Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Don't Forget Maintenance Costs

I used to just look at the purchase price before deciding to buy something.  Over time, I learned that maintenance cost is also an important component in the decision making process.   Sometimes, since maintenance is an ongoing cost, it can be a major factor in determining the financial feasibility of a purchase,

Here are some rules of thumb that I have learned about maintenance costs:
  • Everything has a maintenance cost.   From clothing to a house, everything requires periodic cleaning and repair.  We may choose to defer maintenance to reduce costs, but the lack of maintenance with eventually cause an issue.
  • Higher complexity = higher maintenance cost.    A motorcycle costs more to maintain than a bike.  A car costs more to maintain than a motorcycle.   A luxury car costs more to maintain than a standard car.
  • More stuff = more maintenance cost and effort.  I used to think that owning things was cost efficient.  Having our own pool would save membership fees.  Having a vacation home would save rental costs.  That is true, but then the hidden cost and time of maintenance needs to be considered.   Nowadays, I think it's sometimes more cost efficient to rent when needed and let someone us handle the maintenance.  
Not only does maintenance incur costs, it also takes time to get it done, even if someone else is paid to do the maintenance.  Nowadays, I think less (complexity, cost, stuff) is better.  So that we can spend our time and money on more important things.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back Wednesdays for a new segment.

This is not financial or maintenance advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

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