Early this year, tornadoes whipped through Arkansas (as they have several times since then), doing major damage to many, many structures. Although our home sits down in what we like to call a "holler," part of our property is more elevated and in a clearing, and so is subject to high winds. It's in that part of the property that our "shop" building is located. In the storm cycle I've mentioned, we lost almost every shingle on the west side of the building, and the roof began to leak.
Obviously, this had to be repaired, but the estimate for repair was $2100, which we simply didn't have. Our homeowner's insurance wasn't a whole lot of help, since our deductible is $1500. So we were preparing to do what so many of our neighbors were doing with their homes, which was to effect a homemade rain-barrier made of tarps and sandbags and try to save up the money needed for repair.
But a couple of things happened around this time which were serendipitous, and allowed us to learn from the experience. First, we got our income tax refund, which was around $1100. Lesson: always file your tax return as early as possible. Second, we got a break from a roofing company for being willing to have our repair done right away--it seems that our job was small enough that they could fit it between two larger jobs, which made it more cost-effective for the roofing company. This saved us around $1,000, making the cost of the repair just about equal to the amount of our tax refund. Lesson: Even if it means sacrificing other things, make repairs in a timely manner if at all possible. We also saved a little money by going with a readily available shingle (in a different, but compatible, color) instead of waiting on delivery of the shingle that was previously on our roof. Lesson: Be flexible.
On the one hand, it stunk that we weren't able to use our income tax refund on some other things we needed. On the other hand, we were very thankful that we HAD the income tax refund when our roof blew off.