So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
LiterallyIronic
Posts: 791
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:36 am

So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by LiterallyIronic » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:44 pm

We have just about beefed our emergency fund up to where we want it (we'll be there after my next paycheck). So we can finally start knocking out the problems we have. Unfortunately there are so many moving parts that it's causing analysis paralysis. Which of these would rise to the top of your to-do list?

Inside
Water main valve: It is down under the house, very inaccessible.
Water pressure regulator: Needed, apparently. From our home inspection before purchase, our water pressure is too high.
Dishwasher: Don't have one. Been washing dishes by hand. Fine for me, but exacerbates wife's eczema, so she wears rubber gloves.
Insulation: One wall of the house is at R2. Makes for a cold room and poor efficiency.
Door weather stripping: Front door's weather stripping is missing. Heat escapes.
Bathroom fan/vent: We shower with the window open in order to avoid condensation getting on the walls/ceiling.
Curtains: Mostly missing. We only have them in the bedrooms.

Outside
Shed: Current one is a big pile of rust that I don't even want to go in for fear of tetanus, so all our tools sit on our (covered) back patio.
Driveway: Cracks resulting in portions offset by an inch or two, which makes it very difficult to shovel snow (and is something of a tripping hazard). Also angled poorly - the Corolla has difficulty getting into the driveway without scraping the undercarriage.
Trimmer: We have a lawn mower, but need to be able to get edges, near tree trunks, etc.
Shovel: Needed to remove unwanted stepping stones in the yard.
Swamp cooler: Rusting. Needs rust remover and rust-resistant paint.

Car (some are the Stratus; some are the Corolla)
Clock radio: Broken. No time displayed and no functioning radio/tape.
Horn: Breaking. Technically works maybe 25% of the time.
Passenger window: Stuck. Can't roll it down.
Back door handle. Broken. Right back door cannot be opened from the inside.

Electronics
NES: Broken. No audio or video.
SNES: Breaking. Only one controller port works.
8-port composite switch: Can be used by jerry-rigging it with tape.
Blu-ray player: Discs, even new ones, stutter a time or two per movie. The player took a hard fall during moving.
My cell phone: 30 minute battery life when calling; 10 minute battery life when using the Internet; very little reception and most calls drop.
Wife's cell phone: Functions fine for calling/texting, but can no longer use data (wi-fi works) or check voicemail.
Wife's laptop: Ancient. Very slow. Poor battery life. And she's always hated it because she didn't know it didn't have the Lenovo "dot".

User avatar
Pajamas
Posts: 6015
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:32 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by Pajamas » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:52 pm

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:44 pm
Water pressure regulator: Needed, apparently. From our home inspection before purchase, our water pressure is too high.
Insulation: One wall of the house is at R2. Makes for a cold room and poor efficiency.
Door weather stripping: Front door's weather stripping is missing. Heat escapes.
Bathroom fan/vent: We shower with the window open in order to avoid condensation getting on the walls/ceiling.
Horn: Breaking. Technically works maybe 25% of the time.
All of the items above will either save you money or prevent costly problems. I would prioritize those that could cause costly problems, starting with the car horn and the water pressure regulator. The front door weatherstripping is not expensive and you can do it yourself.
Swamp cooler: Rusting. Needs rust remover and rust-resistant paint.
If the rust will shorten the useful life, then you can do it yourself. Otherwise, let it rust.

User avatar
buccimane
Posts: 238
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:34 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by buccimane » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:59 pm

Door weather stripping, your cellphone, and a dishwasher would be at the top of my list...

Cellphone: Replacing the battery may save cost.. Plenty of deals and options in regards to a new phone that should make this relatively painless.
Dishwasher: I loathe doing the dishes... That's why it would be at the top of my list
Door weather stripping: probably should be done first.. seems like the quickest way to save $ on this list.


