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Ounce of prevention saves cash

By Paula Pant ·
Monday, February 25, 2013
Posted: 9 am ET

I try to refrain from quoting cliches -- they're so, well, cliche -- but one saying keeps coming to mind: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Again and again, I've seen examples in which $10 in prevention is worth $100 or more in cure. That's why I think "saving money" by skimping on routine maintenance is a terrible idea.

Spending money on prevention is a mental hurdle for many frugal people. It's tempting to skimp on a few bills by believing that bad luck simply won't happen to you. But if you want to save money in the long haul, you need to discipline yourself to spend on preventative care.

Here are some preventative and maintenance measures that can spare you from the headache of huge repair bills down the road.

1. Oil changes and tuneups
Confession time: During college, I'd skimp on oil changes by simply pouring a quart of oil into my engine whenever the levels got too low. Bad idea. Oil changes and other regular car tuneups can be pricey, but they pale in comparison to the repair bill triggered by a major malfunction.

2. Roof maintenance
There aren't many things that create more damage -- or more panic -- than a leaking roof creating huge water stains on your ceilings. (Ask me how I know!) Get a roof "tuneup" at least once a year to replace any popped shingles. Clean your gutters regularly to prevent fascia rot, which can be caused by a buildup of moist leaves. And if you do spot water marks on your ceiling, call a professional immediately.

3. Appliance and HVAC maintenance
Clogged filters can overheat appliances and furnaces, shortening their useful lifespan. Regularly replace air conditioning filters and clear your dryer vents. Also, clean your floor registers and air returns annually.

4. Self-maintenance
Eat healthy, exercise daily and get plenty of sleep, even if you have to make time by cutting back on your working hours -- or spending less time clipping coupons. Visit your doctor annually for a preventative checkup. If you spot any problems that need medical attention, make an appointment, regardless of the copay or deductible cost.

Follow Paula on Twitter @affordanything.

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