The other day the tire pressure warning light came on when I was driving to work. After checking pressure in each tire and filled them up, I thought that would be the end of it. A few days later, the light came on again while I was driving to work.

Oh no, does this mean a slow leak in one of the tires?

When I got to work, I checked the pressure and found out that one of the tires was much lower than a few days prior. I knew I had to go into a shop to get it checked. After a few meetings at work, I drove to Kal Tire to see if they could repair the tire.


The Unexpected Expense

The technician did a quick check and confirmed that there was indeed a hole in the tire caused by a small nail.

Unfortunately, the location of the hole was on the sidewall, so the tire was not repairable.

The ~1 year old tire was no good. I had to replace it.

I was not happy when I received the news. Because it meant spending money to place the tire.

Then the Kal Tire technician explained I couldn’t just replace one tire. I had to replace 2 tires minimum to make sure the car would stay balanced. He also asked if we drove in mountain areas in the winter time. He then went on saying if we didn’t have tires with the snowflake symbol, technically we wouldn’t be insured by ICBC if we had an accident while driving in mountain areas during winter. Therefore, he recommended getting all-weather tires.

This meant replacing all four tires.

So my options were either getting 2 new 3-season tires, or getting 4 new all-weather tires.

Whichever my decision was, this was a rather large unexpected expense.

Given that we had a couple of unexpected expenses in 2017 already, I was not happy to see yet another unexpected expense.

Then it hit me…


Terrible News

Earlier that day I found out some terrible, heart breaking news.

A co-worker’s wife passed away after battling cancer for 10 months.

Another co-worker’s mother-in-law had a serious stroke. After spending a day in coma, the doctors were taking away her life support.

Death vs. unexpected expense…

At that moment, reflecting on the news, the unexpected expense seemed so insignificant compared to a life or death situation.

Was it more important making sure that our monthly budget came out balanced, or staying alive?

So what if I had to buy 2 new 3-season tires that would cost me $500?

So what if I had to buy 4 new all-weather tires that would cost me $900?

Hearing these terrible news earlier in the day forced me to have a different perspective when I was standing at Kal Tire.

Was it smart to spend $900 for all-weather tires that would provide better traction all year, or go with 2 new tires and having to worry about my family’s safety during winter time?

The decision was an easy one.


Looking money from a different perspective

A while ago I asked a rhetorical question – What happens if we do not have a past? Imagine who you are right now at this very moment. Imagine that you still have all the knowledge that you have accumulated in your lifetime so far but without having any past experience, past judgments, past belief system, and past limitations. What would you do differently tomorrow?

None of your decision or belief system will be based on your past experience.

You will base all your decisions on your current belief system.

You will be living as if you are a new person without any past.

Given this new opportunity, what would you do about your personal finance? What would you do with your retirement planning or financial independence journey?

Does this fresh and new outlook greatly change how you view your future?

There is no doubt that your past has great influence to your personal finance, retirement planning, and financial independence journey.

I also wrote about why I practice being financially independence despite not FI yet on the rationale that I think it’s very important to practice this lifestyle that we are trying to achieve.

Here’s another rhetorical question… what if you know when you will die?

How would this affect how you experience your life and how you treat your finance?

What if we look at money from a different perspective?


What if you know when you will die?

What is you know that you will die exactly 100 days from today?

What if you know that you will die exactly 2 years from today?

What if you know that you will die on your 67th birthday?

What if you know that you will die in 2060 at precise 4:43 PM?

There are a lot of uncertainties in life but death isn’t one of them. We all know that we will die at one point. But even with death, there’s uncertainty, because we have no idea when we will die (let’s exclude suicide here).

Imagine that you know precisely when you will die. Would you change your daily routine and how you view your life?

My guess is that you will.

You probably would prioritize what you deem important in your life. First thing you would do is probably cutting back on your 9-5 job, or even quitting your job. You probably would spend more time with your family and friend. Many would probably come up with a bucket list and try to complete it. 

For example, what if I know I would die 15 years and 5 days from today? Would I do anything differently than what I am doing today?

