I had a plumbing project that a “professional” had done twice over the past few months and both times it began to leak very soon afterwards. Can you guess that I didn’t trust that professional any more? A few days ago I had a very handy friend help me completely redo the plumbing. We could have used the same method as before and the parts would have cost around $65. But we decided to not only replace it, but make it easier for individual pieces to be replaced in the future. This raised the cost of parts to around $80. Not only are the leaks gone, the whole complicated structure is far superior to what was there before. Should it need future repairs, they will be much easier and cost less thanks to the few extra dollars we spent to do it the right way.
As we were working on the plumbing project, we talked about many things and one item made us both shake our heads. I had recently gotten an e-mail from someone who puffed out their chest because they had avoided buying a utility. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll just put a round number of $100 on this utility.
The process that was described would take a few minutes to prepare artwork for output. I’m going to say five minutes to be conservative, but it could have taken longer. It involved multiple steps. With the utility, the entire process would take less than a minute. Each time the process was repeated, this person could save 4 minutes of time. If this was a process that was only utilized once or twice a year, the longer process was probably the better choice.
Again, I’m going to be really conservative in my estimate and say the process was only done twice a day. I’m guessing the reality is that it was done many more times every day. So two times a day in a workweek would be ten times at four minutes lost each time. Using the utility would save 40 minutes a week. In a month, the savings would be more than 2.5 hours. Even if you valued your time at only $10/hour, using the utility would pay off in four months. I’m guessing many of you value your time at a higher value and thus the payoff time would be shorter. And if my guess of only twice a day was low, the payoff could come even faster.
Being frugal is certainly a good thing. But the most frugal action you can take does sometimes require you to spend money. While the person who e-mailed me was really proud they had avoided buying a utility, they were losing money every single time they continued to use a very inefficient process. Evaluate the tasks you do every day and determine if the most frugal path is the way you are using now or if spending a little money now can save you a lot of money in the long run.