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Most our decisions in life have a financial spin to them.
For the frugal, the choice most often picked is the one that carries the smallest upfront financial hit.
But is always picking the least expensive option the most financially sound one?
It really depends on the situation.
Careful analysis of the pros and cons for each option needs to be done rather than just going with a knee-jerk reaction and always picking the cheapest choice.
For example, when purchasing durable goods, a higher priced item may last far longer than its cheaper counterpart because of the higher quality of materials and workmanship.
Paying more upfront cost may in the long run can save you money as you are not constantly having to replace the less durable, cheaper item.
I remember when I was a new attending I decided to buy upgrade my belt to the SlideBelt (this is a great belt by the way that allows you to adjust the belt far better than traditional buckle type belts).
After choosing the style I liked I was faced with two options, a top-grain leather belt or a full-grain leather belt.
I cannot remember the exact price for these options, but the full grain belt was considerably more expensive (I’m guessing 50% more).
Being frugal/cheap, I decided to go with the cheaper alternative, which essentially looked the same as the full-grain option.
However after just a couple years of use, the top grain leather started peeling off in various areas turning the belt into an eyesore.
I ended up getting a 2nd belt, this time with the full grain option, which is still my go to belt these days (that is if I remember to put it on).
This belt has lasted more than 2x longer than the original top-grain belt, looks essentially new, and I have no doubt will last me many more years.
I would have saved money in the long run if I had just gone with the full grain option right off the bat as my attempt at saving money backfired.
It is important to not automatically equate an increase in price, because of a brand name, to an increase in quality.
While that may have been the case in the past, there are some name brands that have deteriorated in quality over time and now just rely on name recognition alone to charge a premium.
Why I chose to spend over $2k on a repair instead of $125.
I have previously written about replacing my traditional HVAC with a geothermal unit to address the heating and cooling needs of my home.
Although I absolutely love my geothermal system and would make the same decision to convert to it in a heartbeat (love the science behind it and of course the savings in running costs), it was not without problems.
As mentioned in the above referenced article, my geothermal system was a vertically based open looped system with PVC pipes leading from the well near the front of my yard to my garage where the units were located (about 500 feet).
Whenever the garage unit turned on it would open a high pressure valve and high pressure water from the well would come rushing in, with several sharp turns at the end where the main connection was.
On one particular day, when I was leaving for work, I entered my garage and saw that there was quite a bit of water accumulating on the floor.
It turned out that after a few years of handling the immense pressure head, hairline cracks began to form in the PVC piping (despite the inflow PVC piping having thicker walls).
I called the installer who came out and replaced the cracked section without too much of an issue.
The cost of the repair was around $125.
The patch did its job and my geothermal unit was up and running for few years when the same issue happened again.
Again the installer came out and replaced the damaged section and I was billed another $125.
I am not sure why I thought this time would be different but it wasn’t.
Fast forward a few years and again I came into the garage and found quite a bit of water seeping on the floor.
This time when the installer came I queried if there were any other options available because the current situation was not working and becoming too repetitive.
He said the issue was that the PVC piping has a certain lifespan under these conditions and that the only alternative would be to change out the entire interior plumbing portion to something more permanent, namely copper tubing.
Of course I wanted to know how much that project would cost and he came back with a quote of $2200.
Using simple math I knew that this price was equivalent to almost 18 standard repairs at $125 a pop.
Given that this issue happened every 2 to 3 years, it would mean that it would be over 36 years before the repair costs would match this upfront replacement cost.
I would likely not be the owner of this property or perhaps not even alive when this breakeven point occurs.
So the frugal person would say the choice is obvious and go with the $125 repairs indefinitely.
I however chose to switch to the copper pipes, despite it not making the most financial sense for me.
It is not because I like spending money (I don’t).
But there was something I considered that helped me sway my decision.
I was fortunate that every instance that a PVC pipe broke I just so happened to catch it on that same day and have it repaired.
How willing was I to press my luck that future occurrences would also happen at convenient times when I was at home?
I could only imagine if I was on vacation when the unthinkable happened and a PVC pipe burst.
By the time I came home, who knows how many gallons would be pouring out and flooding the garage and perhaps my home.
So the extra money spent was more of an insurance policy to prevent a future disaster.
It has now been over 3 years since I had the copper pipes placed and I am pleased to say that I have not had any more issues with water leaking in the garage.
PVC pipes still have their revenge.
Notice how I mentioned in that last sentence that I had no more issues with water leaking in the GARAGE.
There was one additional issue I had that I thought I might as well share since it was a bit amusing.
Three years ago I had some major landscape work on my yard including the placement of retaining walls and removing brush.
A lot of the work required the use of a small bobcat front loader.
I assume that having heavy machinery going over the buried PVC piping for my geothermal unit caused it to crack, which I did not realize at the time.
The only reason I suspected something may be wrong was that a few months later there was now a particular part of my yard, that was on a slope, that seemed to be soggier than the rest of the ground.
I would often find myself skidding on my walk-behind mower when I crossed this area which soon looked like a mud pit.
I still did not think much of it and attributed it to rain.
But as weeks and months passed and we entered the dry season, this particular patch never got back to normal.
Even walking on the grass felt a bit more “spongier” than other sections.
It then dawned on me that this is likely where the trough for the PVC pipes for my geothermal system were located (I was not there when they put it in so I just assumed the location) and that I may have another leak on my hand.
I hired a guy who brought a small excavator he used to dig down to the level of the pipes.
My suspicion was correct when I saw the hole filling with water quite rapidly.
A crack was found in the pipe, that section was removed and a new section placed.
I believe I paid $300 for the job.
Within a few weeks the saturated ground became dry again and safe to mow.
Knock on wood, that was the last issue I have had with my geothermal unit.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN