Find Your Spare Tire Before You Need It

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Yesterday morning was a jolt to the system. After 12 weeks of being able to start my day at my own pace, I found myself in unfamiliar territory – two rug rats who were a lot more awake than I was, and a tight schedule to get dressed, eat breakfast, and leave for work. Okay, “leaving” means climbing down a flight of stairs to the basement, but it counts.

Abrupt change is a shock to the system, even if it’s something you want. I have to be honest. I wasn’t heartbroken at the prospect of spending a few weeks at home in January. It was a taste of what retirement might be like. The verdict is in – I’ll survive that just fine when the time comes. I never resorted to leather sandals and black knee socks, but the rest felt pretty good.

Still, in the back of my mind, I knew it was temporary. Any time that fact slipped my mind, I had my wife to remind me. Women worry about these things a lot more than men. I knew we’d be okay. I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy most of the time. Any time it starts looking empty, I just pour it into a smaller glass. And a shot glass is still technically a glass. I’m just saying.

Thankfully we had some things going on the side before my job went away. Not enough to live on, but every little bit helps. It’s important to have something to fall back on while you still have the ability to stand. Because sooner or later, something will come along and kick your feet out from under you. And trust me, that ground gets a lot harder with age.

When that happens, our first reaction is usually some level of panic. Then we start to think a little more rationally. Finally, creativity slips in and we start looking at things we’d never considered. The only problem is most of those creative ideas require a little time to start generating an income. If only you’d started six months ago. Sound familiar?

And what happens? The crisis ends, and we go right back to what we were doing before. Only this time, it’ll be different. Because we said so, that’s why. And if the same thing happens again, we’ll be a lot better prepared. Only next time, it won’t be the same thing. It’ll be something you’d never anticipated. Like now. Who would’ve ever dreamed of something like this?

Well, you know what they say about doing the same thing and expecting different results. It’s delusional, at best. My street has two ends. They never change. I can drive from one end to the other, and I’ll always end up in the same place. It doesn’t matter how I drive, or what kind of car I use. The destination is always the same. Unless the brakes fail. Then things change real fast.

That doesn’t mean what you were doing before is all wrong. But if what you were doing left you high and dry with nothing but a savings account to fall back on, you may want to consider a different approach moving forward. And the time to get started is now – before the need arises.

Cars have a spare tire you hope you never need, but potholes happen. And when they do, they can literally knock the wind out of your tires. That’s pretty much true with most things in life. Things will never be the same as they were, and they won’t always go the way we’d planned. The question is, do you have a spare?

Dad always used to remind me to check the air in my spare tire. You see, it’s not enough to have something on the back burner, forgotten until the need arises. A spare tire needs an occasional shot of air, fire extinguishers need to be recharged, and fallback sources of income need to be running above idle. At the very least, keep some gas in the tank. Good stuff.

Change affects us all in different ways, and preparation helps to minimize the impact. Hopefully you were ready for this crisis. But could you do it again next year? It could happen. You can save yourself a lot of sleepless nights by finding that spare tire today. Hopefully you’ll never need it. In that case, it’s just money in the bank. And who couldn’t use a little of that?

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Plan for Tomorrow – It’ll Get Here Sooner Than You Think

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

For the first time in months, I made it through the weekend without a trip to the grocery store. That doesn’t happen very often. And don’t get me wrong – when we need groceries, I like to go along. But I guess we’ve been stocking up over the past several weeks, so there’s really nothing we needed at the time. Again, that doesn’t happen very often.

Some things you can’t stock up ahead of time. Milk has an expiration date that you can’t really ignore. With other things, expiration dates are more of a suggestion. I’m not sure if there’s a shelf-life on macaroni noodles, but I’d feel pretty safe throwing them in boiling water after the expiration date. Yogurt, on the other hand, is a little more testy. When the foil lid is bulging, it’s about to open itself.

My mom always kept extra dry foods and canned goods in an outdoor pantry. When it became evident my dad’s employer was about to go under, she began stocking things up to make sure they’d be able to ride out any periods of unemployment. It was a smart move. Until one of the neighbors helped themselves to most of what was in the cabinet. But that’s another story.

There’s a reason farmers have silos full of grain that they won’t need until next year. It’s the same reason we save money, or at least try to, when we have a little extra. Or that we carry an umbrella in the car on sunny days. It’s about having what you need when the need arises. Or, as the saying goes, dig the well before you get thirsty. You know the need will be there someday. So, plan for it.

There have been more than a few times in my life when I’ve been caught off-guard with a job loss or an unexpected expense. We like to think we can plan for the future, but in all honesty, the future just gets a good laugh out of that. If you think you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s like a challenge to the gods to throw you a knuckle ball. And believe me, they will.

That’s why batters wear a helmet. Odds are they can stand at the plate five hundred times and never get hit with a fastball. But it only takes one wild pitch to really mess up your day. And when that pitch is coming in at 90 mph, they don’t have time to run back to the dugout and grab a helmet. So, they put that helmet on just in case.

