Monthly Money Mistake – February 2020

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This month’s money mistake – not keeping up on vehicle maintenance

Financially I think I do a lot of things well but there is always room for improvement. The Monthly Money Mistake series is a place where I can highlight a mistake from the previous month, provide follow up from previous months’ mistakes, and record action steps for improvement in the future.

Since starting the Monthly Money Mistake series I have become more mindful of my money.  Although there is still lots of room for improvement, it is rewarding to see steady progress.

Hopefully, this series helps to also inspire you to be more mindful of your money.  In the end, it doesn’t matter what specifically you are spending your money on.  The only thing that matters is that you are aligning your spending with your values.

In previous months I have often discussed money mistakes that relate to food.  This month we are going in a different direction and talking about a topic I have yet to discuss as a money mistake. This month’s money mistake is not keeping up on vehicle maintenance.

Last Months’ Money Mistake Follow Up

But first, let’s take some time to reflect on last month’s money mistake – avoidable food waste.

I’m happy to report that this month saw great progress from last month’s money mistake.

We are no longer giving our little one milk right before bed. This has led to a substantial decrease in wasted milk. Previously we would heat up milk for her and some nights she drank it all and other nights she barely drank any, resulting in wasted milk.

Related Post – Monthly Money Mistake – January 2020

Now we give her a serving of milk first thing in the morning when she wakes up. This has the benefit of being when she is hungriest so she drinks all the milk.  And it always nice to get some morning cuddles with her while she’s drinking her milk.

This past month I have also been experimenting with changing how I grocery shop.  I’m happy to report that this has had a positive impact on our budget.  This is still a work in progress because we went to Costco 3 times last month, but slow progress is being made.

For the past few weeks, we have also experimented with meal planning, again. We have tried meal planning many times in the past but it never seems to stick.

But for whatever reason, this time is different.  In the past hubby did the majority of the cooking.  But now with a little one and both of us working, we are sharing more of the cooking responsibilities. And meal planning is working.

In the past, hubby was always resistant but now he is loving it.  After a busy day with the little one he doesn’t have to think about what to make for dinner, he just looks at the plan and is good to go.

The Mistake

Okay, let’s get to this month’s money mistake.

This month’s money mistake relates to not keeping up with vehicle maintenance.  

There is a lot of information in the financial independence community about the true cost of car ownership.  A few months back I proposed to hubby that we go down to one vehicle in our household.  When we really looked at this as an option, it just didn’t make sense for us.  Well, actually it was hubby telling me that there was no way we would go down to one vehicle.

So right now we are a 2 (well actually 3 – the third being my collector pickup) vehicle household. There is nothing wrong with owning multiple vehicles.  The mistake that we made was not keeping up with the maintenance on one of our vehicles.

Our Older Vehicles

Our 2 primary driving vehicles are a 2005 Honda CRV and a 2013 Chevrolet Equinox. Both were bought brand new and we have the intention of driving both of them until they cannot be driven any longer.

The past month the check engine and maintenance light have been on in the Honda CRV.  At first, we thought that it might have been low on oil so we topped it up and didn’t think any more of it – even though the lights didn’t go off.

Just this past week I finally made an appointment to have it serviced; it was well overdue for an oil change at the very least.  Turns out it needed a lot more than just an oil change.  Most of the work was reasonable and we have money in our budget for it.

The maintenance that could have been avoided related to the oil.  Because the oil had not been changed in an excessively long time and had run very low it was like sludge.  In order to fully take care of this and prevent it from becoming a greater issue, the engine required a hot oil flush.  This ended up costing us $76.50, a cost that could have been avoided had we kept up with our vehicle maintenance.

The Lesson

The easy lesson here is to pay attention to check engine lights and to regularly monitor the oil in our vehicles.  For many years I drove a vehicle that didn’t burn oil at all so I got out of the habit of checking my oil.

Now that our vehicles are getting older and have more kilometers on them it is more important than ever to check and change the oil regularly.  Had we been checking and changing the oil regularly on the Honda CRV we could have saved ourselves the $76.50.

To take this a step further, we could save more money by doing the oil changes on our vehicles ourselves. That being said, that is not something that we want to spend our time doing.  For that reason, we have budgeted for vehicle maintenance in our budget.

