DH = Dear Husband
MMM’s side-benefits of badassity
Almost two years ago, I read a post over at Mr. Money Mustache’s site that ended up being very significant for me.* “Necessity Is The Mother of Badassity” focused on the side-benefits of uber-frugal living. During his recent project of putting a new roof on his mother’s house, MMM encountered some challenges, but he didn’t take the easy way out. When he realized her roof deck had disintegrated, the job more than doubled. He learned how to replace the roof deck as well as the roof, and he spent many, many more hours of hard physical work under the hot sun than he had planned to. The benefits?
- confidence gained from getting in over his head, figuring it out, and making it through
- physical fitness from hard labour
- doing something for his mom and saving her a whole lot of money
- improved heat tolerance
I got a kick out of that last benefit: “Improved heat tolerance.” Really? Was MMM scraping the bottom of the barrel with that one?
Our car’s air conditioner
In the winter, our city gets REALLY cold. And in the summer, it gets REALLY hot & humid. Last Sunday, we hit 91 degrees F (33 C), and it’s only June. I tell you this so that you will recognize the significance of the following fact: This spring, we realized that our car’s air conditioner was broken. It’s the car that I have referred to as our “new” car. Our 1999 Dodge Caravan is our old car, and it hasn’t had functioning air conditioning for years. Well, the 2011 Ford Focus isn’t so new any more as it turns out. So no AC in either vehicle.
DH and I discussed whether or not we would get it fixed. He is a DIY type, but his understanding was that fixing a car’s air conditioning was something that pretty well had to be done at an auto repair shop. He could try to tinker around with it himself, but DH is self-employed, and time really is money for him, so he avoids DIY projects that can’t be done in a fairly predictable amount of time.
We keep a reserve fund for car repairs, but the risk with getting the air conditioning looked at would be that the expense could end up being far greater than the amount we have put aside. “It would be $200 just to get it looked at,” explained DH, “and if the compressor is shot, it would cost about $2,000 to replace it. Or if there’s a leak, they’d charge $100 per hour until they found it. And we’d still have to pay that rate if they didn’t find it . . .”
The risk of too much time if we went the DIY route. The risk of too great an expense if we brought it in to be fixed at a shop. The risk of a dead end in either case. What to do?
Improved heat tolerance & new window management skills
As we discussed the possibilities, we took into account the fact that I’m not going to teach summer school this year and that DH had really low business revenue in May. With lower than usual income, we’d have to be more frugal than usual this summer. The auto repair shop option just wasn’t wise. Air conditioning is not a “need” – it’s a “want”. And when you’re trying to become debt-free and turn your finances around, you have to give up some of your wants.
I remembered MMM’s post, and I told DH about it. “I think we have to be badasses,” I said, “and get ready for some improved heat tolerance.”
And that’s the option we settled upon. I don’t like open car windows in the summer because it messes up my hair. But I’m figuring out that there is a fine art to opening car windows so that it minimizes impact on hair. All windows fully open when you’re driving slowly. Driver’s window open just a crack and all other windows fully open when you’re driving at medium speed. All windows shut on the highway, and let the air vent work its magic. See? I’ve learned something. Yet another side-benefit to frugal living.
Benefits of killing money-talk taboo
Although personal finance is still a taboo topic in our society, DH and I – after 4 years of focused debt-reduction – have no problem talking about it with just about anyone. So DH was open to a recent conversation with a friend about how he had fixed his car’s air conditioning. It had taken him a day and a half to figure it out, but he’d done it. A day and a half under the hood of the car was just what DH wanted to avoid, but since his friend had done all of the initial grunt work of discovery, it would only take DH a matter of a couple of hours to try the same thing. He’s going to give it a go. Fingers crossed.
Laurie’s American Ninja Warrior challenge
Laurie issued a challenge earlier this week: What goal can you take on American Ninja Warrior style next month to do more with your money? Our goal is not to spend a cent on our “want” for air conditioning in our car. If DH can fix it, great! But if he can’t, we’ll tough out the summer months with window opening strategies, messy hair, and improved heat tolerance. Because we’re badass like that.
Do you go without air conditioning to save money? Have you ever fixed your car’s air conditioner? How do you keep your hair neat with the windows open? Your comments are welcome.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
*Fun fact: The MMM article was significant for me because when I wrote a post about it shortly after reading it two years ago, Laurie left a comment that ended up bringing about this site – Fruclassity. Want to understand how a comment led to the creation of a site? Check it out : )