Am I tempting the powers that be? 8

Oh, the irony. In my last post I wrote about getting what you need, not what you want. Well, I’m writing this, sitting in my basement in a balmy 84 degrees while the HVAC guys are installing a new condenser and coils. Did I want a new Airco Unit? No. Do I need a new Airco unit? Yes, it is hot (and it will get even hotter next week). Am I tempting the powers that be, or did I prepare for all the right reasons?


I’m fairly technical so of course I tried to fix things myself. Me and my multi-meter soon figured out the breaker had kicked (took some effort finding the right breaker). Resetting the breaker didn’t do the trick. On to YouTube, to learn what it could be. Chances are it’s either the capacitor or the compressor. Capacitor would be good news, as it can easily be replaced. Compressor, bad, you’re screwed and need a new unit. Crash course on how to measure capacity (complimented of YouTube again) and verification the capacitor is okay. Crap, it’s probably the compressor.

So this is where my DIY stops and I call the expert. Yup, compressor is dead. Btw, my fault for not keeping the condenser unit clean. Of course my unit is old and the refrigerant it uses (r22) is being phased out so, unless I can find a supplier of an old r22 unit, I’m forced to have an entire new install, using the new R410 refrigerant. After two days of unbearable heat (or humidity I should say) we want it fixed. How much and more importantly when? Well somewhere around $3,100 and probably around next week Wednesday, but no guarantees on that date. What!!!!????

Angie’s List

Every month I see the $3.75 charge to Angie’s list and every month I bite my lip thinking I’m wasting $45 a year. Not yesterday. I can’t guarantee service but the reviews do give me piece of mind. I call the first service provider with tons of A+ reviews. “Sorry but we can’t help you until next week Tuesday”. This is where I get worried, will this last for over a week? Second company I call better news, they have someone in the neighborhood that come and give an estimate right away. Their initial meeting lives up to their A status. Let’s hope their installation is as good.

If you are looking for any service, Angie’s list is a good place to look (I am NOT an affiliate). They cost $3.75 a month and if need you can cancel at any time (You’ll have to actually call them to do so).

Oh and many providers have coupons. In the case of the provider currently working on  we settled on a price ($3,500) after which I mentioned angie’s list and the coupon. I like to think I save myself $100 dollars there. The brand of airco they are installing rates higher on consumer reports then the initial estimate so I justify the extra $300.

Emergency fund

Enter the emergency fund. When it rains they poor they say and boy,tempting the powers that be are they right. Having almost drowned in unexpected medical expenses earlier this year, now it’s the house’s turn to break down us. Luckily we’re prepared for this. I write extensively about how we manage our emergency fund. It’s invested and my make my point on why in Investing your emergency fund. How can you you invest you’re emergency fund? It should be fluid (whatever that means). Well, yesterday I sold enough shares to cover for the new airco, today I’ll pay the service provider by credit card and when my investment money clears in two days I will pay my credit card company.

To emphasize once more why I invest my emergency, here is some interesting math. I had to sell 17 share of SPY at $208. Those shares (first in/first out) where bought for $114. So the $1,938 (17×114) I invested back in 2010 is now paying for our $3,400 new Airco. You’ll find some more of this math when applied to last years medical expenses.

Lessons of today

It seems that if you prepare for disastrous medical bills you’ll be faced with them, but that could just be my superstition. Prepare for the worst and the worst will come, right?

If you can fix it yourself try to do so. I find that everything you ever need to know can be found on YouTube. Keep it safe though. Trained technicians can probably do it better but more importantly they know where the dangers lie. YouTube videos don’t always tell you about those.

Angie’s list for is is a life saver for us. I wouldn’t have known were else to start looking for a new AC. The cost of Angie’s list is $3.75 per month but you can sign up and cancel at any time. Do us all a favor and do leave a review of the services you’ve received.

Keep an emergency fund. You do now want to get stuck not being able to pay (or pay exorbitant amounts of interest) when something goes awry. You may not be as comfortable as i investing your fund but at least have one.

Good luck reaching your financial goals

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About Maarten van Lier

Maarten came to this country with a suitcase and a diploma. He created a financial plan and goal to become a millionaire in 10 years. He successfully turned his financial goals into reality, wrote a book about it and now blogs actively in hope of inspiring other to do the same.

8 thoughts on “Am I tempting the powers that be?

  • Mrs Groovy

    Sorry to hear the bad news, Maartin. The good news is that you have an emergency fund. Also – that $3,100 quote sounds very reasonable to me. A few years ago we had to replace a unit in a rental and got a low end Trane or $4000.

    Have you thought about getting a maintenance contract for your A/C? We have a local guy who comes twice a year – before the summer to clean the compressor and check all parts, then before the winter to check the furnace. We’re happy with his service and believe proper maintenance extends the life of these units. The contract is $169/year.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      I guess sooner or later I had to get the unit replaced anyways but you hate to get forced into it. I’m very much a do it yourself guy. I diagnosed the unit to the point where I couldn’t do anymore. Had it been a faulty capacitor or fan unit I could probably have gotten a few more years out of it. $169 per year for two service calls sounds like a pretty good deal considering that is what it pretty much cost me for the first contractor to tell me it was broken.

  • James

    A great case for maintaining a robust emergency fund. Particularly when you’re talking abut homeownership, a need always arises. Hopefully this will not be a case of bad things coming in threes.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thx, yes threes would be bad although I’m already concerned about a considerable drop in water pressure over the last 6 months. Wouldn’t shock me if I’m in need of a whole new water softener/filter system 🙁 (or worse clogged up pipes).

  • Mrs Groovy

    FYI, we had a gradual drop in pressure and all it took was an adjustment to a valve outside and some testing. We were referred to a good plumber who didn’t try to sell us anything. It was just $75 for his time. If the part needed replacing it would have been the cost of the part and his time. Nothing crazy – other plumbers would charge 3X as much and probably immediately advise on the replacement, not the fix.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      We have a well system. The pressure tank is at the proper pressure. The line to the outside (hardly used) works great, the line inside drops which indicates there is mineral buildup inside the pipes (I timed the flow on each faucet/head in the house). We might investigate the use of chemicals or a replacement. Either one will require professionals.

  • Derek @

    Wow – an unanticipated $3,400 cost would blow many folks out of the water as they live paycheck to paycheck. Good thing you had your emergency fund going strong! It’s always nice when your investment assets also nearly double in price 🙂

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      Thx, yes that kind of money is too much for many. It’s only a quarter of what we had to pay last year in medical expenses. As happy as I am we built this emergency fund I get that for most, living paycheck to paycheck, this is not feasible. Investing our emergency fund, as controversial is it may sound, does indeed lessen the blow.

      Authors always often write about emergency funds telling you to build a 6 month reserve and then assume the emergency will happen right away. Emergencies sometime will wait years to strike (if you’re lucky, never). It would kill me to see that money sit in a savings account depreciating due to inflation.

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