Today’s post is part of the “Family Financial Guidelines” series. Whether you’re going through a financial turnaround or are just wanting to stay on top of things, this series will give you the tools to get and keep your family’s finances on track.
The past few posts have been about controlling expenses, which is a major part of having healthy family finances. Today we’re going to talk about how to further control expenses by taking care of what you have.
Don’t Ignore Maintenance and Upkeep
Quite often when people are struggling to make ends meet, one thing that gets cut or postponed is maintenance. This can take place in a variety of ways, and all of them usually end up costing you more in the long run.
Probably the most commonly neglected maintenance is your vehicle. Maybe you put off getting the oil changed, getting new tires, replacing filters, or waiting a week or two once the ‘Check Engine’ light comes on to have it looked at. The problem with putting off these things is that you often end up paying more down the road than you would have paid if you took care of them right away. For example, you notice the tread on your tires is really low but decide to put off replacing them. Then you forget about it, and there comes a time when you’re driving in a heavy rain and aren’t able to stop in time when the car in front of you slows down to make a turn. Suddenly, you’re in an accident and have a large insurance deductible to pay plus higher insurance rates in the future. Or maybe you put off getting your oil changed for so long that your engine seizes up, and all of a sudden you have a monster repair bill. The best way to reduce the overall maintenance costs of your vehicle is to follow the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual and plan for these costs in your monthly budget in advance, and then have your local mechanic perform the maintenance (mechanics like Auto Super Shoppes offer scheduled maintenance).
Another commonly neglected maintenance category is your house. A common rule of thumb is that you can expect to pay roughly 1% of your home’s value every year in maintenance. If you’ve ever seen how quickly an abandoned house deteriorates, you’ve seen firsthand the importance of maintaining your home. I know home maintenance can be an expensive undertaking. We have some paint work that needs done on our rear dormer window that’s going to cost close to $400. We could put it off and not have it done. But what happens is that over time, without the paint work, the actual boards will become damaged and need replaced. So, we can either pay $400 now for the paint job or pay a much larger amount in the future for the paint job plus replacing the boards.
And it’s not just the house itself that needs taken care of, either. Your house is full of things that need taken care of. Your heating and air conditioning systems periodically need serviced. Your refrigerator periodically needs to be pulled out and cleaned. Windows periodically need to be re-caulked, as do showers and bathtubs. Furnace filters need to be replaced, rain gutters need to be cleaned, and shrubs and bushes need to be trimmed back away from the house. This is by no means a complete list. But the commonality with all these things is that you will end up spending less money on your house if you keep up on all these maintenance items.
The Bottom Line
There are many other things that periodically need taken care of as well (lawn mowers, bicycles, etc.) , but you get the idea. If you take care of your things, they last longer. And the longer your things last, the less money you end up spending over the life of the item.
What are some other common maintenance and upkeep items that are important to stay on top of? If you have any to add to the list, please share in the comments…