  • I would quit my work
  • I would go traveling and live at places for extended period of time
  • I would spend more time with my parents and brother
  • I would record videos on parental advises for my kids so they can watch when they are older
  • I would continue live life without any regrets
  • I would do more charity work and donate money to charities
  • And many many more…

Essentially I would do a lot of the things I plan to do once we are financially independent but at a faster timeline.

Isn’t it funny that when we are faced with death, we re-prioritize our life? Rather than worrying when we will die and such, I believe we all need to focus on making today the best day of our life.


Today is the best day of my life

Forget about what happened in the past because you can’t change them. Stop worry about what will happen tomorrow because if you can’t control these things, why waste time worrying about them? Focus on this very moment and how you can make the best of the present moment

Time is too precious

Say this to yourself everyday, best if you can look at yourself in the eyes in front of a mirror.

Today is the best day of my life.

Learn to say this to yourself everyday and believe in it.

Because today is indeed the best day of your life. You have all the power to make things happen.

Stop regretting the past.

Stop worrying about the future.

Start focusing on the now.

So what if you are faced with an unexpected expense today.

In the grant scheme of things, if will not matter.

Perhaps it means you will need to use your opportunity/emergency fund.

Perhaps it means you will need to cut back on some expenses later.

Perhaps it means you will be in debt for a few months.

But you are still alive.

You are not laying in a grave.

Today is indeed the best day of your life. Make it happen. Make it so.

Enjoy your life.

Find the right balance between spending and saving for yourself. Because this balance is different for me, and different for you, and different for your best friend.


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25 thoughts on “Tires…Spending…Death…Happiness”

  1. I recently changed my car to a hybrid and got a huge “savings” with respect to gas usage (from ~$1700-2800/year to a projected $700-800/year). Unfortunately the car runs on energy saver tires which are mostly fine even in the rain. Unfortunately I quickly discovered they were a total liability in the snow. So I immediately swapped them out for winter tires. There goes my gas savings for the year ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. I simply love this kind of posts because it resonates a lot with me and what I’m doing right now. I went through many of these questions and the answers were the why we decided to leave for a one-year RV trip. I quit my job, took out some invested money, left almost all behind and quit with my family. We wanted to live that life while we have it.

    And you know what? Since I left, I’ve realised that nothing really is more important than that. When it comes to doing something you’d like to but afraid of, it’s always worth it, unless it implies dying! It might seem extreme, but it truly is. It is possible to live with no regrets. It is possible to live your dreams. It is possible to quit your job and live with less money and one would soon realise it’s far from being the end of the world.

    Life has so much to offer. We only have to take it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.



  3. I’ve blogged about it before, but I’ll say it again: all we have is now. And I get really nervous for people who put all their happiness in something that is 5, 10, or 15 years out. I could probably get a higher paying job, but I love what I do. And if I keep me focus on the here and now, it actually probably makes more sense. It’s all a balance (now versus goals, long run versus short term), right? Great post!

    • Thanks Penny. FIRE is a great goal but it shouldn’t be the end destination for you to become happy. Finding a balance is important. What’s the right balance? That’s completely personal. That’s why it’s called personal finance. 🙂

  4. Unexpected expenses suck, but it’s nice to be able to cover them and not worry about which bill isn’t going to get paid this month. I shuddered just writing that remembering childhood, lol. I read another blogger who’d gone dark for a while explaining he’d been dealing with thyroid cancer and one of his pills cost $3-$4k – per pill.

    While expensive, if he didn’t get them he for sure wouldn’t be around to see FIRE or enjoy it, and on the other hand, he did have the money to cover it, but he was amused at the irony of the situation.

    It’s all about persepctive.If I was diagnosed as terminal and had only X months to live, a lot of my spending inhibitions would go out the window. Not on buying things like boats or posessions, but restaurants, travel, concerts, and experience based things would have priority, as long as I’m enjoying them with the family. They definitely wouldn’t seem so prohibitive or costly anymore.

    • Good point. When it’s life vs. death situation, the expenses seem to go out of question. It’s really all about perspective. I think when you’re faced with terminal disease you probably want to get as much experience as you can before you run out of time.

