SUPER SAVINGS 2
When I was a wee lad, I remember my father taking night courses on auto mechanics. My mom took wood working. I think they wanted to get away from both each other and us kids, but it was also to save serious money. My mom used the schools tools to make a huge ancient forest wood dining room table she has to this day and my dad saved money he would have given a mechanic. It was the early 70’s, the state civil servants hadn’t yet Unionized and while we had a normal one income family even with no mortgage times were tough.
I wasn’t much help but I also was there while he was in the forest cutting his own wood and in the garden with mom. We had solar food dryers. Doing crap yourself was normal, or at least I thought it was. Hire someone? We didn’t have a choice, it was strictly DIY. And yet, I keep hearing today about people having businesses that perform what used to be DIY. In an age of YouTube videos. Are you going to screw things up doing them yourself? Of course! Then you get better. Part of the learning process.
The NOL usually has a few minor business expenses a year to offset the profits from rents. Besides the normal painting and such, water heaters get replaced or whatnot. Her first handyman knew what he was doing but like most folks her age they started semi-retiring due to age related falling apart. I told her to ask me to do whatever, and if I had no confidence in my skill, if I was worried a screw up would break something valuable, I’d tell her to get the handyman to do it. Then, he got sick and she got another guy, one she thought she could trust as his day job was at her job.
What a dingus he turned out to be. He charges $100 ( plus materials ) to go up on the roof and spray spots where the tiles cracked, and at the vent pipes. I had to go up after him and finish the job. He supposedly fixed the leaking tub facets ( again, at a huge cost ) but it turns out mineral buildup had stuck one facet so he skipped over that and I had to do it. I mean, hello!, you work with the gal you are ripping off! This wasn’t my first run in with crappy contractors. My point is, while the work cost was tax deductible, it was still decided we would do it ourselves. Too many complex moving parts, her son-in-law would fix it and we would tackle everything else, skilled or practiced or not.
I am the worlds worst hands on guy. I swear and yell at inanimate objects and I have no intuition as to how things work together. I’m not a natural. But even then, DIY is preferable. Now what about all those schmucks out there that are seriously hurting for money because of debt and consumerism? At some point, it becomes the equivalent of the 1970’s and they will have no choice but to stop paying for easy crap like chopping wood or growing some of their vegetables. Hell, you know how easy it is to replace the toilet gasket and to patch drywall. I had no idea but the NOL walked me through it since she’s been doing this stuff for decades as they turned fixer-uppers into rentals.
If I can learn how to do this stuff, anyone can. I have a very unplumbed home, but I got that bitch slapped together with no idea what I was doing. On The Job Training. After all that easy stuff, people will be tackling harder tasks like plumbing and mechanics and whatever they need to learn. I don’t know how to sweep a chimney, but the rods and brushes are $66 and the rope harness is $23. I’d make a huge mess and break a part and dent a pipe, but I would, mostly, get it done cheaper. The next time I’d do it better. And if I can figure out how to shop on Amazon for tools to avoid a cost from a pro, anyone can figure it out.
Survivalists that reload ammunition, because it saves money over factory loads, think they can take up a trade that is essentially store bought ammunition? Your customers will learn how to reload! I’m not trying to crap on any dreams here, I’m trying to underscore a serious threat. Don’t start a business that folks can bypass by reloading. Right now, as they have the extra income they will pay you. They think they are broke, but really they simply can’t budget because they have no idea of the difference between needs and wants. They don’t WANT to learn a new unfamiliar skill. Hell, I know wants and needs, living like a bare assed savage, and even I fought learning bicycle mechanics for many years.
Once we understand the luxury of “wants”, all new possibilities emerge. We may want a pretty and easy pellet stove, starting at a grand, but some fire bricks and a repurposed BBQ grill ( small enough to catch the pellets ) and you have a pellet rocket stove. Cost, including some pipe, at less than a tenth of the manufactured model. If this works to save money on a tool, it could translate over to bypassing the services of a welder ( the steel rocket stoves are pretty and fun to build, but they aren’t necessary ). Did your central heat go out? You think they will be forced to pay for your services as a HVAC guy? If money is tight enough, they buy window AC’s and each room gets a radiator oil filled heater. Hell, we kept one going 24/7 while in the trailer park and it cost $50 a month, keeping a 35 foot trailer warn enough.
The problems today are far worse than in the 70’s, as far as being able to afford professionals. Back then, everything was oh so much cheaper, and wages were much higher ( purchasing power wise ). Now, you hire a guy and you must pay a portion of his higher rent, higher medical cost, higher liability, higher cost of transportation, higher cost of school and etc. It all adds up to a proportionally higher cost of services. It is a take it to the bank guarantee that folks will be doing everything they can to avoid the services cost, regardless of how unprofessional the results are going to be the first few times. Word to the wise.
