When To Save, When To Spend

by Randy Murray on April 10, 2013

A big part of playing The Spend Nothing Game is knowing when to actually spend money. If you own a home you’ll learn over time when you can avoid spending money and when you absolutely should spend it.

I experience one of those “glad I spent the money” situations the other day. We got up on a typical winter Saturday morning and I immediately noticed that it was cold in the house. A quick glance at the thermostat showed me that it was 63 degrees in the house. I fiddled with the controls to no result, then checked the furnace in the basement. The fan/blower was running, but everything was cold.

So I called our HVAC company. We pay them twenty dollars a month, two hundred and forty dollars a year, just for these types of situations. In less than two hours a technician arrived, fixed the problem, shook my hand, and walked away. Soon we were warm and unworried about the lack of heating on a cold Ohio winter day.

If I had not spent money on the service contract I would have spent a great deal more than $240 fixing the problem AND I might have had to wait until a weekday for a service call (or paid more for expedited service). HVAC systems are expensive and finicky. There are lots of moving parts, strange connections, and multiple points of failure. Even our system, a relatively high-end model just eight years old, has at least one problem a year that requires attention. In addition, they come out once in the fall and once in the spring to check the system and service it for the coming season.

I don’t like shelling out twenty bucks a month, except on times like these when I’m giddy with relief that I did.

This is how I determine when to spend and when to not spend. I look at the things in my life that are vitally important, expensive, and that have multiple failure points. If I can get by when that thing fails or breaks, it’s not that important. Important things keep me alive or in business, or they cost me dearly when I don’t have them. My furnace, the roof, my car, my computer equipment, among others, are the things that I spend money on to insure that they are always in service or can be quickly repaired at someone else’s expense.

My HVAC company and I essentially have a little bet going. They’re betting that nothing will go wrong with my system and I’m betting something big will break. They get a steady stream of revenue and I get peace of mind and a way of limiting what I’ll spend. By signing the agreement I end up paying $240 a year, but know that I won’t spend any more. For me, that’s a bet that I’ll take every day.

Limiting what I spend. That’s another way of playing and winning The Spend Nothing Game.

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