Timber… its going down.

I am making a decision to have two trees removed from my property (for various reasons). These trees are not cheap to remove, and I’ve been planning for a while to do this. But is this really the time?

The entire world has nearly shut down – restaurants, non-essential businesses, everyone working remotely. Nearly every email I get is from some organization saying to practice “social distancing” and to wash your hands.

All of these things have ripple effects on the cash flow of business, employees, personal budgets, and goals. We are operating in uncertainty to be sure, and tomorrow (is never) guaranteed.

Why am I removing these trees? The front yard tree hovers lovely over my yard, providing shade, bird poop and sap for any vehicle who dares to park in the driveway. The back yard tree hangs dangerously wide over mine and my neighbor’s home, drops maple seeds, helicopters and leaves nearly all year long over the wooden deck, constantly clogs the gutters and is quite frankly, is a bridge for ambitious squirrels to explore opportunities to nest in our attic. Not having it this year.

I LOVE TREES. I do, I love the outside, the woods, the wild. However, I’m convinced that should you own a home and want “mature trees”, make sure they are away from your home, far off in the yard. This was my first home purchase about five years ago – and man, have I learned a LOT about what NOT to do. Anyways… back to budgeting….

I have saved $3,000 to remove the dangerous and frustrating trees from my property. Getting quotes from tradesmen is probably a whole other blog post waiting to happen. For now, one conversations stood out with my budgeting antenna up.

Saved $3,000
Saved $3000

He said with all this Corona virus stuff going on, “…his phone has nearly stopped ringing.”. Paraphrasing, his deduction was that “People are scared and don’t want to spend their money on any non-essentials.”

This got me thinking. Maybe I am being naive, spending money on something like tree removal. Is this a frivolous use of finite resources in the midst of a global pandemic? Perhaps everyone buying all the Toilet Paper and Bottled water and Mountain House meals is “right” and I am “wrong”. Time to stock up and hunker down. Guns and butter strike again!

After politely declining his WAY overpriced quote, and heading back inside, I realized something separates me from the [financially] panicked individuals in this crisis. Well, a few things actually. One, I’m not in retirement, or close to it. That gives the markets and such things time to even out. Whatever happens in that space happens – fodder for many blog posts to come.

More immediately though, to those in a similar financial part of their journey as I am – is my budget. Yes, you heard me right – my budget separates me from those financially panicking. Its necessarily the presence of money – its knowing what its meant to do.

My budget outlines some very important lanes for my money to swim in. For instance, I have an emergency fund – not as big as I’d like, but has been steadily growing. I have money set aside for my goals – taking it one pay check at a time. If I lost my income suddenly, I could weather the storm for at least a few months’ of mortgage payments and bills. See what I mean? Each swim lane (budget category) is the path for that swimmer (my funding goals). Some may be faster or slower – but all are moving towards their personal records.

Of course I’d want all those to be more and better. I’d like a very large emergency fund, I’d like my financial goals to be maxing out my retirement (especially with these low stock prices!) instead of paying off debt, I’d like to have a year’s worth of living expenses available if I lost my income suddenly, not just a few months. “I’d like a bathroom I could play baseball in…” (#Nickelback, guilty pleasure). Ahem – moving on.

Still, I have enough (and righteous justification) to warrant this tree removal. I don’t feel frivolous spending money during a pandemic on “non-essential” services. If the tradesmen are looking for the business, and I am looking for a tree-less suburban yard, then let’s do this. I was also able to negotiate a pretty good deal (probably due to lack people wanting trees removed right now), AND negotiated a “cash discount” due to my newfound ability to pay for things like Tree Removal in cash. Financing is a thing of the past for this Budgeter!

My net take away is that no, not all my goals are met. However, this is important and a good investment of my cash assets that will keep my house, car and yard in good condition, and living here that much more enjoyable. And, I’m already stocked up on TP, soooooo….

I feel accomplished. Every day my finances slowly improve, my financial net worth moves slowly towards the black and my car will profusely thank me for saving it from years of sap and acid bird poo. Heck, I may even splurge and get the car detailed to celebrate the lack of sap dripping on its hood this year.

So what do you think – does it matter how much my safety net has in it to determine whether I can make a big financial purchase during uncertain financial times? If you were me, would you throw the tree money towards your goals, hold onto it for the unknowns, or remove the trees before they leaf up for the summer?

Not my car… but it empathizes.

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