The Real MSM: Maintenance Saves Money

Five minutes of maintenance can save hundreds of dollars, lots of time, and tons of heartache.

For me, maintenance of the things I rely on in life has become a complete no-brainer. Spending a bit of time here and a bit of time there on the valuable things and the important things in my life extends their lifespan. It helps them to keep running great. It makes sure those important things are there when I need them. It extends the time between serious repairs and replacements. And, in the end, those little bits of maintenance save me tons of money and make my life better.

Health Maintenance

The first thing to maintain is you. If you’re lacking energy or feel poorly, it’s pretty difficult to be as productive and active as you might wish to be. Spending even a little bit of time each day maintaining your personal health goes a long way toward extending both the length and the quality of your life, from the great span of the years to the simple enjoyment of getting out of bed with a healthy amount of energy.

Ten Simple Steps to Get Started

1. Take a walk each evening and listen to music or podcasts or the radio while you stroll.
2. Eat smaller portions of what you already eat.
3. Toss out preprocessed food and replace it with raw foods like fruits and vegetables.
4. Eat less meat.
5. Drink moderately and give up smoking.
6. Eat a healthy breakfast – say, a banana or an apple.
7. Address the stresses in your life head-on.
8. Reduce your responsibility load.
9. Use less salt to season your food.
10. Stretch fully each morning.

Skill Maintenance

Your skills are your ticket to earning income and building new professional relationships. The more skills (and the better skills) you bring to the table, the more money you’re going to make over the long run. I’m not just talking about the specific aspects of whatever your job is. I’m also talking about communication skills, planning skills, information management skills, presentation skills, and so on. The more you shine these skills, the better off you’ll be in every professional context.

Ten Simple Steps to Get Started

1. Practice your skills regularly.
2. Volunteer the use of your skills.
3. Do things yourself.
4. Use your skills and talents to help your friends.
5. Push your skills by taking on challenging projects.
6. Take classes.
7. Read about the changes in your fields of interest.
8. Adopt the skills that match the changes in your fields of interest.
9. Master transferable skills.
10. Use your skills as a source of personal amusement or entertainment.

Home Maintenance

Your home is likely the biggest investment you’ll make. Maintenance protects that investment from countless disasters and malfunctions, things that eat money like mad, eat up time, and cause countless headaches. With just a little bit of effort, you can make such disasters occur quite rarely. What’s better: a bit of leisurely time around your property or panic while your basement floods and you calculate the bills?

Ten Simple Steps to Get Started

1. Check and replace furnace and air conditioning filters.
2. Examine the foundation for any cracks.
3. Examine exposed wood (attic, etc.) for insect damage and do any insect preventative maintenance that is needed.
4. Drain off a pan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank.
5. Test all fire/smoke/carbon monoxide detectors in the house.
6. Check all visible pipes for leaks (don’t forget under sinks, etc.).
7. Check the gauge on all fire extinguishers and replace if needed.
8. Check all faucets for dripping water and change washers if needed.
9. Check all gutters for blockage and clean as needed (bird’s nests, leaves, etc.).
10. Remove screens, clean window wells, and dry them.

Auto Maintenance

For most of us, our car is our key to much of our life. It takes us to and from work. It takes us to and from our sources for food. It helps us run countless errands. It keeps us safe while we’re doing this. Unsurprisingly, we want it to be reliable. We don’t want it to break down on us when we least need it. A bit of maintenance can help insure just that.

Ten Simple Steps to Get Started

1. Check the tire pressure and air them up to the recommended maximum.
2. Check, clean, and perhaps replace the air filter on all automobiles regularly.
3. Monitor the fluid levels in your car (and know how to do this yourself).
4. Replace the oil in your car yourself.
5. Wash your car regularly to prevent rusting and exterior damage.
6. Rotate your tires regularly.
7. Listen carefully as your automobile runs, both inside and outside.
8. Replace spark plugs regularly.
9. Keep jumper cables in your vehicle and know how to use them.
10. Follow your cars’ maintenance schedules to the letter.

Relationship Maintenance

Our connections with people need maintenance, too. A friendship unnourished is a friendship that withers on the vine, and the same holds true with marriages and other relationships. The end of a relationship can be very painful, personally, professionally, and financially. Investing a bit of time regularly into the relationships that matter can make all the difference.

Ten Simple Steps to Get Started

1. Have regular conversation that goes beyond small talk.
2. Regularly tell the people you love that you love them.
3. Don’t get angry when you’re criticized.
4. Explain calmly how you’re feeling when you’re perturbed.
5. Go the extra mile to show someone you care about them.
6. Write handwritten notes for every occasion.
7. Touch base regularly with the people that are important to you.
8. When you make a mistake, confess it instead of trying to hide it.
9. When someone you care about makes a mistake, listen and support instead of criticizing.
10. Give the best in you to others.

How Can I Get All This Done?

Maintenance Monday

When do I do most of my maintenance? Well, much of it is done on a roughly quarterly basis and in big batches. I’ll go on a big maintenance tear, tackling all of these categories as intensely as possible. (I also simply find ways to replace normal routines, too, particularly for health maintenance.)

Where do I find the time? Mondays. About once every two to three months, there’s a national holiday that’s celebrated on a Monday. One of them happens to be this coming Monday – Memorial Day. Labor Day. Martin Luther King Day. Washington’s Birthday. Columbus Day.

Utilize those extra days to maintain all of the things that are important in your life. Maintain your relationships, your home, your skills. It’ll make all the difference for having a life that’s happy and stable and without the kind of disastrous emergencies that drain our energy and money and time.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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