Have you ever been driving to work and somebody decides to take your spot in the road? It happens all the time. And hopefully we’re alert enough to avoid an accident and get to work with nothing more than an elevated heart rate. But what if we weren’t able to take evasive action quickly enough? What if, instead of another car, it was a dump truck? That can really mess up your day.

And it can turn your whole life around in an instant. Last year, when I found out I needed brain surgery, it brought home a reality none of us ever wants to think about. In my case, it was relatively minor (something to do with the size of my brain, or so I’m told), but it could have been a life-altering event. And it’s not like I planned for it ahead of time. It just happened.

It’s a good feeling knowing you’ve got things pretty well under control, but in a lot of ways, that’s just an illusion. What it means is you’re controlling the things you can control, but with everything else you’re just along for the ride. And, like a rollercoaster, the track can take a sudden turn downward and there’s nothing you can do but hang on for dear life.

I guess that’s why I’ve always tried to maintain some kind of second income. It’s not much, and certainly not enough to live on. But when the chips are down, a little here and a little there can add up quickly. Especially if it’s something you can do from home, without any strenuous effort. The doctor only says you can’t drive or lift more than ten pounds. That leaves a lot of possibilities.

We never know when life may turn on a dime and leave us scrambling just to maintain what we’ve got. It’s nice to kick back in a recliner and let life go by without us. But there may be a day when we’ll wish we’d put some of that time to better use, or we’ll think of all those opportunities we let slip by.

Put on the helmet now, before you stare down a wild pitch. Set something aside for a rainy day. Take another look at those opportunities. Maybe you’ll never need any of those things. But what if you do?

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s Never a Problem if You’re Ready For It

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off nicely.

Today I slept a little later than normal. That happens when you don’t use an alarm clock. I still woke up with plenty of time to get the day started. I just had to change things up a little. It’s like stepping in the shower and finding out you’re out of shampoo. You improvise. Body wash isn’t the ideal way to clean your hair, but it works in a pinch.

No, I didn’t run out of shampoo. I always keep a spare bottle on hand because I know how that works. You can feel that the bottle is getting a little lighter, but every time you pick it up, there’s still more. In fact, a lot more than you’d thought. Then one day you give the bottle a squeeze and it makes that disgusting bodily sound that never fails to get me in trouble at dinnertime. Or any other time. I’m just saying.

So, you reach for the spare and toss the old bottle aside. If you’re lucky, you remember to throw that one in the trash. Otherwise, you’ll find another reason I tend to get in trouble. Hey, it’s not my fault we don’t have a trash can next to the shower. And by the time I’ve opened the new bottle, the old one is a distant memory. There’s no eulogy or proper burial. Life just goes on.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. Something unexpected happens, something that could disrupt your day (or longer), but you still have other things to do. You can’t just bring everything to a grinding halt because one thing didn’t go as planned. You pick up the pieces, adapt, and get back into action. If it’s an empty shampoo bottle, it’s no big deal. Other things may require a little more effort.

There will always be something that doesn’t go according to plan. That’s why most cars have a spare tire in the trunk. Not all – apparently some of the newer ones don’t have a spare. Not even one of those little donut tires that’s good for 50 miles on baby-smooth road if you keep your speed to a turtle’s pace. But at that moment, you’d take anything reasonably round that’ll bolt onto the axle.

Do you keep spare light bulbs around the house, or do you run to the hardware store every time you flip the switch and nothing happens? Do you keep food in the pantry that you probably won’t eat this week? Do you buy an extra bottle of vitamins before you run out? Have you ever bought ten pieces of poster-board to get ahead of kids who never mention that school project till the night before it’s due?

Okay, I may be alone in that last one. But my grandson was notorious for coming up at 8:00 in the evening and telling us he had an assignment due the next day and if we didn’t run to the store and buy him a piece of poster-board, he wouldn’t be able to complete his assignment and it would be all our fault. I always loved that little shift of blame. Seriously?

And sure, I could have told him tough luck – take a zero, because you knew this assignment was due a week ago and didn’t say anything until now. But you know, it’s more fun to just hand him a clean piece of poster-board and say, “Here – now it’s all on you. Get to work.” I won’t say he learned a thing from that, but it still made me feel pretty resourceful.

Sometimes, we have to anticipate the unexpected and do something about it before the need arises. Take vitamins before you get sick. Eat sensibly while your favorite pants still fit. Save money when you have a little more than you need (does that EVER happen?) Check the air in that spare tire every now and then. And the next time you go to the store for a bottle of shampoo, pick up two.

In the movie “Road House” Patrick Swayze responded to a question about drunken bar patrons by saying, “People who go out looking for trouble usually aren’t a problem for somebody who’s ready.” Some of life’s greatest challenges are little more than an inconvenience if they don’t catch you completely unprepared. You may not expect them at that very moment, but at least you’re ready.

This isn’t to say you should go through life waiting for the sky to fall in. Enjoy each moment and make the most of it. A spare tire won’t keep you from any particular destination. But if something happens along the way, it’s nice to know the trip isn’t over. The Boy Scout motto is “be prepared.” Think ahead and you may never have to look behind. A challenge is only a problem if you’re not ready for it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved