Things it’s cheaper to do yourself

I’m driving down to my mother’s house this morning to work on her roof. Over the years, the shingles have been overrun with moss, so my cousin and I are going to spend a couple of hours scraping the stuff off.

We could hire somebody to clean the roof for us, but this seems like an easy way to save a little money. The entire project reminds of a recent article from Liz Pulliam Weston at MSN Money. Last month, she highlighted five things it’s cheaper to do yourself. Weston writes:

You can make a good argument for hiring out certain tasks because it frees your time or because the person you hire will do a better job. In fact, people have. Author Timothy Ferriss turned the idea of outsourcing your life into a best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek. But when money is tight and you’re looking for places to cut, some of the places you’re outsourcing now should get a second look.

Here is Weston’s list of five things it’s cheaper to do yourself:

  • Food preparation. “The simplest and fastest way for most folks to cut their budgets is to stop outsourcing food preparation,” Weston writes. Don’t pay for convenience. Learn to make your own meals. if you have the space, time, and inclination, then start a vegetable garden. Taking charge in the kitchen is a great way to save money and develop fun hobbies and skills. This is an area where Kris and I do well.
  • Home improvement and repairs. You can’t do every home repair yourself. For some, such as non-trivial plumbing and electrical tasks, you need to bring in the professionals. But for many household projects, it can be satisfying and educational to do the work yourself. The trick is to learn the difference. This is another area where we do well — in this old house, we’ve learned to do our own basic home maintenance.
  • Personal care. Some of Weston’s readers cut their own hair. Some women do their own manicures and pedicures instead of paying somebody else to do them. If you can’t do these things yourself, you may be able to find somebody you know who can help. When I was a poor college student, I “outsourced” my haircuts to a good friend, which freed up money for more important things. Like pizza.
  • Laundry and tailoring. I used to know how to sew on a button. Also in college, I mended my own clothing — sometimes while watching football games with the guys! I haven’t done that in years. Now if something needs to be mended, I send it out. I’ve also become lazy about ironing. I iron my own clothes sometimes, but just as often, I take them to the cleaners.
  • Lawn and home care. Cutting recurring costs for a cleaning service or lawn maintenance can be a great way to save money.

There are other things it’s cheaper to do yourself, such as basic car maintenance, computer maintenance, and tax preparation. You may have to take some time to learn how to solve your problem, but after you’ve done it once, it’s much easier in the future.

The first time I repaired a leaky faucet, it was a frustrating experience. By the third time, I knew what to expect, and actually almost enjoyed myself. And I certainly saved some cash by not having to call a plumber. (But I still don’t think it’s a good idea for me to cut my own hair.)

Have you found that it’s cheaper or more fulfilling to do certain things yourself instead of paying somebody else to do them? At what point does it make more sense to pay to have something done? Are there basic skills that the average person might learn that could pay off repeatedly in the long run?

Photo by Chimothy 27.

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There are 97 comments to "Things it’s cheaper to do yourself".

  1. Richard says 18 November 2008 at 05:04

    There’s also the time you can save fixing things yourself. If you need to call Comcast to install a router for your internet, they’ll give you the day and say someone will be by between Noon and 5pm. That traps you at home with no way to leave, while if you could install the router yourself you just saved 5 hours of waiting plus the service charge.

  2. Cap says 18 November 2008 at 05:16

    Agreed that many minor home repairs can be done by yourself. I fixed some leaking faucets recently after a quick Google. 15 minutes later the maddening dripping stopped. It was so easy it made me feel a bit silly for not taking care of it easier (and in the process I learned more than I ever wanted to know about various types of faucets).

    I also do most minor/medium preventive maintenance on my car, which saves a significant amount through the years. Although in recent year I’ve gotten quite lazy and usually just visit a quick lube place for a $20 oil change (the savings is really only about $7-10 when I do it myself).

    Many of these can overall produce a “rewarding” feeling, and for many people.. it should be fun to do-it-yourself. Of course, sometimes its just one of many on the list of to-dos, so it really depends.

    As for time/money factor, the oil change I mentioned is one such example. Besides my laziness, $7-$10 saving isnt really worth the extra time I take on doing it myself compare to taking it to a quick lube place, especially considering I usually visit a lube place to dispose of the oil anyway.