Action Steps

The action steps to prevent this money mistake in the future are quite easy – they just need to be remembered:

  • Regularly check the oil in our vehicles
    • This could either be done once a month (with a reminder set in our phones to remember)
    • Or this could easily be done every time we fill up the vehicle with gas.
  • Regular maintenance of our vehicles
    • When the check engine light comes on, get it looked at right away (thankfully my dad has a code reader so we can do this for free)
    • Schedule regular oil changes as they come due on the vehicle
This month's money mistake relates to vehicle maintenance. If you own a vehicle you will want to read how you can avoid this mistake. #vehiclemaintenance #handfulofthoughts #moneymistake

Final Thoughts

In the grand scheme of things, the $76.50 extra that this month’s money mistake ended up costing us is not the end of the world.  But the bad habit of not maintaining regular vehicle maintenance could end up costing us a lot more in the future.

Because we have decided to be a multiple vehicle household we also need to accept the responsibilities of this.  Driving older vehicles will save us money, as long as we keep up with regular vehicle maintenance.

What was your money mistake this month?

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12 Comments

  1. Curious, why is it impossible to rely on one car? I ask because I also assumed a two car household was necessary for my household of two income earners + 1 child but we made it work due to my flexible work schedule.
    I feel as though you wouldn’t have mentioned it if it wasn’t somewhat possible. What’s holding you back?

    1. Maria says:

      Thanks for calling me out Ryan – haha. When we looked at it there were a few reasons why 1 car wouldn’t work for us in our current season of life. Right now hubby works shift work and although I’m a teacher my work hours are not always predictable due to a volunteer component to my job. That being said scheduling and coordinating one vehicle is extremely difficult. The public transit system is also not great for either of us commute to work. In the summer hubby can bike to work but this becomes extremely difficult and dangerous in the winter due to the route he would have to take (he can take the trails in the summer).

      I think eventually we could get rid of one of our vehicles but not at the moment, doing so would add more stress to our lives and take away family time which is very important to us right now with a little one at home.

      1. Great response. Judging by your expert tracking of your money I’m certain this was weighed on a pro/con list of some sort so I thought I’d ask. Thanks!

        1. Maria says:

          You are right Ryan. I did all the calculations and brought them to hubby with my argument to go down to one vehicle. His argument factored in time which I neglected to consider. On this one time won over money.

  2. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Maria says:

      Thanks for reading Marie Antoinette:)

  3. Thanks for sharing! I usually get a little sticker from our mechanic to let me know when I need to take the car in (by month and also by odometer). I usually wait for the odometer reading to take it in (as it’s the later one). It’s a nice reminder to go for maintenance because otherwise I would totally forget.

    1. Maria says:

      That sticker is a great idea GYM. We had a sticker but the information wore off and with the cold of the winter, it didn’t stick very well. The fact that the ink wore off should have been an indication to us that it was time for some vehicle maintenance.

  4. I enjoy your monthly money mistake series, Maria. It is a great way to improve at managing and staying on top of your finances. I used to own a 2006 Chevrolet Impala. I learned about vehicle maintenance the hard way, as it always ended up costing me a lot when I took it in. But I no longer have a car and am enjoying more predictable transportation costs. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Maria says:

      Hey RTC it’s great that you now have predictable transportation costs. We always try to keep ours down but as you’ve said vehicle maintenance does come up and we can always be better in that category.

  5. I’m like GYM, and I go by the mileage suggestion on the oil change sticker. That means I get my car’s oil changed about every 10 months. For me, it feels like a reasonable interval.

    When we were in our 20s, my husband and I drove one of his family cars from Vancouver to Kelowna and back… and the oil was low the whole time. The poor car ended up needing a full engine rebuild! Yikes.

    I’m actually surprised that your hot oil flush wasn’t too outrageously priced, and that it was all you needed to fix the issue! Thankfully, it wasn’t a $1,500+ job like our engine rebuild was!

    1. Maria says:

      Chrissy – a full engine rebuild does sound much more expensive than a hot oil flush. Your story is a great cautionary tale – we will definitely have to be more attentive with our vehicle maintenance.

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