  5. I like how you put the expense into perspective–it is disappointing to be hit with an unexpected expense, but it is fairly minor in the grand scheme of things. The all-weather tires sound like a better idea than using all-season tires, and will likely be worth the money to keep your family safer and provide increased peace-of-mind. However it does look like the salesperson was misinformed about your insurance being void without winter tires:

    • Thanks for pointing this out. But looks like not having proper tires can affect whether you’re at fault or not.

      However, if you get in a crash where winter tires could have helped, not having them may affect whether—or how much—you are at fault.

  6. Love this post, Bob! (also love that you’re using your name on here now!)

    I go through these “woe is me” moments pretty much every time we have a $400+ van repair (which is more often than I’d like). But you’re exactly right — in the grand scheme of things, they don’t matter. Not at all. Always good to be reminded of that.

  7. Which tire went out and how usd up are the other tires? You can mitigate a lot of the risk of only replacing one tire (provided its early on) by placing that tire on the non driving wheels and rotating it less. I wouldn’t do it after half the tires life but I’ve done that for regular tires that took a nail. I’m also suprised that your insurance requires snow tires, but I guess that’s a Canada thing. My carrier could care less, though I get snow tires for me. I prefer the safety in that case but it’s ultimately my decision. Your right, safety is more valuable then the extra dollar or two. If it weren’t I’d go to the local thrifty tire. In case you didn’t know there is a market for used tires for those less well off. I draw the line there.

    • It was the front tire so wouldn’t really work. It took the tech at Kal Tire a while before he provided the recommendation. He tried finding just one tire that’d work so I wouldn’t need to replace all 4.

      Now I am married and have kids, safety is a higher priority for me. Spending that extra money to have proper tires for winter driving and have peace of mind is more important than the money. Can always earn some extra money to cover the tires through side hustle.

  8. Great post Bob! I especially like the line “Today is the best day of my life”. Powerful stuff!

    I often think about if I only had one year left to live … what would I do? Probably many of the same things I do today…but I’d probably go somewhere a little warmer. 😉

    Thinking about that, I realize I live a pretty great life. Being FI means I’m already living *a lot* of the best life I can without constraints.

    • It’s a powerful statement isn’t it? I remind myself to say that every day (and in front of the mirror when I can).

      Moving somewhere a little warmer sounds like a good idea. Vancouver is currently frozen solid under a layer of snow. Brrr cold. 🙂

      Being FI does mean you get to enjoy your life to the fullest IMO. This is why I’m striving to achieve FI.

  9. Yeap, it depends on your perspective. Still sucks to pay for 2 new tires, though. You could get a 2 new all weather tires and then get a set of snow tire later. I’m sure they’ll swap them for you for free (?).
    I love my life right now, but I would go nuts with spending if I know when I’d die. It’d be like pulling out all inhibition. I prefer not to know and just live my life.

    • Hi Joe,

      2 new all weather tires wouldn’t really work since it becomes problematic when you have to rotate them (2 all-weather + 2 all-season). I’ll give these all-weather tires a go and see what happens. Having peace of mind is important…. it’s always bugging me having to drive on snowy roads with all-season tires and having to chance it. Haven’t had any close calls but it’s always a bit scary driving around with unfit tires.

      Just live your life is a great mantra but definitely make sure you live to the fullest every day.

  10. Amen to that. Finding the right balance is key. Living according to your values now and still taking care of your future self… Not easy. We try it as well and made some changes to our life and work. It values now correct.

  11. Good post Tawcan. Regarding your question “What if you know when you will die?”, we should all be so lucky! If you knew the precise date X years from now, your Safe Withdrawal Rate calculations will be precise to the last dollar! It’s the uncertainty of longevity that makes most early retirees ultra conservative in spending. Death is life’s inevitability and its greatest mystery. While the end is known, the duration or method remains unknown. We plan for life anyway because that’s what makes man eternally optimistic. Enjoy your life is the right mantra indeed.

    • Hi Ten Factorial Rocks,

      Haha that’s an interesting way of thinking. Knowing when you will die will allow you to do precise withdrawal rule indeed. You can also buy life insurance and make sure you get the dollar amount… although that might be considered cheating the system. 🙂

  12. Great post. I love how you put things in perspective. A healthy, safe life > $900 you’d spend on high-end good quality tires.

    I wouldn’t want to know exactly when I’ll die. I think it’d be too traumatic.


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