Lowest Priority:

Shed: viable alternative currently in use
Trimmer: can be substituted by weed whacker
Passenger Window: Probably the lowest priority. I believe door windows are expensive to fix.
A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still

CantPassAgain
Posts: 577
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:49 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by CantPassAgain » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:05 pm

Water pressure regulator would be my #1 priority. A washer hose busting and flooding your house while you are away will end up being VERY expensive.

User avatar
Snert
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:06 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by Snert » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:05 pm

You might consider Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which places priority on air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, sleep, clothing and shelter. In fact, you're far ahead of many in the world if you reliably have access to all of those things. With all those things reliably covered, I'd probably focus on safety and transportation to and from work so I can earn income.

There's a great book, called The One Thing, by Gary Keller, that advises asking the following question when prioritizing: "What's the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?". With that in mind, what do you think the first thing on your list should be next? Do that!

Lastly, consider ranking each item on your list for "urgency" and "importance". It's smart to focus on the things that are both urgent and important first. For things that are important, but not urgent, all you need is a plan - the issue itself can wait. For the things that are urgent, but not important, perhaps those can be handled by someone else, or simply ignored. For the issues that are neither urgent nor important (game systems?), you might consider dropping them off your list altogether.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
Never give up, never surrender!

quantAndHold
Posts: 1760
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:16 pm

When you have a house that needs a lot of stuff, develop a plan that you’ll execute over time, so hat you can budget for it. In general, proceed in this order...
  • safety
  • issues that will cause more expensive maintenance/repair bills if not fixed
  • things that will save money
  • cosmetics and upgrades
Within that list, do the things that will cause cosmetic issues before things that fix cosmetic issues. You want all the patching and painting to happen last.

In your house list, none of that stuff needs to be done immediately, but the water pressure regulator and swamp cooler could cause big repair bills, so I would do those first, and have the valve moved while the plumber is there.

bh7785
Posts: 90
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:57 am

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by bh7785 » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:29 pm

Sounds to me like the NES and SNES should be priority items.

Gretchen
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:48 am
Location: Southern CA

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by Gretchen » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:37 pm

I recommend a behavioral approach.

1) Pick something relatively inexpensive that will make both of you happy. Do that first to reward yourselves for getting the emergency fund done, and to establish some momentum.
2) Alphabetize your list. Then examine it and see if any of the ordering makes you really unhappy or doesn't make sense. "Oh, I really don't want to wait months for a new laptop." "Oh, I don''t want to do X improvement because we'll just tear it out in a bigger repair soon after." Let these insights inform your final planning.
3) Then re-order according to the good advice from the earlier posters.

adamthesmythe
Posts: 2272
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by adamthesmythe » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:40 pm

A good general rule is that things involving water are more important. Especially if they involve roofs or indoor plumbing leaks. This sort of thing should be addressed using the emergency fund even if it isn't full.

A fair number of repair issues can be deferred. It's really important to know which ones. Ask yourself: is this likely to cost me a lot more later?

mortfree
Posts: 1261
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:06 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by mortfree » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:45 pm

Assuming you are going to hire a plumber to do the water pressure and water main - you may want to lump in the dishwasher and even the bathroom vent/fan... (and if there is anything else you need a plumber for).

Door weather stripping should be a DIY job.

might be time for new cell phones. if you have a major carrier, consider switching to their no contract version (i.e. Sprint has Boost Mobile or Virgin Mobile, Verizon has one, AT&T has one - I just don't know the names/affiliation - Cricket comes to mind).

good luck.

Dottie57
Posts: 4457
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by Dottie57 » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:48 pm

bh7785 wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:29 pm
Sounds to me like the NES and SNES should be priority items.

