The Value of Preventative Maintenance

I spent a few hours at the dentist on Friday, getting a filling repaired.  It cracked in the middle of the work day, and I had to take the day off to get it repaired.  Total cost: about $130.

Now, I’m going to make a confession that many people will probably find disgusting.  I haven’t been to the dentist since college – about 5 years ago.  I know.  It’s gross.

This is related to a genuine terror of the dentist.  On Friday, I sat in the chair with my shoulders tense, sweating bullets as the faces of the dentist and his hygienist loomed above me.  At one point, he was putting some special apparatus in my mouth and his grip slipped, creating a loud sort of crunching sound.  I jumped about 3 feet in the air.  You guys, I honestly thought it was my tooth shattering into a million pieces.  Even as the dentist reassured me that it was just his tools, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

(By the way, I’m pretty sure I can trace this fear to the time a dentist attempted to drill my tooth without Novacaine (!!).  There’s also the studies that say redheads are resistant to anesthesia.

“As a result, redheads tend to be particularly nervous about dental procedures and are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist as people with other hair colors… Redheads really do require more anesthesia, and by a clinically important amount.” Source.

So at the very least, I have an excuse.)

Anyway, the dentist was very good.  I spoke to him ahead of time about the no-Novacaine experience, and he shot me up with so much that I couldn’t feel the whole left side of my face for about 3 hours afterwards.  I made an appointment to go back for a proper cleaning.  I’m sure I’ll need a lot of work done, but my goal is to get to a point where I’ll only need the twice-yearly cleaning.  If I’d been more vigilant in the past, any issues would have been caught much earlier, or might never have happened at all.

This got me thinking about preventative maintenance.  I’ve no doubt I’ll need a lot of work done, even though my dental hygiene is better than that of most of the people I know (except for FB!).

The same thing applies to lot of areas in your personal and financial life.  Car maintenance is probably one of the most obvious – getting your oil changed regularly keeps the engine healthy.  Woe to anyone who ignores the check engine light!

Preventative maintenance also applies to your health, and more than just your teeth.  The next time you go for doughnut #2 (I’m not judging here, I almost always go for doughnut #2) or consider skipping the gym, just tell yourself that you’re going to do your preventative maintenance and pick up an apple or those weights.

“That’s awesome, Sarah,” my readers are saying, “but aren’t we supposed to be talking about finances?  Right?  Because isn’t this a personal finance blog?” (Well, a. I know none of my readers would ever start a sentence with because, and b.  No, this is totally a fashion blog, at least 50%!)

So here are some steps you can take for preventative maintenance of your finances:

  1. Check your budget.  Are there categories in which you’re overspending or underspending?  Making sure your budget resembles reality can be useful – even if you need to adjust the numbers upward.
  2. Check your accounts.  Have you been underspending every month?  Make sure no extra money is accumulating in your checking account, earning no interest.
  3. Have you rebalanced your retirement accounts?  Due to the recent run up in the stock market, your allocation may be much more aggressive than you’d like.  Actually, this is a good reminder for me!

Can you think of any other examples of preventative maintenance you can do in your financial or personal life? Share them in the comments! (Also, shelter costs.)

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5 Responses

  1. Seeking the proper preventative maintenance also avoids you having to spend more….such as if you DO ignore the check engine light, replacing the engine will cost you a lot more than that oil change would have. In the same way, NOT visiting the dentist twice a year will cost more if you let something fall through the cracks that will result in a more serious procedure (and more pain) later on. (Although I suppose that depends on other factors though….dental insurance/costs and all.)

    My sister isn’t a redhead, but she too has a huge fear of the dentist. Now that I think of it, she doesn’t take well to anesthesia either, so that may be why.

  2. I’m weary of the dentist as well. Even though I have a great dentist, there’s just something frightening about sitting in a chair with a DRILL in your mouth. As for preventative measures, I think exercise is a huge one. That’s why I’m trying to get rid of my lethargic ways and lead a fitter lifestyle.

  3. Eeeeek. I don’t floss. Never have. Probably should start.

    Thankfully, touch wood, I’ve always had a relatively healthy mouth, if slightly wonky teeth.

    I haven’t been to the dentist for about five years, either – when the dental van at school stopped coming (I was about 16). It’s too freaking expensive!

  4. I’m actually more terrified of the optometrist than the dentist. Pain is pain, but not being able to see is a horrible nightmare – and stuff in my eyes really freaks me out. Drops, puffs of air, an optometrist’s FACE! *shudder*

    Oh, right, not the point. I need my car to go in for minor maintenance repairs, but mostly to check and make sure that the heater being non-functional isn’t a symptom of a larger problem.

  5. […] Asteroid talked about The Value of Preventative Maintenance. I don’t mind the dentist all that much, but I know how frustrating it can be to have to pay […]

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