I’m careful with how I spend my money. I don’t take advantage of anyone to get a deal, but if I can save a buck honestly … well, what Winnipegger doesn’t like a deal?!
The thing is though, sometimes the savings I get isn’t nearly as much as I had thought. Occasionally my quest to save leads me to pay MORE than if I hadn’t tried to save money, even before I account for my time … and I definitely pay for dollar-savings with my time. Every time. Especially with my car.
Through a personal connection (who has recently retired) I could buy new car parts cheap. Really cheap. But I don’t have the knowledge to actually fix my own car. I would buy parts and then find someone to install them. I would supply, they would install.
This worked out great – I did save money on the parts, though I admit I did spend a LOT of time making arrangements and running around. But when there were problems, the savings weren’t worth it.
Last year my car had a power steering issue; the power steering pump had worn out and needed to be replaced. Easy enough right? Just buy the part, and pay someone for their time to install it. And that’s exactly what I did.
Problem 1 – Additional parts needed
During the work the labour-only mechanic needed a related part, after he had started the work. I had to buy it from a dealership as I needed it that day to get my car back. It was costly, and took time and caused me a bit of stress.
I did still save money on the parts overall, but I spent a fair amount of time running around. Had I taken my car into a full-service mechanic, this wouldn’t have been a problem I had to deal with. I would have paid a bit more yes, but I wouldn’t have had to spend my time dealing with the issues.
Problem 2 – Warranty
I knew that the work on my car wouldn’t come with a warranty, but knowing that and experiencing that are two different things.
Two weeks after the work was done the new pump started to make noise. The person who supplied the pump wouldn’t warranty the part as he said it was likely that something was done incorrectly during the install.
The person who installed the pump said he did the job right, and since he didn’t supply what he was calling a faulty part, there was no warranty that he would provide on either the part or the labour.
These were two great people pointing the finger at the other. I didn’t have just one person to hold accountable for the result. I was left holding the bag. I found myself in a position where I’d already invested my time, already invested money, and would end up paying TWICE to get my car fixed.
Had I taken my car to a fix-it shop and paid one person to supply and install the part I would have paid a bit more yes, but would have had only one person to hold accountable. And in the case of an issue, the modest extra fees would have been worth it. I wouldn’t have spent any time picking up and paying for parts, and wouldn’t have the stress of dealing with a problem that shouldn’t exist in the first place. In the end, I ended up spending MORE on my “deal” than I would have if I had just paid full price.
I have since purchased a new pre-owned car. It occasionally needs repairs. When that happens, I take my car into a proper mechanic and I pay them for both parts and labour. I haven’t had a problem like the power steering pump issue since!
I have become much more aware of what the true cost of a “deal” actually is, and the risks I’m opening myself up to. I value experts, and I value the service that I receive. Do I still look for ways to get a deal? Of course. It’s my nature. And who doesn’t like a deal?!
Whether talking about saving money on a simple automotive repair or on a complex home addition, major renovation, or custom home build, the core concept is the same. There are always ways to save money, and there are always ramifications. Sometimes the savings are worth the headaches. Sometimes they aren’t.
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