Maintenance Always Costs Less

Why would anyone pay for an oil change? 

Call me a weenie (and many do), but I don’t do my own oil changes. I know real men do, but I just don’t. 

I used to go to one of those places that made you wait in their lobby, where you read dated issues of People magazine. (Was Justin Bieber really the Sexiest Man Alive?) Now they make me wait in my car while they do the deed. No more People for me.

If you use an oil change service provider, you’re going to pay $50-$100 every 5,000 miles to get your oil changed. Why not save that money? 

I’m not talking about doing it yourself. Why not just skip oil changes altogether? 

The obvious reason is: You might save a little money in the short term, but you’d cost yourself a lot of money in the long term. What’s the cost of a rebuilt engine? Or a new engine? Or a new car?

So, we all get it – it costs something to maintain our vehicles, but it costs immeasurably more to not do so.

The same principle holds true when it comes to our health, our relationships, even our finances. We have to work to keep them in good shape. Otherwise we’ll wake one day to find ourselves in real trouble.

Don’t miss that truth: maintenance costs less. And that includes your financial life.

What do I mean by maintaining your financial life?

Balance. Think of maintenance as keeping your financial life in balance. That means keeping a close eye on the following tensions.

Protection vs. cash. This is the question of how much risk you should accept in your personal life and how much should you offload through the purchase of insurance. If you can fix a problem by spending an amount equal to six months or less of your gross income, self-insure for that risk. If it would cost more, you’ll likely want to insure that risk. For example, if you’re carrying low limits of liability on your auto insurance because it’s cheap (or because you haven’t updated it in 15 years), you may be saving yourself $50/month while exposing yourself to a $500,000 (or more) damage payment down the road. On the other hand, if you have a low deductible for collision and comprehensive coverage (say $250 or $500), it might make sense to increase that deductible (to say $1,000) if you have enough saved to cover an expense of that amount. You could even use the premium dollars you save by raising your dedutible to increase your liability coverage. That’s a much more efficient use of insurance. Allowing the insurance company to take the risk for a major, expensive event (an auto accident where you are at fault), while you take the risk for a less expensive one (damage to your car).

Spending vs. saving. How much should you be saving? Enough to save up that six-months of income needed in the example above. Then enough to invest and one day be able to work (or not) because you want to, not because you have to. That’s my definition of financial freedom, which includes (but is not limited to) retirement.

Focus vs. worry. You can either worry about you financial future all the time, or focus on your financial future a portion of your time. Hear this, procrastinating friends: delay in dealing with problems never makes them go away…it makes them come back, only bigger!

Today vs. tomorrow. Most of us think we are living in the present. Yet if you’ve not dealt with your uncertain future, your subconscious mind is well aware of your coming crisis. Failing to deal with tomorrow spoils the sweetness of living in the present. 

Oil changes aren’t cheap – but they’re a great value.

So is the balanced, wise financial planning of your life.

Maintenance always costs less.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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