One thing that my wife and I discovered as we examined our finances looking for ways to spend less, is that there are many things that we spend money on every day that we could cut the cost if we did it ourselves. Individually they may not be a huge windfall, but cumulatively they can add up. Sometimes it’s simply a change to decide to just do it, while others require the learning of a new skill. I’d like to share with you those new skills as I learn them.
Introducing the Clever Dudes Are Self Reliant series!
In this very first edition we’ll explore something that we all have to have done at some point: change a burnt out car headlight. When I have a light out, I’m usually notified by the employee at the express lube place as I’m getting my oil changed (another potential subject of the series!). That statement is normally followed up with a generous offer to have the bulb changed for the low price of $19.95. Normally I’d accept their offer, but not this time! I’m an intelligent and resourceful kind of guy, so I figured I’d take a crack at changing the bulb myself.
Not having a clue how go about accomplishing my task, I did what any self-respecting male does when beginning any job relating to a car. I popped the hood and stared at the engine. When I was satisfied that this action would not bestow upon me the knowledge of how to change the lamp, I retrieved the owner’s manual from the glove compartment and scanned the table of contents for instructions. Luckily for me, there was a section that detailed step by step instructions.
Out With the Old
The first step was to remove two screws that mounted the headlight assembly to the frame. I removed one without incident, but the second one slipped out of my hand and fell into the engine compartment. I heard the ting of the metal screw landing somewhere, but I couldn’t locate where. New tasks are normally rife with opportunity to practice creative use of curse words, and this one was no different. After a few minutes of searching, I gave up, intending to look for it again later.
I completed the removal of the assembly and light bulb without further incident and headed to my local Walmart in search of a replacement bulb.
In With the New
Putting in the new bulb was the easy part. I put the headlight unit back together, and tried to put it back into it’s place. I tried for about 15 minutes, but couldn’t seem to get it right. The screw holes were lined up, but the bottom of the headlight unit just seemed to stick out too far. I shoved, and pushed, and even hit it once or twice but it just wouldn’t stay where I thought it needed to be. I pulled out my flashlight, wondering if something might be in the way, preventing the headlight unit from being seated correctly. As I moved the light across the frame of the car, the lost screw came into my line of vision. I gently reached in and grabbed it.
Suddenly, things were looking up.
I decided to put the headlight into place the best I could, and then put the screws back in. Once I tightened the screws, the headlight was seated correctly!
If you’ve never changed a headlight before, I would suggest the following to give you the best change of success:
- Look for instructions in your owner’s manual
- Read completely through the instructions before beginning.
- Read completely through the instructions before beginning. I repeated myself on purpose. Do it!
- Gather ALL the tools you will need to perform the task.
- Get a bucket or some other container to hold all the screws and pieces you will remove
- Before you begin, carefully inspect what it’s supposed to look like. Write it down if you have to
- Go slowly, and work carefully.
- Make notes and keep them. You’ll thank yourself the next time you have to perform the same task.
The bulb cost me $8.88, and it took me all together about 40 minutes to change the bulb. Next time it will go much faster since I know what I’m doing. That’s a savings of about $11. Not a huge amount of money, but the more self-reliant I am, the more I save. Plus, I have the satisfaction of having done something I’ve never done before.
How about you, fellow clever people? Have you learned a new skill recently that has saved you money?