If you’ve ever lost your car keys or found yourself on the outside of your home with no keys to get inside, you’ll know the frustration and cost of this unexpected expense. To save you time and money we’ve identified four unexpected emergencies with a few ways to avoid these situations and extra costs.
Cost: +R1 000
There are few things as frustrating as finding yourself locked out of your home or car. While the cost of getting you inside differs according to where you are and the type of lock, Clinton du Plessis of C2Locksmiths says on average a call out to your home to open your front door costs R450 – R550. To get into your car costs around R550 – R750. For a locksmith’s after-hours service, you need to add R100 – R200 to the bill.
In some cases, the lock may need to be destroyed, which means you’ll need some repairs and new parts. Clinton says the cost to replace a standard house lock is R250. For high security locks, the costs can soar. And if your car is an imported model or has an electronic key, getting a new key could take some time, in addition to a high price tag.
Designate one space in your home – a hook, a drawer or a bowl – as your key place and always use it.
- Likewise, have a designated key place in your bag, office or pocket
- Keep your spare car key in a separate place from your regular key place
- Ask a neighbour you trust or family member to keep a spare set for you so that if you lose your keys you can still open up without calling a locksmith
Dropped and drowned phones
Repair or replacement cost: +R750
Our phones connect us, inform us, help us, and more. But they’re not damage proof and sometimes they fall onto a hard floor or even into the toilet. Few phones can withstand this kind of accident, which could mean you have to replace the device. Repairs could cost as much as R750, a replacement phone or part could cost in the thousands.
Avoid the phone fall!
- Get a phone cover case with a firm grip, such as one with grooves in the material
- Use an earpiece to chat, so your phone can stay safe in your pocket or bag
- Don’t overload your bag or pocket or hands, or multitask with your phone in hand
- Don’t use your phone in the bathroom
Take action to avoid water damage
- Get the phone out of the water as soon as possible, take out the battery – or power down if you can’t do that quickly – and dry it off. Wired suggests you dry off your phone with a paper towel.
- Put your phone on a dry counter, or put it in a bowl with desiccants – the small sugar size packages in shoe boxes and medicines
What about the popular trick of putting it in rice? It’s not recommended. Rice can be dusty, which is not good for electronics, and the rice itself may get waterlogged, which means your phone can get full of starch. You can also contact a mobile phone repair company, which you can find online or get details from your service provider. They will also repair cracks if you drop your phone.
Smash and grabs
Cost: R1 000+
Sadly, we lose precious and expensive items through crime. When your bag or electronic devices are taken, you lose not only the item but also all the information stored on it. Replacement value, if you don’t have insurance, runs into thousands of rands, and if a criminal gets their hands on your personal information you could become the target of a scam.
Avoid being a victim
- When you are driving, keep your bags and devices in the boot, under the seat or in a pocket next to the driver where they are not visible
- Consider investing in shatterprufe windows or window protection. A dash cam can also be a deterrent
Keep your info safe
- Make sure you encrypt personal information if you are storing it on your tablet, laptop or mobile
- We know it’s old school, but consider keeping a written list of important numbers so you are not left without any contact numbers if your phone is stolen
- Keep a copy – paper and scanned – of your ID and drivers’ license
- Avoid keeping your passport in your bag unless it is absolutely necessary because a replacement for a lost passport is around R800
Check with your insurance company whether you need to insure valuable items on the specified or portable possessions.
Flat or burst tyre
Potholes, uneven road surfaces and waste materials on roads make the possibility of a flat tyre quite high. A call out to repair a tyre starts from around R300 and if you need a tow your minimum cost is R850. A new tyre around R800, more if you drive a big car or SUV.
Avoid flat tyres with good driving habits
- Keep your eyes on the road – no phones, turning around or fiddling with the radio
- Watch out for potential hazards on the road and maintain a safe following distance so you can swerve or slow down to avoid them
- Keep to the speed limit – speeding increases the chance of you missing a hazard and can worsen the damage
- Check your tyre conditions regularly and replace them when the tread is low and they are unsafe
Have a roadworthy spare tyre and know how to change it
- Keep your spare tyre in your vehicle and in good condition – check it regularly when you check your tyres once a month
- Learn how to change a spare tyre – either ask a friend who is good with cars or your local mechanic to give you a demonstration and tips you can use
Be prepared, be careful, be vigilant
Unexpected expenses all add up and can quickly drain your savings. So be disciplined in looking after your items of value and prepare for some of these costs by saving in an emergency fund. We can’t avoid every emergency, but with some good habits and preparation we can make sure life’s surprises don’t throw our finances into disarray.