Sunday mornings are always a busy morning for our family. We’re typically rushing out the door to get to church on time. There is always lot’s to do to get the kids ready and we don’t always get the earliest start after staying up too late on Saturday night. A recent Sunday morning became busier than usual when I found the battery in our Tahoe dead. I quickly switched the car seats over to my car and we were off to church again and made it on-time.
I was able to jump the battery later in the morning using my car. I thought the problem was fixed, but the Tahoe was slow to start the rest of the day. In fact, I was concerned we were going to get stranded somewhere and knew it wouldn’t work the next morning for my wife (she drives the Tahoe) while I was at work. So, we visited a local automotive store and had the battery tested and found out if it was bad and past the warranty period. And that’s when I had to make a frugal or cheap decision.
The new battery was going to cost around $99 + tax and I would get a refund for about $15 when I returned the old battery. The other option was to use my AAA membership for help. A new battery via AAA was $115 including tax (reasonable and about the same as the auto store) and they would send someone out to your house to change the battery. Normally, I think this service is free with the membership. However, they were going to charge me $35 to change the battery because the year and make of Tahoe we drive takes some work to get the battery out. It’s nothing more than some screws and bolts, but they were in some odd areas when I looked under the hood.
I opted to pay the auto store for a new battery, get the refund when returning the old battery and do the work myself. I figured $35 was a lot to pay someone for changing a battery and we could definitely save the money. But, these things don’t always work out as planned. It turns out that removing the battery was definitely a job, not complicated, but time consuming. It wasn’t but 10 minutes into the job I realized I didn’t have all the tools I needed. I needed an extension for my socket set and my wrench was broken. At that point, I could have called AAA (and seriously thought about it), but I opted to take a trip to Home Depot (did I mention this was all at 8 PM on Sunday night). And after purchasing my new tools ($25 worth) I completed the job just fine.
Was I frugal or cheap? I know I ended up spending $25 when I was trying to save $35. So, you might say I should have just paid someone to do the job. Perhaps I was cheap. On the other hand, I’ll have those tools (aren’t tools an investment?) for the next time I need to do a similar job or some other work. Perhaps I could save the $35 for a future battery change as well. Perhaps I was frugal.
Yes, I was frustrated, it took time, was inconvenient and I probably grumbled a few expletives here and there. But in the end, I think I made a pretty good decision. $35, really…to change a battery! In my opinion, a frugal decision is one that is smart about the way you spend money. It’s one that saves you money (even if in the long-run). A cheap decision is one that takes frugality to the extreme. It’s pinching pennies until it hurts you and may others around you. Overall, I feel like I made a wise and frugal decision that simply resulted in some lost time and long-term savings.
But, I’m curious; do you think I was frugal or cheap? Would you have paid the $35, assuming you had the cash like I did? Or, would you have paid a convenience fee of $35. Let me know your thoughts about this situation in the comments.