Dumb Financial Decisions: The Water Heater

While I like to think I am an intelligent person, who usually makes good financial decisions, like everyone else, I make mistakes.

The @#$%^&* Water Heater

When our family bought our home in 2011, I encountered something I had never experienced before: the previous owners rented the water heater from the local utility, and paid them on a monthly basis for the privilege of using it.

This seemed odd to me, as although water heaters are expensive, most are priced well below $1,000. The furnace, the central air, and even some of the kitchen appliances were more expensive than the water heater, and they weren’t being rented.

There must be some benefit to renting the water heater, rather than owning it, I thought to myself. Perhaps if the water tank failed and leaked all over my basement, the utility would be responsible for the damages as the owner?

Nope, it wasn’t that.

The rental agreement from the utility clearly stated they “are not liable for any costs, injuries, or damage incurred by water damage from your water heater.”

“Well this is dumb,” I thought. “I need to buy a water heater and send that rental back as soon as possible.”

And then we got busy unpacking.

And furnishing the house.

And getting to know our new neighborhood.

Five and a half years later, I am still renting that @#$%^&* water heater.

I have now been renting the water heater for 67 months, at $19.50 per month.

Meaning that I have spent over $1,300 renting the water heater at this point.

Plus taxes.

A quick trip to homedepot.com shows me several dozen suitable replacement options for our home.

Most of which are priced between $500 and $800.

I am an idiot.

Purchasing and installing a new water heater is now at the top of my “to do” list.

Let’s hope I get to it before the rental starts leaking and – speaking of dumb financial decisions – destroys the baseball card collection I’ve been hauling from home to home for over two decades.

Baseball Cards
Retirement Plan Circa 1990

As a teenager, I thought my baseball card collection might someday pay for my retirement.

The last time I checked, it appeared that my collection might be able to pay for a nice night out on the town for Mrs. ROMT and I with a few friends.

Assuming I could actually find someone to pay me cold hard cash for tens of thousands of small pieces of cardboard printed primarily in the 1980s and 1990s.

I’m not going to hold my breath.

We all make mistakes, in our finances, and every other area of our lives.

One way we can measure success is by how we learn from those mistakes.

As soon as I post this entry, I’m ordering a replacement water heater. Once I have it installed, I will finally get out from under that rental contract with the local utility.

The new water heater will probably pay for itself in less than three years compared to the rental.

And then hopefully give me almost a decade of additional service for free.

But, just so you know, I’m probably not doing anything with my baseball card collection right now.

Sorry Mrs. ROMT.

What poor financial decisions do you keep making, and why?

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