Friday, August 25, 2006

Guest Check-In: Blueprint for Financial Prosperity

My Weekend Frugal Spa debuts with a guest column from Jim of
A Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

Jim -- the Carnival Man -- creates an engaging story line about a pressure washer. The details about his neighbor, his father and the search for a frugal, wet wash really pulled me in.

What's more, this Rent Vs. Own piece clearly demonstrates the economic reality discussed in Chris Anderson's book, The Long Tail.

Anyway. Here's the piece: Thanks Jim!

Dueling Dollars: The Rent vs. Own Battle

I spent most of Saturday morning and afternoon pressure washing my deck, blasting away all the gunk and grossness that had accumulated there the last who knows how many years before I bought it, and weatherizing it with some nice stain and water repellent.

I originally planned to use my neighbor’s 1200 p.s.i. pressure washer, which would have been the most frugal of choices (i.e. free!), but I quickly discovered that it was a little weak on the pressure (1200 is good for washing cars, bad for power washing decks) and it was malfunctioning (so I thought).

My first thought was to rent one from Home Depot, as I had seen my father do before when we pressure washed our deck in New York, which would’ve cost $60 for four hours or $86 per day for a gasoline-powered engine 2,000 p.s.i. monster. I really didn’t have a frame of reference, since I’ve never rented a pressure washer before, but I had seen pressure washer deals on Amazon for $130 (1200 psi varieties) so $60 for 4 hours seemed a little steep.

I briefly considered buying a pressure washer online and then waiting for it to arrive before cleaning off the deck but thought otherwise. This is the classic buy vs. rent when it comes to these unique-use pieces of equipment.

On the one hand, buying a 1200 p.s.i. pressure washer for $140 surely beats renting one for four hours for $60 and at the time I had no idea what the difference was between 2000 and 1200 (besides the obvious numerical difference).

The problem is that I really would only ever use the pressure washer maybe once or twice a year. I would only use it on the deck once every four years and I might spray off the sidewalk/walkway once a year. So for the other 364 days a year that I wouldn’t be using it, it would be taking up space in my basement. With a pressure washer, unless you have a lot of space to use up, chances are you will want to just rent one when you can.

That being said, 2000 is the minimum you’ll want to have if you’re thinking about blasting away at your deck and you won’t want to store this huge gasoline-powered engine monstrosity in your basement for use once a year (plus they’re hundreds of dollars).

If it wasn’t for the fact that my local Home Depot didn’t have rentals -- the closest rental was 25 minutes away -- I wouldn’t have searched the web for a better deal. Luckily I did because I found an ABC Rental place that rented the 2,000 p.s.i. monster for $40 for four hours and it was only 3 minutes away!

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