doors to find the owner or anything, but a post-it note would have done just fine. End of story.

I walked around the lot a few times trying to spot the culprit, but to no avail. There was no unequivocal evidence, and I didn't know of any other avenues to go down. So, we sucked it up and began the process of getting it fixed. We took it to a body shop that our insurance agency recommended, and it was a very clean, nicely decorated, professional place, nothing like the grungy, seedy body shops of my imagination. The estimate was less than I had feared it might be, though still quite a chunk of change, and they ordered the part for us and had us bring the car back in a week. I was carless for only 3 days, 2 of which I drove Hubby's car, since he works from home now. All in all, it was a pretty painless experience, though one I would argue I shouldn't have had to have at all, since the damage wasn't my fault. But I digress.

A large part of why it was painless, though, is because Hubby and I employ....wait for it...a budget. This word used to be scary to me, but I have come to thrive on spending right up to my limit in a certain category in a given month and no more. I enjoy seeking out coupons and bargains, and it is comforting to know exactly how much we have available at an given time. And, conveniently, we created a "car repair and maintenance" savings category that had a relatively sizable amount of money in it. Thus, having to shell out to fix my car was mentally painful but did not financially cripple us. By preparing for the worst, we were able to express anger over the situation but not have to stress over scraping together the money. Though this might sound flippant or boastful, I truly don't mean it to be. I simply mean to extol the virtues of thinking and planning ahead, so that when life happens, you are prepared.

Now we have to work to rebuild that savings, but I think my coupons can help us a bit with that...:-)

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman