- Put the car repair on a credit card and pay it off monthly with interest. You might do this for the airline miles, but my family doesn't do debt. Not an option.
- Drain the budgeted car repair fund and pull the rest from our savings account. I am so grateful that this is an option. However, we try not to use our savings unless disaster strikes. Sometimes we disagree about what constitutes disaster!
- Create a period of "artificial scarcity" by taking the repair money from cash flow. In this case, we paid for the huge car repair from our checking account. If I manage the next paycheck carefully, we will have just enough to pay the mortgage and essentials. Just enough. Even I am nervous about pulling it off!
Why deprive yourself for a month when you could simply save a little extra the next 3 months?
How many times have you said you would pay back your savings account, and then never did? Artificial scarcity challenges you to beat your budget right now. It gives you the panic you need to crack down on unnecessary spending. It makes you feel poor, and that's a good thing.
The tighter our money, the more creative our budgeting becomes. If I can "make do" for this pay period, then I don't have to pay back my savings from the next 3 pay periods. We can refill the car repair envelope instead.
I'm grateful that this temporary poverty is an artificial construct. Many Americans don't have that luxury. Those of us who do should not take it for granted.