Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saving Money the Smart Way

I've talked about this before on our daily radio blurb, Another Day at RepcoLite, but I'll say it again here: I'm a cheap, cheap, cheap person. When it comes to spending money, I don't like to do it. Oh, let me rephrase that. I don't mind spending money on FUN things. But when it comes to home improvement projects or things like that, I'm always looking for a way to save some cash.

Well, this money-saving binge I go on during home projects usually ends very badly for me. Most recently, I experienced this in my bathroom. See, I wanted to install beadboard, but I didn't want to drop the money that was necessary to buy regular wood strips of beadboard. That was too expensive for my little bathroom project. So, I looked around at all the home centers until I found the perfect solution: High Density Fiberboard Beadboard. (Basically, that translates into highly compressed paper with primer on it.)

This stuff was half the price of the regular wood and it was already primed. I was saving 1/2 the money I would have spent AND, I wouldn't have to waste time priming. This was exactly what I was looking for. So I bought it. And installed it. And that's when I first noticed the problems.

See, in pounding the nails into this stuff, I found that they created little puckered spots in the fiberboard. It was impossible to sand smooth (because it was really just paper) and I had a hard time patching them in with spackling. But still, I persevered, and before long, finished the project. And it looked great. GREAT. For about 3 weeks.

I'm not lying. 3 weeks after the installation was finished, I started to notice things. I noticed that the fiberboard was bubbling or puckering or something wherever the kids splashed water from the tub. I mean WHEREVER they splashed water. Even a tiny bit of water on this stuff caused problems.

Well, I worked to repair those spots, coated the boards with more paint . . . but it was a losing battle. Finally, about 1 year after I installed the boards, I ripped them all out and reinstalled new stuff. This time, I installed the real wood. I dropped the cash necessary to buy real wood beadboard and I didn't try to skimp on the work: I bought the unprimed stuff.

I've installed it now and it's holding up great. I've had none of the problems I had with the cheap stuff and I'm finally happy with the way the bathroom turned out.

Now, I bring that up to point out something that I think a lot of people (not just me) do: we try so hard to save money that we end up spending more. See, if I'd just bought the good stuff the first time, I'd have saved over $120 on my project. But that's not all: I'd have saved all the money I spent on my first set of materials (which just ended up in a dumpster), but I'd also have saved all my time and all the money I spent on more nails, more glue, more paint, etc.

Basically, by being cheap, I cost myself over $120 and a couple Saturday's worth of work. What a waste.

The thing I'm getting at is this: when it comes to home improvement projects--projects you think are going to be long-lasting fixes or improvements to your home . . . don't waste your time and money on cheap materials. You'll save some money in the short term, but as I found out, you'll end up giving all those savings back (and then some) a year or so down the road when your cheap materials do what all cheap materials do: fail.

Buy quality materials. Buy quality woods. Buy quality tapes and tools. And (of course) above all else, buy quality paints. These things will cost you a little more money right up front . . . but you'll never regret that expenditure later. Don't "save money" by buying cheap stuff that you'll have to replace later. Save money the smart way: spend a little more up front and enjoy the results of your work much longer!

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