How I Made $500 By Fixing a Toilet

by | 31Aug2017 | Do It Yourself, Money Saving Ideas | 3 comments

For some reason my wife appreciates it if I don’t take a whizz in the shower. It doesn’t really make sense to me, but I do my best to oblige (marital harmony and all that). Two days ago after doing everything in the spousal compliant manner I got out of the shower and the damn toilet is still running. We moved into our house two months ago and it’s been an endless string of minor repairs ever since. Add in two small kids, a full-time job, recovery from a recent bicycle mishap, and family visiting from out-of-town – life is full. BUT, there’s almost no repair task in a house with a higher rate of return than fixing your own shitter.

One of the things we’ll talk about a lot on MilitaryMillions is saving money. The most straightforward way of increasing your net worth, both now and in the future is to earn more than you spend. All things being equal, saving money = spending less which means a higher net worth. Plumbers don’t come out for less than $100. According to the website Homewyse the average toilet repair in my area is $200. That’s $200 today, but at a very conservative 5% return, it is $530 to future me 20 years from now. Even 20 years from now, that’s probably two days of care free retirement living – beer, steaks, and companionship (spousal type – don’t go crazy) included.

So to give future me 48 hours of happy living what did it cost me – $12 for a Fluidmaster Toilet Repair Kit, and about 15 minutes of entirely cuss-free labor. Fixing a toilet is stupid simple. The parts are standardized. The kits come with instructions in English and Spanish with pictures. YouTube has 342,000 (no kidding) results for “replace toilet valve”. Even if you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s a half hour job and say you totally screw something up, you can still call a plumber. The plumber will come out, install your parts and charge you $200. If that happens, don’t worry, we have a ton of ideas to save money. After all, this only bought a couple of days and a steak dinner with the lady who made me use the pisser before jumping in the shower.



  1. carlos

    I’m not devaluing at all the notion that if you can cheaply and easily do your own home repairs (or car repairs, etc.), you should because it would be a wise investment, but I don’t agree with the math logic in the title of this blog post. By your logic, I didn’t really spend $80 dollars on groceries, I spent $217; it didn’t cost me $40 dollars to pay the lawn guy for 2 hours of lawn maintenance, it cost me $109. But if that’s still the game you want to play, then no worries, because I don’t have a $100,0000 salary, I make more than 271 thousand dollars annually.

    • Was In

      Hey Carlos, thanks for not having an issue with whizzing in the shower!

      You make valid points. Obviously I didn’t save $500 in current dollars by fixing my toilet (although if I lived in NYC that might be the case). What I’m illustrating is the value current dollars in future terms. You already understand the concept of compounding. But despite understanding the theory we often don’t consider it when making day to day decisions. Thinking about what that $200 means to my future self reinforces the concept. That call to the plumber isn’t just $200 spent today, it’s $500 less that I’ll have 20 years from now.

      BTW, we didn’t even consider the intangible gains – that feeling of accomplishment. Being able to do shit yourself hits deep down in the cave man part of the brain.

  2. adminmilitary

    Scott’s test comment – figuring out how to deploy from Staging without nuking comments.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This