Making sure to carry back-ups upfront

What to do? I was home alone the other day and heard a strange noise coming from the basement. Before your imagination launches into wild speculation, let me assure your my mind did not leap directly to thoughts of wild animals, boogey men, stray vampires from the new genre of novels, or the ever-popular zombies that populate Televisionland today. Rather, my mind instantly identified the sound as coming straight from that classic homeowner horror movie, The Money Pit.

Of all monsters and gremlins, I find the mechanical, electrical, wooden and glass ones to be the scariest. So I grabbed a flashlight and my checkbook to investigate. Even though the checkbook contained no real money to throw at the problem, I figured I might at least have the satisfaction of slapping the furnace with its seven-by-three-inch leather cover or forming its pages into a cross to ward off further evil household expenses.

Apparently, no one told my furnace, car, creditors or children there is neither blood nor cash left in this turnip. They continue to demand tribute at alarming rates, whether or not paycheck and payment are available.

My car hit me up for a set of new tires and multiple repairs this past quarter year. My daughter lost her new lunchbox and one shoe from a good pair. My son temporarily lost his heavy winter coat, nearly causing me the added expense of a heart attack. He also needed a new pair of glasses. Both had dental cavities that needed filling. I stuck with losing only my mind because it was more economical. Then the furnace rattled my cage.

As I listened more closely (above and beyond the “cah-ching” of my mental cash register), something familiar registered: It was the wobbly sound of a loose belt. A belt that retails for a mere $5.29 at Tractor Supply Co. A belt for which I had back-up, having purchased an extra one ahead the last time this happened. Woo hoo!

My neighbor helped me replace it and rejoiced with me at my good fortune. We had mechanically cheated the Grim Reaper’s accountant accomplice. Within 10 minutes (it would have been only five had I not dropped a small screw among some firewood scraps), we had the blower back in working order. Case closed without ever opening the checkbook. My kind of solution.

I’m convinced the reason the belt held up as long as it had was that I left the replacement belt hanging up on the basement wall, where the furnace could see it out of the corner of its eye. Like a scarecrow, the presence of a replacement part serves to keep evil household expense spirits from swooping down and landing. When you are prepared, disaster is more hesitant to strike.

Within a couple of days, I picked up a back-up belt for the next time I know will surely come, later rather than sooner, since I am re-prepared.

This brings me to one of life’s many interesting questions: How much back-up is necessary? With regularly used products, it’s good to have something in reserve: Extra soap, laundry detergent, light bulbs, and, of course, extra toilet paper. I also try to make sure I have one back-up item of daily grooming essentials such as shampoo, bubble bath, deodorant and toothpaste. My system is to write things on the grocery list at the time I open my back-up product.

In the kitchen, I shop to ensure I don’t run out of bread, milk, eggs, butter, coffee and tea bags. One level deeper, I always make certain I have rice and pasta on the pantry shelf, as well as canned soup, beans and fruit. Beyond the staples is when things start getting dicier than a can of pineapple tidbits.

It’s easy to accrue more than items than what you need, particularly when you encounter a great deal on some product. But the savings is negated when the products remain unused at their expiration dates. So I moved my new furnace belt back from the furnace heat so its elasticity won’t prematurely expire. I’m going to try not to get too far ahead of myself in other areas, too, as not to lose my personal elasticity.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sheldon Phillips
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 16:00:46

    do you actually see my comments?


  2. Sheldon Phillips
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 16:07:22

    apparently you do, for some reason, I thought my past comments just dissipated into the approval queue


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