Money Talks, So Should You

Nerd on the Cheap: Is time money?

Owen O'Riordan
by Owen O'Riordan , Dimespring 30 (@OwenJOR)

When I bought my house, I knew it need some (lots) of work. Initially, it wasn’t bad. The bathtubs needed refinishing, the upstairs apartment only needed some minor drywall patches and a gallon of paint, the carpets were in need of some TLC, and the plumbing worked well, even though it was probably installed by M.C. Escher.

I knew that I could get a lot of that work done on the cheap (my dad has a lot of handy friends), and with the timeline in my head, I would have moved in last month. But reality intervened and I slowly realized that my timeline may not work out.

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It turns out that a full-time job prevents you from working full time on your investment property. And since I’m not Batman, I spend my nights in bed scared of crime  not working. So I’ve had to splurge and get some professionals to do the work. After all time is money, right?

I realized after the second week of painting that in the long run it’s better to pay the professionals to get the job done better and faster. Luckily my dad was ahead of the game (he’s been down this road before), so we got the right guys to do the work for a little more than I anticipated.

Originally, I had a small, fleeting hope that my budget would remain intact. But like any good HGTV watcher, I knew that my budget was more like a wish list. And I knew that getting the work done right would probably cost more than I’d like to admit. It just adds to the lesson I learned when I bought my house  plans shouldn’t dictate your life. Always be ready to adjust for what you can’t predict.

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And I’ve made those adjustments. Originally my dad and I were going to do most of the plumbing, but a 500 lb., 104-year-old toilet stack made us change our minds. When some workers ruined my carpets, I made the decision to just get rid of them  and the results are incredible if a little pricey.

The more I do, the more it seems that I never even had a plan. How would I know that I would have to replace most of the plumbing? And how could I have known that I would totally have the time to paint every room? Most importantly, how would I have known that throwing out clothes, sorting through family photos and getting rid of furniture would take the better part of a month?

What it really boils down to is time vs. cost. I can paint (not very well) while the other parts of the house are being worked on. Or I can pay a professional to get it done quick and write another check. It’s quite the conundrum.


Owen O'Riordan is 24 years old and constantly looking for work. He is a copywriter by day, nerd by night (most of day too). Owen is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and attitudes on personal finance.