Sometimes my life seems to revolve around delaying gratification—the satiation of my needs and wants—by delaying purchases or services. By nature, my consumer pulse is sluggish at best, so it is not a far stretch for me to do so. I do not constantly feel a nagging craving inside of me for new, better, and more technologically advanced.

But I have found that sometimes delaying gratification by not making a purchase or having a service done actually ends up costing me more in the end.

Here is a perfect example: I went three summers (two in Southern Florida, and one in Houston) without AC in my car. On any given summer day, you could see me cruising down the road with all of my non-automatic windows down, sitting up towards my steering wheel so as not to gather a small pool of sweat on the small back of my business shirt while driving to and from work. By the third summer, I was ready to give in. A mechanic charged me $100 or so to put new Freon into my car, which worked for the day. By Day #2, the AC was no longer working; turns out that because I had waited so long to put new Freon into my car’s AC system, something burst, and my entire AC system went bust. To fix it would have been close to a $1,000 (mind you, this was the vehicle I had originally purchased several years ago for just $1500).

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I learned a bit about the importance of maintenance as a long-term cost-saving measure from this and a few other experiences. To hopefully save you a headache in the future, here are a few items that I feel should not be delayed, no matter how tight your momentary budget.

  • Health Services: Health issues tend to get worse (which means cost you more money) the longer you wait to get them taken care of. For example, if you wait to get a cavity or aching tooth checked out, you may end up needing a much more costly root canal instead
  • Insurance (Health, Auto, Home, etc.): Even if you are in-between jobs, do not lapse your coverage; at least be covered by accidental at all times in case the unthinkable happens, and you find yourself in an ambulance on the way to the hospital
  • Leaks: Any type of leak can lead to water damage elsewhere (and possibly mold), which will cost you more than if you immediately take care of the problem
  • Early Bird Specials: We’re not just talking about diners…many things, such as concerts, tickets to the Dave Ramsey live event (I missed out on this when the tickets were $15—and now the tickets are $40 each!), products retailers want to get a head start on selling, etc. have early bird specials that save you money for buying in advance
  • Things that Appreciate in Value: One of my favorite artists is Kessler. He began selling his work in the Eastern Market in D.C., and when I was in college, his paintings were going for $300 (an astronomical price back then). Now that I am older and wish to buy a real Kessler painting, his originals are going for $1500!! Yet again, an astronomical price. While it’s true that you cannot always tell what will appreciate in value, things like mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc. will most certainly appreciate over a long-term timeframe, and so delaying the purchase of them will only cost you money earned down the road

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