When Time Is Money

By Kevin Gibbons

I loved my Dad. Among his many attributes, he was very much a “do-it-yourself” kind of guy. He did most of our home and car repairs himself. If he couldn’t do the work himself, he had friends, that together, could do just about anything, including putting on new roofs, building complete add-on rooms, putting up paneling, wallpaper, you name it.

One trait I definitely inherited from him was the stubborn insistence that I could do something myself as well as, and much less costly than, hiring someone else. I remember growing up working on my bicycle, tuning the spokes and brakes while he was changing oil and spark plugs in the family car. Both of us would think nothing of replacing a sink or toilet, installing new light fixtures, rewiring the house circuit, or doing a host of other things that probably skirted local permitting regulations.

When I had to replace the side fence in my house 15 years ago, I bought the lumber, rented a power post hole digger, called my friends, including Melissa’s husband, Paul, and got to it. That fence is still standing, so I think we did a pretty good job.

So, when our back fence gave out, of course I told my wife that I’d build a new one. I measured the fence, created and priced out a bill of materials and then waited for the weather to be accommodating and for me to have the 2 days I estimated I needed to do the demolition and construction. If you read my blog article on buying a new car, you know that I tend to be methodical and thoughtful in my approach to these things, while my wife, Leta, is a bit more focused. (She may say I procrastinate; I prefer “methodical and thoughtful…”).  She wanted to hire a local contractor to put the fence in. Of course, my immediate thought was “why should I spend good money to have someone else do what I am quite capable of?”

I resisted the idea, but as several weeks went by when I was unable to do the work, due to scheduling conflicts, Leta became more insistent, and my arguments became less compelling. We hired the contractor. He and his team of 4 workers removed the old fence, dug new holes, set posts, poured concrete and built the fence, along with trimming two trees in 8 ½ hours. And they did it just the way I would have!

It cost us some money (not a lot, by any measure) but we had the new fence in one day. I could spend my weekend with my wife doing things that were more pleasant than digging holes, pouring concrete and making dump runs. And we can feel good about supporting a local businessman. Now this does not mean I have suddenly given up doing my own home improvements. In fact, I just recently installed 2 new lighting/fan units. I’ve just learned to listen to my wife, after 24 years, and include the time investment in my appraisal process.

So, what’s the takeaway? Being Savvy is about more than just saving money. Saving money is an important part of being Savvy, but the end goal is to save money while enjoying the journey. When you are looking at the cost of an expense, and potential savings, look beyond the balance sheet. Saving those two days to spend with my wife (and Bridger, the big fluffy guy), coupled with the satisfaction of having that fence building task completed, was well worth the expense.