Do it yourself and save some cash

We’ve got a large yard. Well large for New England standards anyway. As the weather started getting nice, Jeff and I had to consider the chore of mowing. Neither one of us likes to mow but we’ve got a nice tractor to make the job easier. A few weeks, we went to start the tractor and, of course, it wouldn’t start. Usually at the beginning of the season, we call the local lawn and garden place to do routine maintenance on it. This time it was going to take a month to get someone out here to look at it. We couldn’t wait that long so we decided to do it ourselves.

I downloaded the operations manual from the John Deere website. We needed to change the oil, filters and spark plug. I wrote down all the info and headed to my local Home Depot. I was impressed to find they sold a maintenance kit which included everything we needed for the bargain price of $44. It was about a 10% savings from purchasing everything separately. We got the kit home and with the assistance of the operator’s manual, changed the oil and got everything installed.

It still didn’t start. I mentioned this to my friend, Jim, who has got to be one of the handiest people I know. He came over and we started taking the tractor apart. He explained to us that one of the mechanisms that is supposed to move up and down when the tractor starts wasn’t moving. I started to worry that this was going to be expensive. When we took the cover off the engine, a whole bunch of leaves and grass fell out of the compartment. Apparently, a mouse had built a little home under the engine cover. We blew out all the debris and the mower started!

Having the tractor repair guy come out would have cost us $200-400. Between the operations manual and our friend Jim, we got the mower running. Before hiring someone to do minor repairs for you, try seeing if you can fix it yourself. There are tons of online resources out there. Before picking up the phone, open your browser first.

Now the hard part, actually mowing the damn lawn. Sigh. Did I mention I HATE mowing?

Make sure you budget for EVERYTHING

The problem with most budgets I’ve ever seen is that they don’t take into account everything. Those little things you pay annually, like car registration and your AAA renewal are generally forgotten. Putting a little money aside for home repairs and maintenance is generally missed. This is why I like Dave Ramsey so much. His budgets include everything. I’m very thankful for that today.

I’ve said before that we have a very tight budget, as we are trying to pay down as much debt as possible this year. Even with the tightness in the budget, I still have $46 a month budgeted for home repairs and maintenance. I know it’s not a lot of money but if we have an emergency, I’ve got $1,000 in the emergency fund. The $46 a month is for those little things that need to be fixed or replaced around the house.

He hates expired coupons!

Well, we had one of those little things happen yesterday. My youngest cat, Thor, got closed into my craft room Thursday night. I didn’t even see him run in there. Friday morning, I didn’t see him. He usually runs up to me when I wake up so I started looking for him. I heard him crying in the room and let him out. He was whining and not acting like Thor. A few minutes later, he jumped onto my side of the bed and peed. Luckily, he did not pee on any of the top blankets and it didn’t do through to the mattress. He did pee through the sheet, the mattress pad and the electric blanket which was under the mattress pad. My husband now wants to replace these items since he is worried about the cat pee. With my $46 budget, I can definitely replace the mattress pad. I’ll have to wait to see if I can get another electric blanket on clearance. I paid $25 for the last one on clearance a few years ago (it was marked down from $89). If I didn’t have the repairs and maintenance account, I would have to take the money from somewhere else in my budget. Hopefully, I’ll have some money left over to get some caulk to recaulk my shower. That was my project this month.

Are there items missing in your budget?

EDIT:  We washed the mattress cover and I think we got everything out of it. Yay! Don’t need to replace it. Also added a picture of Thor helping me clean out my expired coupons. He looks calm in the picture but he was going crazy on those expired coupons. He’s lucky he’s so cute.