Frustrated Frugality

I can, in some cases, be exceedingly careful and frugal with my money; not all the time or I’d be considerably more well-off.  I set the thermostat at 80 in the summer and 65 in the winter.  I save the clean water that runs while it gets hot and use it to fill the dog bowls.  I saved spare change and increased my downpayment on my own home by 1.5%, enough to put me in a different category for PMI. 

Then the lid caves in on the septic tank in my rental property, and I discover it’s possible to spend $1500 before 9 AM on a Monday morning.  That’s hard to do.  House closings don’t start that early.  Stores that sell expensive merchandise don’t open that early.  Car dealers aren’t open before 9 AM.  The repair person showed up with a backhoe at 6 AM and the new tank was delivered at 7 and a good bit of the dirt was pushed back by 9 and I signed the check and they all left.  I suppose I could offer the fill dirt for sale, but not until the earth pushed into the old tank has thoroughly settled, and it takes a LOT more dirt than I have on hand to make up a $1500 bill.

It may have been possible to prevent this problem.  The last owner of the house told me where the tank was.  We took her word for that and carefully avoided parking on that part of the yard.  She was wrong.  The current tenant has parked where the tank actually was, and eventually, the lid cracked, taking enough of the tank with it to prevent repair by replacing just the lid. An entirely new tank, taking up a huge section of the yard was the only solution.

There is no discount fix for a broken septic tank.  There is no DIY solution, either.  The only answer is writing big checks to people who have access to and know how to use big equipment.  I am practicing gratitude, for knowing plumbers who return calls, who know the guys that can replace septic tanks, who show up ready to work at 6:00 AM on a Monday morning, even if that means they’re operating a backhoe before I have a chance to mark the gas line.  I can try more gratitude for its being July, so the gas was not flowing at the time the backhoe sliced through the line.

I don’t want to say “now I’ve replaced every system in that house,” because it’s still running on its first central air conditioning unit.  But when I read David Giffels’ All the Way Home, I could identify.  It’s never done.  There’s only so much money you can save.

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