Change your own oil and save money

I got my oil changed the other day and I got completely hosed.  It’s a simple task and I know how to do it but ever since I’ve lived in California, I haven’t had a place, the tools, or the means to do it myself.  So I’ve paid for someone else to do it for me.  As you can imagine, this eats me up inside.  This past weekend really killed me though.

I got a coupon in the mail for an oil change that would only cost $30.  Great deal if you ask me and it’s the dealership where I bought my car.  They always seemed legit so I hopped over to do it.  Before they began, I got my quote: $80.  Whoa whoa whoa, that is not what the coupon says sir.  But of course, there was a catch.  There always is.  Apparently the coupon didn’t cover synthetic oil and my car was only supposed to have that.  I negotiate the price down but still, I’m pissed.

The next day I’m talking with a friend at work and he tunes me into this ridiculous contraption: an oil extractor.

It looks simple enough, right?

It looks simple enough, right?

Apparently, you buy this thing, put the tube in where the dipstick comes out, create a vacuum with the pump and your oil drains into the container.  No need to jack up the car, no need to get underneath it and have burning oil sear your hand/face.  Simple.  If you’re just changing the oil, it would take maybe 20 minutes, top.  30 minutes if you also change the filter.  If you’re lucky (and chances are that you would be), the filter will also be on the top and you’ll be able to easily change it.

Obviously, you run into some issues with this.  You still have to buy the oil (consult your drivers manual to find out what kind is right) but that usually will only cost $25 to $30, including the oil filter.  The thing you really have to worry about is getting rid of the oil.  It’s toxic and you can’t just throw it away or pour it down the drain.  I mean you can but seriously, think about the fish.  You’re going to eat them later!

Luckily, recycling oil is actually pretty easy.  Most Jiffy Lubes or other places will actually pay you for your oil, 25 or 30 cents a gallon.  If you live in California, you can get paid up to 40 cents a gallon to recycle the used oil.  The reason for this is that it is actually easier to get usable, refined oil out of your used up oil than it is to get it out of unprocessed crude.  So, more and more companies are popping up to recycle the oil and make a few bucks on the spread between what they pay you and what they sell it for.

Overall, changing your own oil might not seem like much but it can save you some money in the long run.  If you drive your car for 200,000 miles, you’ll save over $1,000 in maintenance costs during that time period.  It might not seem like much but since you’ll be paying closer attention to your car, you’re also more likely to notice if anything is actually going wrong way before someone else might.  This will definitely come in handy down the road!

It looks like I’ll be purchasing that oil extractor up above and probably changing my own oil in the future.  I’d rather do things on my own anyway, it saves money and it would just be nice to be something I get back to! Besides oil, what else can one save money on with their car?  I’m guessing brake pads but at the same time, I don’t quite feel like dying will driving down a hill.  Let me know if you have any other money saving ideas when it comes to car maintenance!

Things to know by the time you’re 25


I found an article the other day on the Huffington Post that really resonated with me.  It was an article by Danny Rubin entitled 25 Things every young professional should know by age 25.  Considering I’m only 26, I took a look and honestly loved the list.  By this point in our lives, we’ve figured out a couple things.  Or at least, I’d like to think I’ve figured out a couple of things here and there.  The problem is, I think that some of these things might not be as evident to everyone as they should be.  Take, for example, number 24:

24. Read an apartment lease before you sign. All of it.”

By the time you’re 25, it’s my hope that you’ve moved out and rented an apartment.  But you know what?  No on reads the lease documents.  I mean, I do but only because I learned the hard way that you’ve got to.  But other people?  It isn’t as evident and most people wouldn’t think twice.  They’d see the rental amount and sign on the dotted line.  Still, I like this one.  But to me, it applies to everything.  Read the damn contract!  Buying a car?  Renting a car?  Read the contract!  Try to understand it and if you don’t, ask questions.  It may seem embarrassing but unless if you went to law school or paralegal school, chances are you don’t know what some of the stuff means.  So ask.

Then there are two that I love, numbers 20 and 2:

20. The days of a college syllabus are long gone. If you’re waiting for someone to give you direction, have a seat. You’ll be there a while.”

2. The only failure in your 20s is inaction. Everything else is trial and error.”

These two go hand in hand for me.  You spend 16 years getting educated, always getting told what to do, where to go, where to sit, line up walk here blah blah blah.  Now, you’re free.  You need to make your own life choices about the career you have, where to live, who to love even.  Taken along with number 2 and you see that this decade is where we’re supposed to screw up because we’ve got time to rally back.  And it’s the truth.  If you look at life from a personal finance standpoint, if you’re going to screw up now is the time.  You’ll still have time to fix things and make huge life changes without having to force the kids to changes schools or sell that house for a loss.  You’ve still got time.

The thing I really took away from this list is that, while the first half of this decade was tough, the second half is going to be just as difficult.  We’ll still all have to fight for recognition and accolades at our jobs, we’ll still have to work our way from minion to senior minion.  But in the long run, it’s worth it.  And we learn from it.  And that’s the big thing, isn’t it?  Never stop learning.