I know what you are thinking, this article must be about that extra weight some of us carry around our mid-section after reaching a certain age. I hate to disappoint you but shedding extra pounds is not the subject of this article. I am not exposing any revelations in the area of weight loss. If you have seen me in person in the last few years, you know I am not an expert in weight loss. No, this article is about an actual spare tire.
My daughter bought a car late last year. I helped her with the car search and purchase process. She bought a Kia Soul which has so far been a great car. One item I overlooked during the purchase process was the Kia Soul does not have a spare tire. Instead it has a tire inflator. At first I was shocked and disappointed to discover the lack of a spare tire. I did some research and realized that many newer cars have eliminated the spare tire to save weight and cost. I began to think that maybe times have changed and a spare tire is not necessary. After all, tires are much better these days. I don’t have as many flats as I did in previous years.
I tried to get comfortable with the idea of no spare tire but something was gnawing at me. I found out I could purchase a complete spare tire kit from, you guessed it, Amazon.com. I made the purchase and put the tire kit in my daughter’s car. I told myself that she would probably never need it but it was reassuring knowing the spare tire was in the car.
A few months ago, my daughter picked up my wife and me at the airport. As we were putting bags in the car she noticed that her tire was flat. This is that busy area of the airport where many people are making pickups and the airport employees are doing their best to move traffic along. A couple of workers came over and put cones next to the car to sort of protect me while I changed the tire. With all the commotion and constant traffic, this tire change was a stressful event. I managed to successfully change the tire and we were soon on our way home and then to the tire store.
Upon arrival at the tire store, the technician told me the inflator would not have worked due to the large gash in the tire. In this case, the spare tire saved the day or at a minimum saved us from an expensive tow. For our situation, the spare tire was a better backup plan than an inflator.
Establishing a good back up plan is a wise move. Many years ago, while taking flying lessons, my instructor told me to play the “what if” game. The “what if” game is played by constantly asking a mental question about the current situation. For example, what would happen if my engine died or what if my primary airport is closed or what if I get lost. The idea is to think about things that might go wrong before they happen. By playing this mental game, a pilot is better able to react to an urgent situation because the surprise is limited and there is a chance a recovery plan has already been considered.
While I don’t advocate playing the “what if” game all the time, there are situations where the concept is very helpful. A great place to play the “what if” game is when developing a financial plan. Here are a few examples of financial “what if” questions.
- What if I lose my job?
- What if I get sick?
- What if the economy goes bad?
- What if my car breaks down?
- What if I need a major house repair?
I am not advocating a life of paranoia with this suggestion but the events listed above can be serious with significant and possibly long term affects. It is not a question of if these sorts of things will happen but when. A mistake many people make is spending money and accruing debt as if they will never have any significant life issues. In other words, they never play the “what if” game.
A financial crisis happens when people spend more than they make and there is a call to reconcile the difference. One tool that can help avoid a financial crisis is a budget. Budgeting is not a very exciting topic but it is a positive step in avoiding a crisis. Part of the budgeting process is to set aside some money in an emergency fund in preparation for the “what if” questions that will certainly arise. Maintaining an emergency fund can bring peace of mind.
Do you have a budget? There are plenty of budgeting tools and training online. Have you played the “what if” game with your finances? Give yourself some margin from a financial crisis, start budgeting today.
Make the most of this day!