- Personal Finance
How to Prevent Big Bills
We all know things happen to dip into our emergency fund. But wouldn't you rather prevent those big bill accidents as much as possible? Believe it or not, there are many easy ways to save money in advance by preventing the accidents that lead to costly repair bills. Here are just a few.
Purchase a Drain Cover
Often titled as "shower stoppers" for the bathroom, there's a version of these nifty ilttle money savers for every drain in the house. One of the most common costly occurrences is calling a plumber or maintenance man because of a blocked drain. I learned this the hard way when our sink started backing up into the bathtub, all because of a huge clump of hair the previous tenants left in the drain. Yuck! You can sometimes solve the problem on your own, like we did, by pouring buckets of water into the sink with the clog to force the clump through, using a drain snake and liquid plumber, but why not save yourself the hassle?
If you're not using a drain catcher for the kitchen sink, changes are that the bits of food going down here and there could contribute to a major clog down the line. Shower drains get clogged up with hair as well as soap debris, and bathroom sinks fall prey to facial hair shavings and soap residue as well. A hair stopper for the shower and drain covers for the kitchen and bathroom sinks can prevent all of this.
Switch to Liquid
On the same note, if you're using bar soap, stop. They might be cheaper at the checkout counter but those grimy chunks that get left behind and washed down the drain not only leave a nasty residue on your tub and sink, but can contribute to costly drain clogs over time. A hair clog is easy to pull out of a drain, but caked on soap, not so much. Use liquid or cream bodywash and handsoap if at all possible and save money by buying refills in bulk.
Change That Oil!
It's something every dad has warned his kids about, but if you're like me, you never listened until it was time to get the repair bill. Cars are one of the most major unexpected expenses we face, so taking care of them regularly is essential. You don't need to be an expert or spend lots of cash to give your car some preventative TLC, either. A regular oil change and even having the rotors resurfaced on your break pad can extend the life of your car.
Keep it Hot
In the winter time, keep your gas tank healthy by using an antifreeze product like HEET. This prevents your tank from freezing if you wait until it's almost empty, pour the product in as directed, and then fill the tank. This is especially important for those who live in colder climates where temperatures can go from chilly to freezing overnight. Also, try not to let your gas tank sit overnight when it's less than a quarter full. This also helps prevent freezing.
Consider Pet Insurance
I originally thought these plans were a scam, but once I found out that for a few dollars a month I'd get my animals' regular exams covered as well as emergency care, I signed up. We all love our pets and want the best for them, so why not plan for their medical care? I've known too many people who regretted decisions they had to make for their pets in an emergency situation because they didn't have the money for unexpected vet bills. Paying into a pet insurance plan can mean that when the time comes you pay little or sometimes even no money out of pocket, and can focus on what's best for your pet.
Living in a coastal area that often gets hit by storms and hurricanes has made me realize, especially in the wake of Sandy, just how important it is to prepare your property for all possible weather contingencies.
Keep It Clean
Use an antivirus software to keep your computer free of viruses and prevent costly repair bills. Let's face it, companies like to stick us for every penny they can when it comes to getting a computer repaired. I was even told once that if I wanted to recover my data, I'd have to pay over a hundred dollars. Back up your files regularly so that you don't lose important data and download a free antivirus such as AVG or Avast!. In my experience, both of these are far better than costly protection packages on the market. Malwarebytes is another great free software program to use on top of your regular antivirus. Running scans regularly can help ensure that your computer stays healthy until you upgrade.