There are vampires trying to suck your bank account dry. Tweet this!
And it's not your kids, those annoying people that keep calling for you to donate to your alma mater (even though you're still paying down your student loans), or the IRS.
No. It's the elusive, but-ever-present Maintenance + Upkeep Vampire.
I don't really remember the time period when I started thinking that a purchase was a one-and-done thing. But I definitely remember the day when the fact that it typically isn't smacked me in the face. So let’s talk about what sort of products you want to avoid buying if you can so that your monthly cash flow stays as plush as possible.
Budget Vampire #1: Belongings with Lots of Moving Parts
Things with lots of moving parts, all interconnected and necessary for the functioning of the item, have a much higher probability of breaking down. Like electric toothbrushes versus manual ones. Or cars with lots of electrical systems that are great for the first several years, but promise some pricey bills after an accident or from normal wear and tear.
Your Garlic: Beware of movable parts. Of course, that's much easier said than done in our modern times. So what you want to be on the lookout for are really great warranty programs. This doesn't mean you have to buy expensive warranties; many credit cards offer extended warranties just for being a card member. Be sure to check into the details of yours and save receipts as necessary (I have a “receipts + manuals” file in my filing cabinet for this very reason).
Budget Vampire #2: Belongings with Frequent Replacements
Hello Brita Water Filter and the Swiffer Mop!
I thought once I had splurged on these sleek new appliances (I was in my early 20s just out of college, so they seemed like shiny appliances to me), that my investment was done. But anyone with a Brita or a Swiffer knows that the refills can be an endless money vampire. It really rubbed me the wrong way every few months when I had to dedicate more of my paycheck to disposable items just to be able to use my original purchase.
And then one day it dawned on me: after a year or so of buying these refills, I had paid MORE in refills than I did for the dang product! Light bulb moment right there (reminiscent of those BMG Music Club days of my teens).
Your Garlic: Sometimes it's better to pay a bit more upfront for a product that does the same thing, but does not need refills. Such as the Reveal Mop vs. the Swiffer Mop. It is about $10 more to buy, but the pads are washable, and the cleaning liquid container is refillable (we use vinegar and water in ours).
Budget Vampire #3: Belongings with Lots of Maintenance Needs
Pets are the best example for this category (vet appointments, flea medication, carpet cleaner, etc.); however, if you're like me, you consider pets family and not belongings.
So other examples can include cars (oil changes, annual registration/inspections, insurance, gasoline, etc.), or swimming pools (chemicals, water refills, liner repairs, etc.).
Your Garlic: See if there are maintenance plans included. Like when we purchased our central A/C and furnace, there were several cleanings included in the price. After that, definitely shop around for places that have opened up shop to complete this maintenance (typically cheaper than getting maintenance done by the original seller of the item).
Bottom Line: you better figure in the maintenance and upkeep when you purchase items…which can cost even more than the product itself. Otherwise, prepare to have your monthly cash flow sucked dry!