Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Two Reasons Why I Love Living With A Budget

In the past two weeks, I've had to have new spark plugs installed in my car and my wife decided we needed to get a couple oriental rugs cleaned before the holidays roll around. In short, two major expenses hit us within two weeks of each other.

Spark Plugs Ain't Easy To Find Anymore

I thought about changing the spark plugs myself. Remember when you could open the hood of your car and see something like this:

They don't make them like this anymore
Those spark plugs would sit right on top of the engine block, easily accessible at the end of those blue cables. Boy, things sure have changed! While investigating how to change the spark plugs on my car, I found this video and saw exactly how much of the engine compartment I'd have to take apart to do it today. That's waaaaaay outside my comfort zone. Additionally, I don't even have all the tools needed to do the job. So off to the dealer I went for this work. Total cost - about $300. (Reason #2,343,241 to get a Tesla - no spark plugs!)

Rugs Aren't Cheap Either

Getting the rugs cleaned was actually even pricier. I have a home warranty and the policy covers carpet cleaning. Unfortunately, it only covers wall to wall carpeting, not area rugs. However, they gave me the name of the contractor they use and I called them for a quote.

One rug measures 8 feet by 11 feet and the other is 6 feet by 9 feet. The difference in prices between the two were substantial: $240 for the big one ($2.72/square foot) and $162 for the smaller ($3.00/square foot).

(At this point, I briefly considered just renting a carpet cleaning unit and cleaning them myself, but given that one of the rugs cost over $2,000, I opted to stick with professionals for cleaning.)

When talking to the contractor, he told me that his company actually does the area rug cleaning for most of the other rug cleaners in the vicinity. I just chalked this up to a sales pitch, but I called another company for a quote and was given exactly the same prices, so maybe he was telling me the truth. The second company also charged extra to come to my house to pick up the rugs. The first company included that in their price.

Because I don't like to leave money on the table, I called the first contractor back and asked if, because I was referred to them from my home warranty company, they could give me some sort of discount. I figured it was a long shot, but it never hurts to ask. To my surprise, the guy said yes and gave me a quote of $350 for both rugs, a $52 discount. He said he'd like to give me a bigger discount, but since the plant where they clean the rugs is in Tucson, about a 1.5 hour drive south of me, he couldn't really go any lower. I agreed to the price and they were able to get a truck out that day to pick them up.

Budgets Save The Day And My Piece Of Mind

So in a span of two weeks, I had to lay out $650 for expenses - and right before the big holiday shopping season starts. In the pre-budget days, that would have thrown my finances into a tailspin for at least two months, probably longer.

In these days of budgeted living, I didn't blink an eye. Two line items in my budget are Car Maintenance and Home Maintenance. I had money in both of those accounts to cover these bills. No stress. No pain. I charged both items to my credit card to earn the cash back reward (effectively giving myself another 1% discount) and transferred the money from my bank account to the credit card to pay for them before I accrued any interest charges. Easy peasy.

This, more than anything else, proves to me the value of budgeting! Have any of you had a similar experience?

1 comment:

  1. You have some solid advice here. I'm going to have to come back here for reference. I agree that it's always important to find out what “extras” contractors charge for, like transportation expenses. It never hurts to negotiate, either. I've found that most contractors leave some room for haggling when determining their prices.