What is an NES , SNES?

daveydoo
Posts: 1564
Joined: Sun May 15, 2016 1:53 am

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by daveydoo » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:49 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:52 pm
LiterallyIronic wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:44 pm
Water pressure regulator: Needed, apparently. From our home inspection before purchase, our water pressure is too high.
Insulation: One wall of the house is at R2. Makes for a cold room and poor efficiency.
Door weather stripping: Front door's weather stripping is missing. Heat escapes.
Bathroom fan/vent: We shower with the window open in order to avoid condensation getting on the walls/ceiling.
Horn: Breaking. Technically works maybe 25% of the time.
All of the items above will either save you money or prevent costly problems. I would prioritize those that could cause costly problems, starting with the car horn and the water pressure regulator. The front door weatherstripping is not expensive and you can do it yourself.
This is good advice. I can't do any better.
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

curmudgeon
Posts: 1585
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:00 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by curmudgeon » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:50 pm

If the house has gone many years without a water pressure regulator, it will probably survive a few more. A lot of stuff off of home inspection reports is not all that critical. Don't forget it entirely, but I wouldn't fret that much. Pick one "utility" item to get done, then after finishing it, give yourselves one "personal gratification" item.

41Fin
Posts: 87
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:01 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by 41Fin » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:52 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:48 pm
bh7785 wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:29 pm
Sounds to me like the NES and SNES should be priority items.

What is an NES , SNES?
Nintendo Entertainment System & Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

SimonJester
Posts: 1629
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by SimonJester » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:55 pm

Are you new to your house? It sounds like it... Some of these things are easy to fix / do and you should take this as an opportunity to learn basic home repair. Youtube is your friend here...
LiterallyIronic wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:44 pm
Inside
Water main valve: It is down under the house, very inaccessible. This is more complex of a fix, might need to hire a plumber but I would get the done
Water pressure regulator: Needed, apparently. From our home inspection before purchase, our water pressure is too high. What is the pressure, how high it too high, this is a priority and could be combined with the previous job
Dishwasher: Don't have one. Been washing dishes by hand. Fine for me, but exacerbates wife's eczema, so she wears rubber gloves.Add to the nice to have in the future list
Insulation: One wall of the house is at R2. Makes for a cold room and poor efficiency. Fix this, but this could be a major pain if it involved tearing out drywall.
Door weather stripping: Front door's weather stripping is missing. Heat escapes.This is an easy one to fix yourself
Bathroom fan/vent: We shower with the window open in order to avoid condensation getting on the walls/ceiling. Add to the nice to have in the near future, if you have attic access and know how to do electrical wiring work this can be a DIY job.
Curtains: Mostly missing. We only have them in the bedrooms.Easy fix do it your self, make your own or buy

Outside
Shed: Current one is a big pile of rust that I don't even want to go in for fear of tetanus, so all our tools sit on our (covered) back patio. Replace in the future
Driveway: Cracks resulting in portions offset by an inch or two, which makes it very difficult to shovel snow (and is something of a tripping hazard). Also angled poorly - the Corolla has difficulty getting into the driveway without scraping the undercarriage. This will be your biggest expense, get three quotes now so you know how much to save for...
Trimmer: We have a lawn mower, but need to be able to get edges, near tree trunks, etc. You will need this, goto Big box store and purchase
Shovel: Needed to remove unwanted stepping stones in the yard. $20 at the big box store, pickup with weather stripping, and trimmer
Swamp cooler: Rusting. Needs rust remover and rust-resistant paint.again at big box store grab a can of swamp cooler paint and paint it

Car (some are the Stratus; some are the Corolla)
Clock radio: Broken. No time displayed and no functioning radio/tape. not needed, ever
Horn: Breaking. Technically works maybe 25% of the time. needed most of the time, try youtube and forums, but watch out messing with steering wheel if you have an air bag
Passenger window: Stuck. Can't roll it down. Youtube or forget it
Back door handle. Broken. Right back door cannot be opened from the inside. Corolla? Mine did as well, buy replacement online its an easy fix

