If you "own" anything at all, in this world, then you know that at some point, that thing will need replacement or repair. It should come as no surprise. Everything wears out, eventually.
Our overall budget reflects this basic fact about earthly belongings. We know that things wear out and need fixing or replacing. Three years ago, we began saving for a new water heater. Just after Thanksgiving, this year, our water heater sprung a leak, all over the garage floor. It hadn't been functioning properly, anyway, for the past 2 years. So this was, indeed, no surprise. (That water heater was 20 years old.)
And then in another area, our mechanic informed us that our tires were worn out, at the legal limit for tread depth. We save for car repairs and replacement every year. It's built in to our budget. Cars are work horses for many of us. And with all of the service they give us, nearly every single day of the year, they do need maintenance, as well as repair, on a very regular basis. Brand new tires went onto our one working car last week.
A new water heater and set of tires aren't cheap. While we had the money in savings, this did consume a big chunk of our readily available "cushion". And coming right at the holiday period, the comfortable and prudent thing to do was to curtail gift spending, as much as possible.
Receiving tires and a water heater for your main Christmas gift sounds depressing, doesn't it? But it doesn't need to be. How we see our world can be narrow and defeating, or it can be freeing and up-lifting.
I choose to see receiving tires and a water heater for Christmas, in a positive light.
The new tires are my and my family's safety on the road. Did you know that once a tire reaches the legal tread depth limit that it takes 2 extra car lengths, (at speed of 50 MPH) to come to a stop, in wet weather, compared to a tread depth at double that legal limit? [http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/12/how-safe-are-worn-tires/index.htm; https://www.kwik-fit.com/tyres/information/uk-tyre-law]
Here in Seattle, it's no surprise that I drive on a lot of wet and slick roads. I had to make a long drive on New Year's Eve, in the dark, in active snowfall, in a small sedan, without 4-wheel drive. There were SUV's and trucks whizzing past me, making my visibility even poorer. But I had my new tires. Chances of a blow-out or a spin-out were greatly reduced, because of these new tires.
And do you know what else? The guy who put the new tires on my car, also cleaned my hubcaps! You know how dirty hubcaps can get, right? I now have clean hubcaps and new tires. Plus, I got a free calendar, a cup of coffee and popcorn for my daughters. Our safety and all of these extras were my Christmas gift this year.
Our old water heater wasn't putting out much hot water for the past one to two years. Every morning was a gamble as to whether or not my bath would be warm enough or so cool that I barely dipped myself into the water before shiveringly hopping out to towel off. There was never enough hot water for the whole family, so if hot water was important to each of us, we all allowed intervals to lapse in between each shower, bath or load of laundry.
With receiving a new water heater as a primary Christmas gift, what I really got was a reliably hot bath or shower, every single time. Every. single.time. my bath is just how I like it. I can luxuriate in hot water all morning long, if I want. Or at least not have any more chilly bath times. And the dishes are coming out cleaner from the dishwasher. There is less scraping and wiping, as the clean dishes are removed from the dishwasher. The other thing, our hot water is cleaner, too. No more sediment, no more flaking bits from the deteriorating dip tube. I no longer have to clean the kitchen faucet aerator screen, which had to be done a couple of times per month, to keep the wacky spray at bay.
It's all in how you look at things. Safe tires, hot water and no leaks can be viewed as awfully nice Christmas gifts, don't you think?