This past weekend I needed a 4×8 sheet of plywood, and because I have a Prius instead of a truck, I had to do the good old Home Depot truck rental. Not really a bad deal, but I paid $12.00 for the material and $20.00 to rent the truck. On the surface, that may seem like a waste of money to pay more for “shipping” than for the actual product, but in the long term, owning a truck costs a lot more. My wife and I discussed this early on because I figure with a remodeling project, it sure could be handy having a truck whenever you need it. Plus it seemed like it would be a nice toy. But the numbers prove otherwise. Here is the run-down:
$10,000 for a used truck in reasonable condition (i.e., I’m not going to buy a $6,000 truck and have to put $4,000 worth of repairs into it).
$1,000 for insurance and registration ($500 per year for the two years of the remodeling project).
$2,500 for gas (5000 miles per year / 15 miles per gallon x $4.00 per gallon times two years).
$500 for maintenance
-$8,000 when I sell the truck after two years
$6,000 total ownership cost.
For $6,000 I can rent the Home Depot truck 300 times! That’s like every other day. I figure the max I’ll ever use that rental truck will be once a month, so $20.00 x 24 months = $480. That means I save $5,500 if I just rent the darned truck. That’s my new A/C system right there! (Or at least a good down payment on it.)
That being said, there are always a few complications such as somebody else has the truck when you need it. However, this is easily overcome by some planning and shopping strategy. Most DIYs get their stuff on Saturdays and Sundays, so try to avoid those times, and if you do need the truck, get there when the place opens and reserve it right away. Then do your shopping and get in and out.
Hey, trucks are cool. Nothing wrong with having a truck if that’s what you like to drive. But unless you’re going to a jobsite every day and really using it, it just isn’t economical for a DIYer, so don’t kid yourself that you’re saving any money. It’s much less expensive, and more convenient, to have the suppliers deliver to the jobsite and on those rare occasions when you need to, just rent a truck for the specific need. Even if it is only $12.00 worth of materials. (OK, just this one time.) Besides, my Prius can hold a lot when it comes down to it. Just not 4×8 sheets of plywood!