END ( today's related link http://amzn.to/2nLgJvZ )
* By the by, all my writing is copyrighted. For the obtuse out there
I'm a long time hands on person and my curiosity in things keeps me going. Was going to change the spark plugs on my Blazer so I took a look to see what it involved. It is a 4.3 V6 engine and plug #3, all the way in the back on the drivers side is not even see able. I can see the wire boot but can barely get my hand back there to yank it. The new boots ain't like they were 40 years ago. They are HUGE. I looked it up and the problem with that plug is infamous. It requires anything from unhooking the motor mount and jacking the engine up to lowering the steering box after the tie rods are moved out of the way to recip sawing a "window" in the wheel well.ReplyDelete
Cars are built like mobile homes. In an inside controlled environment where all the parts are installed in "layers" with the idea that it will be very expensive to repair or replace anything. And don't forget the special (expensive) tools that are now required to work on any given repair, and then stored away in the toolbox forever.
My 91 S10 has the exact same engine and has small plug boots and I can easily get to that plug with no problem. My wife keeps telling me to get rid of the S10 but in the long haul it is probably better than the 2 newer vehicles we have. She has a Chev Equinox and I'm still not certain exactly where the battery is. Now how in the hell do you hide a 40 pound battery in a vehicle? Ask GM, they're experts. So changing out the battery on that thing means some one with knowledge will have to do it.
Go back one article when I said if you charge a dollar to repair a seam, nobody is going to buy a sewing machine to put you out of business. Some businesses are safer, like a mechanic. Mostly. Those things that can be done will. So that is a reduction in income rather than no income, for the mechanic. But like everyone, that mechanics costs are increasing. So is he much better off in the long run? Declining customer spending and increased costs. Better than NO customers, but not by much. It is merely a holding action. Not an insurmountable problem but one to keep an eye on.Delete
Save the Blazer as a source of S-10 parts. All SUV's are layered luxury crap over trucks, resulting in unrepairability and bad fuel economy with less actual "utility". But, the lizard-brain in the ladies says "safe and powerful!".Delete
If you are better-faster-cheaper than the initial learning to fix a thing (expensive-good clothes, 1/10 cost to repair), people will do it and pay. After a while, you get donations of stuff to repair and sell (1/3 new price for fully-repaired used item), making seamstress into retailer as well. Mechanics always have used vehicles to re-sell when customers can't pay.
The brain dead boys have the jacked up diesel pick-up's, desperately flooring it to try for some acceleration. Most of the SUV's are tiny gals. I would weep for humanity but that ship sailed long ago.Delete
When I was a kid, my grandfather wanted a garden well that was separate from his metered water. This was near the bay area, and even way back in the 70’s there was water rationing at the time. He got an older cousin of mine, and myself, and had us dig the hole using one of those contraptions that you spin, and keep adding lengths of pipe as you go. We hit water at 18’. He took over from there and installed the pump. I don’t know how he knew how to do this, but he did it, and it gave him decades of trouble free service.ReplyDelete
Here in Kalifornia it seems that all of the older cars have been removed from the road. But if need to rely on a car, and live in a state where you can still find an older car, this is the way to go. The older rear wheel drive cars are super simple to work on. Try to get one that’s early 70’s or older, since they have way less crap under the hoods to get in your way. Also try to pick a popular model that you will have no problem finding parts for.
I just finished putting up somewhere between 3 and 4 cords of oak from a fallen oak tree at my aunt’s property, and there’s much more left. Oddly enough our house furnace just went out. I asked my mother if she planned on calling an HVAC technician to come out, and she said that she’s not going to. While the other rooms in the house get cold, our woodstove does just fine keeping the main living room where the most time is spent, plenty warm.
