GEARHEAD DIARY: “Buy more, save more!”

PHOTO BY MATT BARTMANN 16-year-old chainsaw still works fine.

by Matt Bartmann
North Forty News

“Save money by spending more!”

A message that we commonly hear from our friends in the advertising industry. I never liked that message. I’m still not fond of it. To spend and to save are at opposite ends of the commercial spectrum. Sometimes, though, that saying is actually true.

In my teen years, our family lived in town. But we spent weekends in the hills where I’d grown up, and every Saturday in the summer and fall included a few hours of gathering firewood. My dad would get the chainsaw sharpened, gassed and oiled. And he’d make sure it would start before setting out to get a truckload of wood.

Sometimes the old saw simply would not start. Period. Music to my adolescent ears, knowing there would be no wood cutting that day, as frustrating as it was to my dad.

I liked spending time outside; I did not like getting firewood, important as I knew it was.

Fifteen years later, I had a meeting scheduled: 1 p.m. at some financial joint, to close the deal on the property in the hills that my wife and I now call home, near where I grew up. I’d arranged not to work that day and the following Friday, so I could pick up supplies to get the new (old and vacant) place habitable over the extended weekend.

The morning before that closing, I was out gathering stuff. Nonperishable groceries, cleaning supplies, some batteries. Lights and a radio. Final stop? Davenport Power Equipment for a chainsaw.

I had to get a chainsaw. And I wanted one that I could depend on. To the chainsaw store I went, and plopped down almost $400 for a new Husqvarna. That was a pretty expensive chainsaw, but it’s what I wanted. Normally, I’d buy used stuff, often in need of refurbishment, but a chainsaw is a necessary tool, and I did not want to share in my dad’s frustration brought about by questionable reliability.

A couple of years later, I met a fellow online with similar mechanical interests. We’ve been friends since. Like me, he tends to buy quality used machines in need of repair, rather than inexpensive new alternatives. More bang for the buck.

Until recently. Having been in the market for a good pickup, he’s purchased a few decent used heavy-duty trucks, but none were exactly The Right Truck. Wrong cab, wrong bed, wrong engine/transmission, etc. And they needed work. They got him by, but….

A few weeks ago, he threw in the towel. He bought a brand new truck. The Right Truck. With a warranty. He won’t have to fiddle with a cantankerous truck for many years to come. $50k and change was a hefty price to pay for that peace of mind, but it’s worth it to him to have the right tool for the job and not have to worry about it anymore.

Last week, I got an invitation to attend his “Chainsaw Massacre” gathering. He and his wife need to clear some trees on their property and invited qualified friends. I had to send regrets, but I appreciated and respected the invitation. He knows I’ve got a good chainsaw. Now 16 years old, that old Husky still works great, having required only routine maintenance.

Sometimes, buying stuff does save money.


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