There is no question about it, I am cheap and I cut financial corners whenever I can. As I have grown older, I have made several “cheap mistakes” that have cost me valuable time.
As the father in a family of 5 on a single income, I take great pride in the income and financial stability I bring to my family. My love language for my family is to provide them with a secure environment that is comfortable and stable. This is one of the main reasons I am chasing financial independence, in order to guarantee my family’s financial future and security.
The Length Of My Cheap/Frugal Lifestyle
I have always been quite frugal when it comes to paying for things I can do myself. I have a hard time paying someone a ridiculous amount of money in labor fees when it’s something I could learn to do from YouTube. With that being said, let’s go over some of the recent things I have done to save money.
When I bought my current house, it came with front landscaping but the back was only dirt. I shopped around to see how much it would cost to have someone come in and put in rock and grass. I found the labor costs were astronomical compared to what I could purchase the materials for. With that being said, I did hire a company to come out and pour curbing for my grass area because I didn’t know how to pour a curb.
After the curb was installed, I contacted my good friend Dave and we decided to learn how to put in a sprinkler system. I rented a trencher and managed to avoid cutting off my feet. We sketched out where we thought the sprinkler system should go and how to do it. We put the PVC pipe in and the zones and actually managed to get it to work on a timer. Next, I ordered the sod and Dave and I put that in as well. The whole project took about 2 weeks to complete.
Next was the rock. I ordered several tons of rock that was dumped in the street. After hundreds of wheelbarrow trips from the front yard to the back, I finally had all the rock put in my backyard – with another week or so of my labor. I also poured a slab of concrete with my uncle and cousin’s help. Needless to say – 8 years later my backyard looks, “OK” but I still haven’t gotten around to everything.
How much did I save by doing everything myself? Probably around $2,000
As you may know, I have older vehicles which require more repairs than a new vehicle would. I’m OK with this because I’m saving a tremendous amount of money by only paying for periodic repairs rather than a vehicle loan. With that being said, a couple of years ago I needed to replace the timing belt and water pump on my Toyota Sequoia. I received a quote from the dealer that was $1,200! The water pump and belt themselves cost less than $300. Needless to say, I didn’t want to pay $900 in labor for something that was so cheap.
Fast forward a few months and my friend Matt convinced me we could do the work ourselves in his garage with the help of YouTube and a Chilton’s manual. Little did I know that it required us to take apart about half the engine and a full 3 days of labor for us to complete the project. While we were in there, we replaced the spark plugs, multiple hoses, and gaskets.
How much did I save on the project? Around $800.00
Recently I received a letter from my HOA stating that I needed to repaint my house because the paint was fading. Again I went out to get a quote, although I’m unsure why I ever get a quote. I never hire anyone – maybe it’s just to see how much I will save when I inevitably end up doing the work myself. Well, they were going to charge me $2,200 to paint my house. I found I could purchase all the paint and rollers for around $500.00.
You read that right, I decided it would be a good idea to paint my entire 2100 square foot home by hand, with a roller. 3 -4 full days later, with the help of my dad, the project was complete.
How much did I save? Around $1,700.
Was It Worth It?
There are numerous other projects I have done around the house, including digging a 70-foot ditch for a gas line, by hand – with a pickaxe, that I could go on and on about. When I think back on all these projects, I spent an enormous amount of time completing projects that a professional could have done in half the time – if not less. The only benefit I gained from doing all of this myself is the amount of knowledge I gained by doing the projects.
I can honestly say I would never do any of these projects again. I would happily pay someone else to do it because it was not worth my time. My time is much more valuable than money – especially when I had the money to complete these projects. I was just being cheap.
There is a big difference between being cheap and being frugal. I boarder on the cheap line more than I should which has cost me a large amount of time.
The True Cost Of Being Cheap
The amount of time I spent doing these projects was time off of work and time that I spent away from my family. In the end, in my opinion, it was not worth it. As you progress through this financial journey, think about your choices in regards to time. I usually make poor choices and default towards being cheap which has cost me valuable time with my young children. Looking back at it now, I should have paid cash for someone else to do some of these projects and spent my time completing smaller, less daunting and time-consuming projects.
Granted, if I was able to manage my choices better, tackling one of these projects would not be a big deal but I have an issue with spending money. Sometimes it is OK to spend money! This article is as much for me as it is for you.
My time is much more valuable than I give it credit, and so is yours.
When you or I make a decision to save money at the expense of a large amount of time, we are valuing money more than time. This is a struggle for me which can be as dangerous as an overspending problem.
The Need For A Healthy Balance
We all have our tendencies. You may be the spender or you may be the saver. Either way, make sure you maintain a healthy balance. For you savers – like me – it’s absolutely OK to spend money sometimes. Stop being so stinking cheap and put more value into your time. For you over spenders, stop spending so much! That spending will turn into a need to work more, which will cut into your available time. In the end, you won’t only be broke, but you also won’t have any free time.
During next month’s budget, set aside some time and maybe a little bit of money for some family time. Don’t overdo it, but let’s start putting more value into the time we have been given.
Are you as cheap as me? Comment below, I’d love to hear some of the crazy projects you have taken on in order to save a couple of bucks! Also, if you haven’t done it yet – enter your email below and subscribe to my blog! I promise I won’t spam you with junk email, it will just keep you updated on my recent posts. We are all in this financial journey together my friends – keep it up! You work too hard to be this broke!