$5,500 for Sawdust?

Everyone loves having a backyard with a deck or patio, meat is on the grill and a beer is in your hands.  I’m pretty sure this image is stamped in detail on the exterior of the Statue of Liberty.

My backyard fits this picture perfectly; we even have an enormous shade tree.  A beautiful oak, 4 foot diameter trunk, and a spread of around 100 feet, this tree doesn’t so much shade the backyard, as envelope it.  My wife was a bit skittish of the tree during storms, but I always reassured her that the tree was nearly 100 years old, that’s a lot of storms to weather; surely it could handle a few more.  Neither of us was concerned about the effects of a perfect, calm, blue sky day, but we should have been.

On June 14th, around 12:30 in the afternoon, my son and I were prepping ourselves for an afternoon at the pool.  I had just finished clipping him into the bike trailer, when loud cracking noises drew my attention skyward.  I watched in stunned silence as a branch ejected from the tree and landed on my roof.  Now just to be clear, this branch was like a tree in its own right, 40-50 feet long and over 20 inches in diameter.

Insurance was contacted, the branch was removed for $1,800, and the roof is to be repaired at a cost of $4,300, my only cost was to cover my $1,000 deductable.  Fortunately, since arriving in the leafy neighborhoods of Scarlet Oak, we’ve come to realize everyone keeps cash on hand for just these sorts of emergencies.  I actually began to enjoy the whole process, as I was able to open two new credit cards to pay for the damage, allowing me to collect the bonus airline miles (50k each), before being reimbursed by the insurance company.

Unfortunately, this story is not all trips to warm sunny beaches based on reward miles.  The entire tree was now unstable and needed to be removed.  We received an initial estimate for $9,000, not including the stump removal.  We believe in do it yourself projects, but this tree was a bit beyond our abilities.  We called around for some additional quotes.  Happily, our price ended up being $4,500, which is still a tough pill to swallow.  At just over $500 per student loan payment, this tree was eliminating 8 extra payments, when including the insurance deductable, we now lost 10 extra payments.

We did not however, rack up any debt what-so-ever, and we even gained over 100k in airline miles.  That’s the benefit of spending less then you earn.  Life’s disasters become non-stressful, manageable events.


We refinanced our student loan with Sofi, lowering our interest rate and allowing us to pay down the balance faster.


Make the change or ask me for more information.

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