Time for new tires — or why I’m glad we have an emergency fund

by Karen on March 25, 2009

new-tires
photo by kalebdf

Last week Tony took the car in for an oil change and brake check. I wasn’t expecting the news he gave me when he came home. One of our tires had a bubble and needed to be replaced immediately. The other three were on their last legs and needed to be replaced as well.

Our car only has about 20,000 miles, so we weren’t expecting this for some time. There was a time when a surprise like this would lead to panic and, most likely, debt. I didn’t have $200-$500 available for new tires at any given time, so I would have charged it on a credit card (unless my cards were maxed out).

This time it was a surprise, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t prepared.

Every month, we save $25 for car expenses. We’d accumulated about $90 in that account since using it to pay for maintenance before driving to Indiana in December.

The $90 would help, but it wasn’t enough. If we replaced all four tires, it would cost about $450.

I wanted to be sure that it was necessary, though. After all, the tires only had 20,000 miles on them. We knew we needed to replace the damaged tire, but I wanted to make sure the other three really needed to be replaced before taking money out of our emergency fund. We did the penny test and discovered that the back two tires were still okay.

We decided to replace the front two tires. We’ll monitor the tread and condition of the two back tires to make sure they’re still safe, and try to save up the money to replace them within the next few months.

We called for quotes at three different places — AAA, Wal-Mart, and Firestone. Firestone was the cheapest by about $100. The total for two new tires at Firestone was $215 with installation and other fees. Because we save additional money for car expenses, we only had to use $125 from our emergency fund. No big deal.

This is the first time I’ve had to tap the emergency fund, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that we have it. Before our emergency fund, I lived in constant fear that something like this would happen (and it always did). Our emergency fund made a normally stressful situation much easier.

I also learned that we’ve been too lax about tire safety. Just last weekend I drove over 100 miles on those tires — and one of them probably already had a bubble. I’m so thankful that I didn’t blow a tire going 70 miles per hour on the highway. Yikes.

From now on, we’ll keep a closer watch on our tire pressure and tread and check for tire problems, especially before long drives.

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{ 2 comments }

1 Angie Jacobs March 25, 2009 at 7:44 pm

That is so awesome that you were able to pay for the tires and not have to charge them. WAY TO GO!! Last year my hubby told me that I was going to need new tires on my truck so I asked him how much. The total cost was going to be around $800, so I started putting away $40 a week, and by the time that I actually needed them I had the money saved. Was I glad. Of course he does not worry about these things, he always says that it will work out. LOL We own our own semi so I am use to a big tire bill, luckily where we go, they take payments and I usually have a $3000 tire bill paid off in 3-4 months and they are o.k. with that. Sometime I would like to actually have the money up front, but I would probably shock the guys if that happened. Great Job, I love to read your blog. Angie

2 Kelly March 27, 2009 at 7:37 pm

I have a seperate emergency checking account and it is a budget lifesaver. I fund it every payperiod because something always happens. Tires, appliances, plumber, once is was a funeral of a loved one. But we have the money to do, fix or go when we need to and it doesn’t effect our regural finances. The emergency is stressful enough without having to figure out how to pay for it.

Kelly’s last blog post..Freezer & Pantry Inventory

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