Careful on the old car parts availability. My 1965 Hippie Bread Van uses a whole different type of brake. About double the cost. My 1975 Chevy 20 truck had parts ordered. Yes, I'm aware most rice burners can have this issue as inventories are lean. But my American car had a European supplier. I just LOVE depending on overseas parts suppliers ( note: I retired both from the road. Van about 2009 and truck about 2011 or there abouts ). My dad had an 80's rice bike he had terrible luck getting parts for. I know, I'm old when I think the 80's wasn't ancient history.Delete
Yes, you definitely want to make sure that you’re getting a popular model with good parts availability. But even if you have to spend some money up front in order to have a readily available inventory for certain hard to get items, you’re still money ahead, considering the cost of some of the modern cars. I just scratch my head in astonishment, when I see someone go out and drop $50k on a brand new 4 wheel drive pick up, considering that you can own a home outright in many states for that kind of money.Delete
I’m the minion that’s been considering getting a motorcycle for some time now. One day just for the heck of it, I looked up the parts availability for a certain motorcycle that I saw on Craigslist. It was an older bike, but a popular brand name Japanese bike. I found most of the parts for it, but noticed that while you could get a carburetor rebuild kit for it, they no longer sold carburetors for this particular bike, so you have to research this sort of thing before you buy.
Despite all of their problems, I’m considering a Chinese scooter. Parts are readily available, and they’re simple enough to work on yourself, unlike the more modern motorcycles. In a worse case scenario, you would have to drop $350 for a brand new 150cc motor. Amazon has most of the parts as well.
I was leery on the Chinese scooters, but when I found out Chilton had a manual I got all warm and fuzzy. It would make sense there was a ton of parts-the whole country over there must be swarming with them. I guess we should keep in mind Japan might not be a manufacture forever-I guess it would depend on how the next oil crisis plays out. Once/if they go-no more high quality machines.Delete
Speaking of old cars....you know how I met my wife? I bought a 70 Camaro in 1974 for $1495 and it had had 1 other owner, a girl I went to school with. It was basically a stock version with a 350 v8 and a 4 speed. I kept it at my dad's house when I was in the army for 4 years and continued to drive it after I got out.ReplyDelete
Well one day I was rebuilding the carter 4bbl carb and my wife had recently moved into a place 2 doors down. She was sitting in the sun in the backyard and watching me work on that thing, drink beer, smoke dope, and play loud classic rock thru a guitar amp. Finally she got up the nerve to come over and chat.
That Camaro was the last vehicle I did heavy repairs on myself, carb rebuild, clutch replacement, disc and drum brakes, valve covers, etc. My dad had taught me everything I knew plus the ability to figure stuff out. My next ride was a 79' Monza and I was working a new biz so I was paying pro's to work on my ride. Now, I can barely keep my riding mower running. I liked it when things were simpler. Oh yeah, she has outlasted all of my vehicles and though the mileage is getting high I'd still take her cross country. ;-)
Hell, I'd settle for an old computer OS. I can't believe we are right back where I started from having to buy a new machine every time the bastards change the OS ( at least if I want to stay online ). Well, I could go with Chrome, they auto update, but I can't do publishing with that. Anyway, I'm raising my own blood pressure. I liked your story. Good times, not because of youth, but of simpler times.Delete
My primary income is designing buildings and I do that with the 2004 version of the very expensive AutoCAD software. They don't sell it any more, subscription only, at about $150 a month - too expensive. My old software won't work on Win 10 so I have a 10 machine for getting online and an XP machine for my AutoCAD. FWIW, I bought this professionally refurbished DELL XP machine on amazon about 2 years ago for around $100. I'm gonna buy another one after christmas. It stopped being capable of going online earlier this year. Almost all browsers and email progs now refuse to play with XP.Delete
Damn, I thought my Windows-PDF converter at $2 a month was pricey. My entire web costs per month ( e-mail, website, converter ) are $8. Call it $300 income, so 1/40th income. Using AutoCAD I'd need to earn $6k a month to justify that, using the same formula ( I don't count Net access as there is always free wifi elsewhere ).Delete
Jim, A very good article. One of the things that make your blog head and shoulders(hair included) above other blogs is, you do not pretend to be an expert.ReplyDelete
"I am the worlds worst hands on guy. I swear and yell at inanimate objects and I have no intuition as to how things work together."
Thank you for your honesty.
I realized where we were headed about 10 years ago, and started making long term plans. One thing that I learned right away about myself and others - humans are lazy. I am lazy, I try to take the easy way out at all times. Sad, but true. Now, when I push myself to learn and do something myself, I feel sad thinking back about all the other times when I paid some one.
Soon, when things get really tough, we will wonder "who is our worst enemy?" All, most of us will have to do... is look in the mirror. Sad but true, I am trying to face and change this today, before tomorrow comes.
Keep the articles coming.
Damn good hair - you should be making shampoo commercials!
