A serious question here…without an answer. Does anyone have the mathematical equation?
Over the last few weeks, my garage door opener has been acting up. Door goes up…won’t come down. Goes up half way…won’t open at all. In my expert “garage door opener” opinion, I decide it’s probably the opener. I’ve used the door before, so I’m pretty sure this is a no brainer.
I drove down to Home Depot, purchased the latest-and-greatest Genie model and began screwing it together. Never mind that I know nothing about the difference between a “screw drive” and “chain drive” opener. I figured I could get this thing done easily. Since I had installed my previous garage door opener, I though, “Hey, I can do this!”
After six hours of tinkering, I was ready for the test run: Hit the button…drum roll please…and viola! It opened!
Press the button again…it’s going down, down, aaannndddd….stopped. Half way down. Six hours of work (or rather six hours of not working) and it’s still as broken as it was before I began on this project.
Advice From a Friend: Call the Professional
A friend happened to stop by and while we were playing around with it, suggested I call a professional. I had been convinced I could do this without help! I really wanted to be able to do it right! But, alas, I finally had to wave the white flag and admit: I have no clue what I’m doing. So I sheepishly make the call. The door guy came by right away and strode like John Wayne into my garage. You should’ve seen his face and head shake as he saw each and every tool I owned spread across the garage floor helter-skelter.
I began to explain the problem, what it would and wouldn’t do, blah, blah, and he’s not even listening. He grabbed the door, shook it, lifted it, and it slammed down.
Without even asking if I would stop talking he cut me off and said, “The spring is broken. Gonna be $289 plus $35 per ½ hour labor. Oh, and your garage door opener is broken. That’s another $450, but that includes labor…and it’s the best opener on the market. We take check or credit card and I can be out of here in under an hour. OK?”
What’s the Cost of Pride?
I now know the cost of my pride:
$250 for the “new” but now broken garage door opener,
$450 for the new one I now have to buy.
Oh, and here’s the best part: The old one hadn’t even been broken.
I can only laugh at the irony: I plead with people every day to outsource their crucial financial decisions to a professional: and sometimes I can’t even take my own advice.
When’s the Right Time?
Is a broken garage door the right thing to call a pro over? When is it time to call in experts? What’s the ultimate cost? In my case I would have saved the cost of the two new openers and just replaced the spring for $289. But our financial lives are much more complex, aren’t they?
The truth is, a lot of people can do their own simple financial planning and investment work, but statistically, most don’t. Sometimes we hire professionals to do work because we don’t want to do it (mowing the lawn, house cleaning, etc.) and other times we hire a pro because we don’t know how (taxes, mortgages, etc.) and then there are times we need to hire a pro so we don’t screw it up (garage door openers). Don’t let pride get in the way of accomplishing the goal: a fee or commission is a small price to pay for goal attainment.
…but I still think I would have been happier if I’d been able to fix the door myself.
When do you call in the pros? When do you DIY?
Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies says
Great timing, OG! Our garage door is being a little goofy these days, but Mr. PoP is going to tinker with it. The door and automatic opener is 29 years old, and has already had some tinkering which kept it going this long… so if we kill it, it’s not the end of the world. But the hypothesis is that it’s the capacitor! Mr. PoP will have some fun soldering at the very minimum since caps are usually pretty cheap. =)
sorry to hear that! I tend to think no one has my best interests at heart in the case of finances but the truth is an adviser will be way more knowledgeable about tax breaks and other ways to optimize my finances. It is just about finding a good one.
My Financial Independence Journey says
I will readily admit that I’m about as handy as a sack of potatoes. Maybe a bit less. This is one of the reasons why I rent. I just call the office and they take care of everything. Even easier than looking up a reputable professional and contacting them myself.
Budget and the Beach says
OH man I feel frustrated FOR you! I think it’s knowing oneself. For instance putting together Ikea furniture (or any furniture-or anything where I have to read directions, let’s face it) is something where I’d first call a knowledgable friend, but if that didn’t work I would use a professional. I know I get too frustrated and would end up in a pile of tears. Also for me an accountant is crucial. I would never in a million years do my own taxes as a freelancer, but when I was working full time I did my own taxes because it was easy then.
In my experience? When my wife complains loudly enough, I can’t find enough videos on Youtube, or it’ll take way too long for just one man. I’ve only run into #1 & #3 since we bought this place, though, haha. #1 is the dangerous one.
Grayson @ Debt RoundUp says
I hate when that happens. It is a real quick to the pride. I always try to do something once if I have the general knowledge of how to complete the project. If I don’t know, I will try to learn or will call the pros.
Caesar F says
It’s kind of tough to call because every type of tutorial video is online now so it’s like what you ask when do you get a professional.
I love personal finance, so researching and implementing my strategy is fun for me.
As for DIY, if its auto repairs or requires a blow torch I won’t touch it. I had a scary incident after I fixed some brakes.
I’ll do cosmetic things and basic electric. Anything that’s beyond my scope I usually let pros do their thing.
I have practically no DIY skills. Instead, I have great skills at finding the best least expensive workmen.
Anything that might electrocute me or involves sewage gets a call to a professional. As for my finances, I really would like to find a good advisor, but my first attempt didn’t go so well, so I’m a bit hesitant about the whole thing. The few bad apples out there really ruin it for all the good guys.
DC @ Young Adult Money says
The thought of my garage door breaking strikes fear in me…okay that was a bit dramatic, but it would suck if it broke because it’s just another relatively big expense to fix.
I don’t blame you for trying to DIY, and I think in many cases you can save money DIY. I tried to install a new toilet in our basement but it took much longer than I expected and had to have my brother-in-law (who is a contractor) come in and see what I was doing wrong. It’s a really crappy setup, not level at all, and very “old school” with no flange so it was beyond my amateur abilities. Sometimes trying to DIY can backfire, but I think in most cases it can save you money and teach you a lesson or two 😉
Great points on a tricky call. Great post!
Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin says
Oh man! We had a very similar problem the other day. Luckily for me my brother in law owns his own garage door business. I laughed out loud when you talked about him strutting in there like John Wayne because that’s the exact “swagger” he had when he came to our house.
At this point in my life if doing something myself is going to end up taking time away from my family or severely frustrating me I just pay the cash and grunt.
If there is one thing I’m not worried about and that is calling in the professional and paying to get the job right. As much as I’d like to be a know-it-all jack of all trades but reality is, I’m far from it. The last thing I want to do is waste my time and money on something I already have a pretty good idea I don’t know how to do. Sometimes money is well spent when we hand it over to a pro. Great post.
101 Centavos says
Man’s got to know his limitations. Replace a faucet? I got that one. Replace a water heater? Plumber time.
Tie the Money Knot says
Saving money thru DIY can be motivating and there’s a sense of accomplishment to doing some things on our own. Having said that, I think that if one doesn’t have the skills to do things right – or in a way that the money saved will be worth the time invested – there need not be any shame in hiring someone to do the work. I have a post on deck on this topic…