Electronics
NES: Broken. No audio or video. Dump it
SNES: Breaking. Only one controller port works. Dump it
8-port composite switch: Can be used by jerry-rigging it with tape. Network switch? Buy replacement
Blu-ray player: Discs, even new ones, stutter a time or two per movie. The player took a hard fall during moving. Time for a PS4
My cell phone: 30 minute battery life when calling; 10 minute battery life when using the Internet; very little reception and most calls drop.Replace phone or battery
Wife's cell phone: Functions fine for calling/texting, but can no longer use data (wi-fi works) or check voicemail. try factory reset, backup data first
Wife's laptop: Ancient. Very slow. Poor battery life. And she's always hated it because she didn't know it didn't have the Lenovo "dot".
Save for new one once other priorities are covered
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

quantAndHold
Posts: 1760
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:56 pm

curmudgeon wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:50 pm
If the house has gone many years without a water pressure regulator, it will probably survive a few more. A lot of stuff off of home inspection reports is not all that critical. Don't forget it entirely, but I wouldn't fret that much. Pick one "utility" item to get done, then after finishing it, give yourselves one "personal gratification" item.
Very true. We waited 20 years for the water pressure regulator. But one of the things we found out is that water pressure increases over time. By the time we had it done, it had gone from 65 PSI, which is borderline high, to 95 PSI, which is “OMG, you mean nothing is leaking yet?”

delamer
Posts: 6097
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by delamer » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:57 pm

Develop a budget for each item on your list. Knowing that you need to fix the driveway may keep you from overspending on a new laptop (for instance).

The only items that sound like true safety issues are the house water problem, the car horn, and maybe the cells phone in an emergency.

Take care of those first.

Then deal with the rest based on budget and preferences. I’d prioritize window coverings and weather stripping because they’ll save you money in the long run, but then again I don’t know what a NES is.

fourkids
Posts: 132
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:40 am

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by fourkids » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:09 pm

for the love of God, get a dishwasher.
I would rather eat crackers every day than live without my dishwasher.
you can get a used one on Craigslist for $50.

in fact, you can get lots of perfectly working items on Craigslist for very cheap. that could solve a dozen of your problems.

LiterallyIronic
Posts: 791
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:36 am

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by LiterallyIronic » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:17 pm

There's some good stuff in this thread, thanks.

I like the urgent vs important idea, and the "alphabetize and see what doesn't make sense" idea, too. I'll do both of those this weekend.
SimonJester wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:55 pm
Are you new to your house? It sounds like it...
Yeah, we just bought it late last year and pretty much just hunkered down all winter. Now it's warming up and we need to fix things.
SimonJester wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:55 pm

Back door handle. Broken. Right back door cannot be opened from the inside. Corolla? Mine did as well, buy replacement online its an easy fix
Yep, that one's the Corolla. It's super annoying and potentially dangerous if the person/people in the back needs to get out quickly.

JBTX
Posts: 4034
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by JBTX » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:12 pm

I would consider many of these routine maintenance that should fit in a normal budget. I’m not sure I’d include any of these as part of an emergency fund.

ThePrince
Posts: 348
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 9:15 pm
Location: U.S.A.

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by ThePrince » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:34 pm

bh7785 wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:29 pm
Sounds to me like the NES and SNES should be priority items.
LOL.

User avatar
celia
Posts: 8333
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by celia » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:44 pm

The water pressure sounds the most serious, so do that first and, as someone else said, while the plumber is there, have her fix other plumbing issues that can't wait or cost less than a second house call.

For the rest of the list, make a cost estimate for each item and re-order** the list with the inexpensive tasks at the top. Then start working on the inexpensive things. For example, you can probably hang curtains and install weather stripping yourself, so the cost is just materials. (Check out slightly worn curtains/drapes at the thrift shop and take your measurements with you.)

**Let your DW re-order the list a little since it is her house and repair money too.

If the NES/SNES ends up higher priority than the dishwasher, I think it is fair that you wash the dishes once you get the system until the dishwasher is installed. :)

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 14066
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by Watty » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:38 pm

What is your constraint? Time or Money?

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:44 pm
Horn: Breaking. Technically works maybe 25% of the time.
This would be high on my list since it is a safety issue It sounds like it could just be a loose wire so even if you normally don't work on your own car you might be able to see it if you open the hood.

