Spend a Little Now to Save a Lot Later

Few people are content with spending money on things that don’t add value to our lives. We would much rather buy something fun or exciting, or maybe we live paycheck to paycheck and it’s hard to just put food on the table. Whatever the reason might be, we tend to want to procrastinate spending money on some very important things because it doesn’t seem like we can afford it right now or we have other priorities. There are times, however, when this approach ends up costing us more money in the long run.

One example of this is vehicle maintenance. No one likes having to fork over north of a hundred bucks on getting something as basic as an oil change because it’s a significant sum for most people that doesn’t really do anything that directly makes us feel like that money went to something meaningful. It’s just a regular expense that comes with owning a car, and we resent that we have to pay it. The problem is that when we don’t, we run the risk of something even more expensive becoming a problem as a result of our lax attitude toward keeping up with regular maintenance.

An important person in my life is going through this right now. She tends to procrastinate on taking care of her car, and in all likelihood that is the cause of the current situation in which she finds herself. The details don’t really matter, except to note that the issue likely would have been identified during the most recent service, had she taken the vehicle to get it done. One look at the battery would have indicated a fairly serious problem. If the hood never gets opened, it’s hard to notice any issues.

At any rate, the car broke down and had to be towed home at a cost of more than $150, and then she’ll have to pay a mechanic to diagnose the problem and get it fixed, and there is no telling how much that might be. And then, of course, it will need an oil change on top of all of that anyway, which always had to be paid anyway. It’s quite shocking just how quickly the charges can start stacking up when you’re dealing with something as complicated as a vehicle.

I can’t really chastise her about it, though, because I’m not much better. My car has been having transmission issues for quite a while now, and I haven’t taken it in to get it looked at. The suspension for my car is also really old and probably needs replaced, and it likely needs an alignment. All of these things are relatively small expenses that, had I taken care of them when they were single issues, would have been relatively affordable. My lame excuse has been that I can’t really afford to have my car at the dealership for several days, but we all know that’s not really a justifiable reason. I just don’t want to spend the money.

At the bare minimum, I do always remember to be sure and do my regular maintenance, partly to keep the car running at an acceptable level, but also partly because I know the people performing the service will be looking for things that are out of place because they hope to charge me for a repair. I can sort of justify not replacing my suspension for upwards of a thousand bucks because that’s a fairly major expense that I’d have to save up for. The same holds true with the transmission problem, because anything related to that is going to also be up there in the thousand dollar range. It’s pretty thin, I know, but it’s also the truth.

So the lesson here is exactly what’s in the title: spending a little money right now can save you a lot of money later on. This is true in many situations, not just vehicle maintenance. The recent car trouble is simply the catalyst for the topic, and there are many situations where this idea applies. Hiring a lawyer can save you from expensive fines, or paying a dentist to clean your teeth every six months might save you from thousands of dollars in dental work, or perhaps replacing that one part on your computer might save you from having to buy a completely new system because you didn’t let it set it all on fire. Whatever the situation, most of the time sacrificing a little bit now will save you a lot of trouble later.

What do you think about spending money on the little things? Would you rather just deal with problems as they come up, or do you try to stay on top of things? How much is too much when it comes to taking care of the regular expenses in your life? We tend to ignore many things that should be high up on our priority list, mostly because we convince ourselves they aren’t really that important. It isn’t until things go wrong that we’re forced to realize that is a mistake. It might be a good idea to reevaluate your own list to be sure you’re not putting yourself in a position to have something truly bad happen to you.

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