We often hear the term "save for a rainy day, " indicating that at some point there may be a financial emergency and we need to be prepared. Well, there is a difference between saving for emergencies and budgeting for maintenance. An emergency is an unexpected occurrence that requires immediate attention. Things like injuries, accidents, sudden death, etc. of which we have no control. However, routine car maintenance does not qualify as an emergency. Why? Because we knew when we bought the car that it would need regular maintenance such as getting the oil changed, replacing tires, belts and hoses, 100,000 mile service, etc. Let's not forget the dreaded "check engine" light! We can only hope that it's just a sensor, but then again it might not be. Nonetheless, while some maintenance is minor, others require major services and repairs that have the potential of sending us further into debt if we aren't prepared. When we don't have the cash available for major repairs, we either put it on a credit card or put off the service for as long as we can. Both decisions could end up costing us a lot more in the end.
While you're working out your monthly budget, make sure that you are setting aside at least $20 to $50 per month for car maintenance. That extra $240 - $600 per year creates a safety net between living free and living in bondage. If you drive a car with more expensive repairs, perhaps you'll need to set aside more. We know that we have to have our cars inspected the same month every year. The slightest malfunction in wiper blades, any type of lighting, signals, tires, breaks, etc., could be the difference between receiving a pass or fail. Are you prepared to pay cash for new tires or breaks? If your car is close to reaching 75,000 or 100,000 miles, how are you going to fund the major services and parts replacements?
Car maintenance isn't an emergency, it comes with the purchase. Unfortunately, for so many of us, it has become an emergency expense because we haven't been prepared to cover the costs in cash. Preparation is key when it comes to getting out and staying out of debt. It's about expecting the expected by planning ahead. Bottom line, your car will need to be serviced come rain or shine. Will you be ready? Your freedom depends on it!
Change requires action!