Try googling something like "Your car model, year, and horn not working" to see if you can find suggestions on the internet. You may even be able to find a video that will show you how to easily change the horn on your model car.

User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 1072
Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:41 am

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by Nicolas » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:03 pm

bh7785 wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:29 pm
Sounds to me like the NES and SNES should be priority items.
This would be at the very top of my list, no question.
De gustibus non est disputandum.

WhyNotUs
Posts: 1336
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:38 am

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by WhyNotUs » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:11 pm

Things that are fairly low cost and I can do myself so should not even be on a list (just do it)
Door weather stripping
Shovel
Trimmer
Rust treatment on Swamp Cooler
Curtains (if you have a sewing machine or have a friend with one you tube is your friend) Funky will do for now

Things that I just need to live with for a while and stop thinking about
Car stuff
Nintendo stuff
Driveway
Shed

Things that I need to deal with if they are required for us to make money
New battery for your phone
Figure out how to let your wife get her voice mail
New laptop

Things that I need to get a bid from a professional and then do them as soon as money allows in order
Water pressure regulator
Bathroom fan
Rough in for dishwasher, cheaper to do when a plumber will already be there, can add dishwasher when $$ are there
While the plumber is there have them add another shutoff valve in a more convenient location, should not be a big expense, if it is then wait. If you are on a community system then there is also a shutoff by the curb

Longer term savings items or debt
Make sure that you have one reliable car
New phones
Dishwasher
Insulation, once you start you will want to add in other places but there will be payback from heat savings and comfort
Driveway
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

futurehermit
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:41 am

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by futurehermit » Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:44 am

Horn: Breaking. Technically works maybe 25% of the time.

You never realize how important your car's horn is until a truck drifts into your lane at highway speed and you have little place to swerve...

mouses
Posts: 3719
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:24 am

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by mouses » Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:02 am

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:44 pm

Inside
Water main valve: It is down under the house, very inaccessible.
Water pressure regulator: Needed, apparently. From our home inspection before purchase, our water pressure is too high.

The above are structural integrity issues.

Door weather stripping: Front door's weather stripping is missing. Heat escapes.

You can cheaply do this yourself.

Bathroom fan/vent: We shower with the window open in order to avoid condensation getting on the walls/ceiling.

I shower and don't have this issue. I would try to put this off by showering only as long as necessary and perhaps one of you can shower at night, one in the morning. Second thought, I live by myself, so I have the bathroom door open. You guys don't have kids yet, right? So you could do that.


Curtains: Mostly missing. We only have them in the bedrooms.

It is cheap and easy to make actual curtains as opposed to drapes. When swamped with projects after moving, I have been known to Scotch Tape newspapers over crucial windows for a few weeks.

Outside
Trimmer: We have a lawn mower, but need to be able to get edges, near tree trunks, etc.
Shovel: Needed to remove unwanted stepping stones in the yard.

You need a trimmer. A good shovel does not cost the earth and is a permanent purchase you will need for other things. Don't get some trashy plastic shovel.

Horn: Breaking. Technically works maybe 25% of the time.

Get this fixed, it is a safety issue.

Electronics
My cell phone: 30 minute battery life when calling; 10 minute battery life when using the Internet; very little reception and most calls drop.
Wife's cell phone: Functions fine for calling/texting, but can no longer use data (wi-fi works) or check voicemail.

Do these. These are safety issues. Consumer Cellular (uses AT&T or T-mobile) has cheap flip phones with voice mail. You can live without data indefinitely.
Update comment: People have lived for millennia without dishwashers. Now a clothes washer, that's another thing entirely. You do the dishes, since it doesn't bother you, DW does something else to even work out.

gotester2000
Posts: 580
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:59 am

Re: So many problems I can't even figure out how to prioritize them

Post by gotester2000 » Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:38 am

Your need is your priority.

Making a list works for some but for others it creates worry. I stopped creating lists and it immediately gave me peace as the list is never ending and you tend to lose energy by worrying about every trivial thing. I found that only 10% things needed my attention while the rest tool care of themselves with time.

Post Reply