February is one my favorite months, because we celebrate Black History and Love with Valentine’s Day. It is also a short month, so it doesn’t seem like pay days are from off from one another.
February 2021 has turned out to be one for the record books! If anything could go wrong, it did! Personally, we had to regroup on everything that was thrown at us and figure out a plan to manage all the setbacks.
Let me cut to the chase, we had to overcome unexpected setbacks and it is the importance of having an emergency fund and finances in order that allowed us to overcome them.
Setback #1: I knocked DJ’s driver side mirror off while backing out of the garage. Total cost for a new mirror $758
Setback #2: My car decided it didn’t want to start the day before we leave for a weekend getaway. No problem, the batter is currently under warranty, so I am good… NOT!!! The dealership requests that I replace the front struts, as they are no longer working properly, and the rear main seal of the engine was leaking. Ugh, I wasn’t prepared to hear that news, especially the cost associated with the repairs and replacements. I am looking at $2000 worth of repairs, and I know you are thinking, “why are you going to the dealership with the prices being that high?”
When I purchased my vehicle, I worked for the automaker, and they paid for all the maintenance of the vehicle. That is a perk I greatly miss now that I do not work there anymore. My car is 9 years old and I prefer that all the maintenance is done by the dealer. Except for tires, we get those at Discount Tire. For other small things, DJ takes care of those. I have all intentions of driving this car until it can not go anymore.
Setback #3: As our Valentine’s getaway was ending, the Polar Vortex was making its way across the southern states, which Texas was about to get hit with our very own Elsa (Frozen) like winter storm.
South Texas doesn’t do snow! I was two years old when our last BIG snow fall happened, and we are not prepared for consecutive days of freezing temperatures. Therefore, with a winter blast coming into Texas that meant the San Antonio International Airport was canceling flights left and right.
With no way to get home on Sunday prior to the storm hitting, that meant we would have to extend our getaway in Arizona. Meanwhile, my mother was now stuck caring for our children in our absence.
The next flights home was not until Wednesday, and if you saw the news Texas was one of the hardest hit states. Texas was completely broken! Millions lost power and water over 1 to 4 days. My mother and children lost heat, and our power continued to trip for the next few days.
Here we are more than 10 hours away from them by car and couldn’t get to them due to the storm. Thankfully, we have amazing neighbors who helped support them in our absence. One neighbor who was stuck out of town herself offered for them to stay at her house, since her house was warmer than ours.
To this point everything for this trip was booked using reward points from our credit cards, as this saved us $3,100 just on transportation (flights and rental car) and lodging. Throughout the getaway, our only expenses were spent on food and entertainment, which we had budgeted $1,000 for four days. There was NO WAY we could go over budget! Well that was until “Snowmageddon” hit.
With no way home and time kill we decided to try to make the best of the extended stay. We were able to use additional reward points to book another hotel stay in Arizona, but after a night, of children playing hockey in the hallway we decided to make a run for something better. I’ve never been to California, so off to San Diego we went.
Again, relying on our credit card reward points, we booked another hotel (FREE) and spent the next three days in San Diego. After that time, we had to wake up early on Wednesday morning, drive 5 hours back to Phoenix in order to catch our flight home to our girls.
As soon as we pull into the rental car return location and get out, we get notified our flight has been canceled AGAIN! Setback #4!
At this point, I am on the verge of a breakdown because we just want to get home to the girls and mother, as they are battling the lack of power and water issue.
We now debate do we drive to Texas, 13 hours in a snowstorm or continue to wait it out. We find a flight that is headed to Dallas, so we hop on that flight Wednesday afternoon to go to Dallas. From there our options are drive to San Antonio via another rental car or fly to Austin on Thursday. Again, this is all an evolving situation.
Mid–flight to Dallas I get a text from a friend saying, “a flight from Dallas to San Antonio is available for Thursday morning.” Things are looking positive, so I book that flight in the air using more reward points.
It is now a late and cold Wednesday evening in Dallas, whereas a day before we were just on a California beach. Now, facing 20-degree weather of snow and ice, we book another hotel for the evening but this time it is out of pocket. We just needed a place to lay our head down to regroup, rather than sleep in the airport.
Thursday morning, we get up at the crack of dawn to catch at 7:30am flight, that will take us to Houston, and catch a connecting flight to San Antonio. Things are looking positive again… Our flight to Houston would land at 8:30, and the connecting flight to SA would get us home by 10:30am, BET we have a plan! We have enough time to land, get off the plane, a quick restroom break, and a snack before the flight to SA, THEN we get a curve ball, our flight to San Antonio is delayed.
“Lawd! Please just delay it but don’t cancel this flight.” We are almost there! After 30 minutes, we get the familiar notification, our flight is cancelled. Elsa and Anna decide they want to build another dang snowman in San Antonio. This is now our 3rd flight that has been canceled in 4 days.
Being stuck in Houston, the next flights options are not available until Sunday, and all the rental cars at the airport have been booked or can be rented for $375 for 1 day… OH HECK NAW!!!
Thankfully, my big sister lives in Houston and she was able to pick us up and provide us a much-needed home cooked meal, love, bed and a positive outlook. Flying was now out the picture as we could not wait 2 more days, so we had to book another rental car that the earliest pick up was available Friday morning at 9am. Friday seemed different, as we were on familiar landscape, and very close to home, but don’t get it twisted, as we get to the rental car place we find they are closed. SERIOUSLY! This must be a joke! Setback #5
After a few calls we find out they do not open till Noon. Well that would have been nice to know! After many delays we were able to get our rental car at 1pm and finally head home to San Antonio.
Ten years from now we will probably joke about that one time, Texas was shut down, and we couldn’t get home.
It literally felt like we were in the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”. If we didn’t manage our finances properly or have an emergency fund to support the many setbacks that were thrown at us, February would have been in a hot mess.
Our getaway started with savings from the use of reward points, and a $1,000 budget. How do you think we ended? Overbudget and fat! Well not DJ, he watched what he ate, but not I.
Budget Breakdown: Reward Points
- Southwest Flights (San Antonio to Arizona) = Southwest Rapid Reward Points
- W Hotel Scottsdale = Southwest Rapid Reward Points
- Arizona Rental Car (Thursday – Sunday) = Chase Sapphire Rewards
- Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix = Chase Sapphire Rewards
- Hard Rock Hotel San Diego = Chase Sapphire Rewards
Budget Breakdown: Credit Card (For future reward points)
- Extended Rental Car (Sunday – Wednesday) = $440.67
- Gas $161.56
- Food $882.81
- Miscellaneous $143.26
- Activities: $35
- Flights $28
- Hotel: $111.87
- Parking: $246.28
- Houston Rental Car: $112
Grand Total: $2161.45. We were over budget by $1161.45! Most of our overbudget items was ate up with rental car fees and parking. Again, if this was about 10 years ago, we couldn’t have managed this where this would set us back for months.
Although, we have faced many setbacks this month and we are thankful for having a financial mindset that allows us to be prepared for the unexpected. I am believing that these set backs are a setup for a comeback for the Spring.