How many times have you found yourself with a maintenance problem around your place and wished you didn’t have to make a trip to the hardware store? Years ago, at our old place, we were 40 minutes round trip to the hardware store (I’ve got friends that would consider that close to town!). On some bad days, I ended up making four or even five trips to buy parts and supplies to fix a host of problems that popped up. Back then gas was a lot cheaper and my time wasn’t quite as valuable, but each trip was a major inconvenience.
Eventually we moved closer to town and now we are only about ten minutes from the hardware store. But each trip costs me in gas money and a loss of time. Years ago, I decided that I would start buying a few extra items each time I made a trip to the hardware store. This is similar to our approach to building up a nice well stocked pantry and medicine chest.
Whether it was a building project, plumbing work, or electrical, I would buy extra consumable objects or pieces that I seem use each time. Eventually, I had a decent supply of the basics. I still have to make a trip to the hardware store from time to time to pick up a specialty item or bulk stuff, but I was able to cut down on my trips.
After we had a hard freeze, I found that we had a leak out in the barn. Instead of having to make a trip into town for a new 1/2″ elbow, I just went and dug through my box of plumbing parts (organizing my extra parts is a long term goal!) and eventually found a brand new 1/2″ galvanized elbow. And of course, I had plenty of teflon thread tape because of my strategy. In just a few minutes I had the broken elbow out and had replaced it with the new piece. That meant that I was able to spend more time with my kids outside playing and enjoying life instead of wasting 30 to 45 minutes at the store.
The next time I’m in town, I’ll stock back up and be ready for the next minor emergency that pops up around our home. When you figure the current cost of gas and the cost of your time, spending a few extra dollars on spare parts could really help you come out ahead in the long run. An extra 2×4 or box of nails could save you a bit and let you spend more time doing the things you enjoy.