This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices.
Preventative mainentance is a phrase that makes many homeowners’ eyes glaze over. For many busy people, there’s nothing more boring than going around your house doing various tasks that seem to not really be fixing anything.
On the other hand, look at the tale of my hot water heater. It’s about ready to go bad years before it should, but if the owner had just put in a few minutes a year, that heater would have kept running for many more years. If you can double the life of a piece of equipment in your house with just a few minutes’ work, that’s extremely cost-effective time.
In fact, not long ago, I compiled an extensive list of many, many possible home and auto maintenance tasks, almost to the point of overkill.
But how does one keep up with all of these tasks – or even remember to do them at all? The most effective way I’ve found to keep up to date with home maintenance tasks is to schedule them.
Here’s the game plan.
First, make a giant list of your home and auto maintenance tasks. You might want to use my earlier list for starters. You may have other ones that you find you need to be doing. Obviously, some are more important than others, but it’s always good to keep up maintenance on as much as you can to cut down on long term costs.
Next, figure out how often each task can be done. For example, I have three month air handling filters for my house, so this only needs to happen each season. Go through each item on your list and note how often it needs to be taken care of. Many things on that monthly maintenance list don’t have to happen on a monthly basis – instead, choose a regular basis that works for you, like every other month or every third month for some of the tasks.
Then take your event calendar and assign days for the tasks. I use Sunbird for my personal scheduler – it’s a free program you can get easily online – and I use it to schedule home and auto maintenance tasks. You might use Outlook instead, or use a planner or a wall calendar. Just mark down all of the days where you’ll do the tasks. I often put one simple task on a weeknight, like changing an air handling filter, and move the more complicated ones and the ones in multiples to the weekends.
It takes a bit of time to get this all set up, but the rewards are worth it. You don’t have to remember to do all of these things any more – instead, just glance at the calendar and then take care of the brief maintenance task. The end result? Your home – and the appliances in it – last a lot longer, and that saves you both headaches and money.