Wasn't it that Pogo cartoon that said something like "we have met the enemy and he is us"? It seems it takes you most of your live to realize this ( and, small consolation that lazy saves calories which is a survival mechanism ). Thanks for the kind words!Delete
So a decade or so back when I was stone broke and living out a tent on my land, and using a one speed bike to get back and forth to town 35 miles away (a whole morning to go up, four hours back with a load uphill) I decided to buy an old 1971 Honda 125 street bike for $350 on time payments. She was fairly solid and the guy put a homemade rack on the back. Wouldn't you know that thing still runs. Ive destroyed the shocks, tore up the tires, the seat is mouse nest material, but wouldn't you know no matter how many times I dumped it on the muddy trail hitting ruts from yehaw boys in diesel dualies, I could pick up the mud-ridden beast, gas and water pouring out of the carb, and just kick her over and she'd start right up. Ive been able to put my nastiest, oldest gas full of water from ethanol absorption into that bike, and unlike ANY other gas engine I own she would just fire right up. Granted, I cracked the custom rack by overloading her on her "grapes of Wrath " days hauling hundreds of pounds of food, supplies, chicken food, and Ive replaced her chain and sprocket a couple of times, and put on a back knobby for the spring mud season but there she goes again ready for another beating. On top of it all, she gets about 92 miles per gallon regular! Heavy as hell for the small displacement, the gearing is low and you cant top 50 mph safely and steering is sketchy but she's a trooper. If I saw one on ebay at an affordable price nowadays I wouldn't hesitate to grab another one. My little beast is finally gonna get an engine rebuild this spring, ten hard years later. A good heavy bike is ten times more dependable than any of those rickety scooters anyday.ReplyDelete
Hell, if I had that bike I wouldn't trade it straight up for a four wheel drive anything. Even if you had to buy a comparable today, it would be a lifetime investment.Delete
5:13 here. I’m sure that Niantic Wind is right, and that I’d be better off with a Japanese bike. I’ll keep an eye out in Craigslist for when the time comes. My biggest concern with an older Japanese bike was parts availability, but this probably isn’t as big of an issue as I think, as long as I choose a more popular model. Also, I’d need to get something much older as he had, so that I could work on it myself, probably nothing newer than the 1980’s. When you get into the newer bikes, it’s the same problem as with the newer cars, and you’re dealing with a lot of electronics and other complicated apparatus, that I don’t want to have to deal with.Delete
When I was researching mopeds I remember Honda having a big tire model for on/off road, and about the same price. Not saying it is what you want, but perhaps worth a look? They might have minimal electronics. Sorry, it was a year ago or so, not remembering details.Delete
Sounds like you might be referring to the old Trail 70’s Jim? The Trail 70’s and 50’s had the balloon tires, and also street lights (at least in the case of the 70’s). But if it were a newer Honda or Yamaha, it would be waaaaay out of my price range, and I probably wouldn’t want one anyways, because I probably couldn’t work on something so new. I’d like something that is big enough to go on the highway if I had to (Though I’d avoid doing so except in an emergency). An Enduro (combination street/off road) would be ideal, but I also don’t want to limit myself in my searches.Delete
I could have sworn it was a 49cc to avoid licensing, but I could be wrong.Delete
I’ll look into it Jim. The only problem with the 49cc, despite the advantage of not needing registration or insurance (In some places, though not here in the PRK) is that I can’t imagine where you would be able to use one? They only do 25mph, maybe 30mph all out. I suppose if you live in an area where you never need to exceed 25mph they will work, but even in the small town where I live, we have higher speed limits than this. I have heard that the 2 cycle 50cc scooters will give you a bit more speed, and that you can get up to 45mph, sometimes 50mph with them. Unfortunately they’re not allowed here in the PRK due to the california air board. These Kalifornia air board nazi’s crack me up! These idiots have actually argued that a scooter that isn’t CARB approved, puts out more emissions than a full size passenger vehicle!Delete
My ideas on mopeds are they substitute for a bicycle. The point wasn't speed but taking over for you once you get old. Didn't I remember something about supposedly the BBQ's and lawn mowers in LA were the major cause of pollution? I guess it's okay to be thought an idiot on your way to cash in a sweet paycheck.Delete
“My ideas on mopeds are they substitute for a bicycle. The point wasn't speed but taking over for you once you get old.”Delete
I see, that makes sense. I suppose that in my case, since you need to register and insure them anyways, I may as well get something a little bigger and faster.
Besides, if the post apocalyptic future is anything like it was in the road warrior, with dudes like Wez running around (recall that the feral kid took out his butt buddy with a boomerang; frontal lobotomy style 😲) I think I might want something a tad faster than a moped 😀
Yeh, it sounds like the workhorse bikes are just as good as mopeds on gas mileage, so you do get a huge upgrade. You could be running "mini-pickup truck" loads for your car-less neighbors.Delete