  3. Frugal Bachelor says 18 November 2008 at 05:22

    My main criteria is what equipment/tools are needed for the job. If something doesn’t need any special tools, then I do it myself. If some sort of vehicle repair needs a specialized tool to pull out some part, then forget about it. Jobs which can be done with a standard socket set or screwdriver set depend. My ‘ideal’ is to have nothing, and let other people worry about the maintenance of stuff, but not practical when living in a country with high labor costs.

    I know some people who can do DIY any project, but they also have a garage full of tools, supplies, ad other junk, each of which they’ve used once. For me, this is a humongous waste.

  4. Kate says 18 November 2008 at 05:28

    Necessity generally breed creativity, right? I’m just thinking about how when I grew up, all of the above suggestions were just a given in our family. My father always did his own home and car maintenance. We rarely got a meal out of the house and when we did, it was a really big treat even for a pizza. We grew up in a comfortable house in a nice neighborhood, but I have a feeling that the only reason we could afford it was because my parents scrimped where they could. Yet I don’t remember ever feeling bad about it.

    It amazes me to think about how often I pay to get services done for me. I think of myself as frugal and do well in some of those categories. Yet compared with how I grew up, I live a life of luxury.

  5. KC says 18 November 2008 at 05:31

    I’m fixing my home up for sale and a lot of the little things I’m tackling myself. Its amazing what a little research on the internet reveals. I did hire some people out and I watched them do wall repairs and such – next time I’ll attempt them – I can always hire then someone if my attempts fail.

    But use common sense. Speaking of roofs we had a bad windstorm a few years ago in my city. We had some shingles blow off. But since we didn’t have a tree on our roof (the roofers and tree people were that busy!) we couldn’t get anyone out there to put a tarp on the exposed area. So my husband and I go buy a 30 ft ladder and a tarp and some roof nails. I can honestly tell you I will never go onto my roof again. I do not want to be over 30 ft in the air on a roof pitched at more than a 45 degree angle. I’m still not sure how we did it and I know we’ll never do it again – I’ll just let the rain seep into the house and repair the walls next time.

  6. Christy says 18 November 2008 at 05:31

    Because my better half is a costume designer, our sewing needs are taken care of (even if they sometimes have to wait for a show to go up). Because I used to be a theatrical technical director, I can handle just about anything related to building and electrics (I DESPISE plumbing even though I do do it for little things).

    Recently, however, we knew that the wood portions of our largely stone house needed to be painted. We can do everything on the first story easily ourselves. But the design of the house (a Dutch Colonial) has a second story bump out that’s all clapboard. We hired a painter to do the clapboard, second story windows and the little attic windows for which we did not have the ladders. We’ll do the first story in the spring. Seemed like a good compromise for us.

  7. Studenomics says 18 November 2008 at 05:33

    TO be honest I see matters a little differently. Time is money, I would rather work to make money than spend the whole day doing a little project around the house. If I could pay someone to do a project for me, while I go to work and still make a profit, then I’m happy.

    Cutting grass may take 10minutes and it is enjoyable on a sunny afternoon. Cleaning a roof, installing new windows, etc. could consume a whole day or two. Would you rather take up two days of your time or just pay someone to do it for you while you either work or do something you enjoy?

  8. Chris says 18 November 2008 at 05:48

    How about washing and vacuuming your own car. (How about keeping the interior clean in the first place by not eating in your car, or using your car as a trash can.) That can save a ton of money.

    We clean our own carpets. We bought a carpet cleaning machine many years ago and it has paid for itself over and over. It’s especially helpful to get out stains as soon as they happen.

    We did our own landscaping, mow our own lawn, do our own leaf pickup, trim our own bushes, etc. We also put down the lawn fertilizers and weed treatments. It only takes about 15 minutes, and less than 1/2 the price of the companies. Plus, they always over-treat.

    We take care of snow removal for our own driveway instead of calling someone with a plow. (We live in Michigan, and own a snowblower)

    I color my own hair. $5-7 when I do it myself, $70 when I get it professionally done. No one can tell. Plus, while I’m waiting for my color timer, I’m doing dishes, reading emails etc. and no gas money. Never had a professional manicure or pedicure. Do that all myself too. Plus I pluck my own eyebrows instead of getting them waxed. I did fork over hundreds for custom teeth whitening trays at the dentist, but I now use over-the-counter whiteners in my trays.

    I wash both of my dogs in the bathtub, and trim their nails. It’s messy but saves approximately 30.00 per month on grooming. I can have both dogs bathed and trimmed in the time it takes to drive to and from the groomer.

    I cut both of my daughters’ hair. They have long hair so they just need a trim on the ends every few months.

    My husband does a lot of our home repairs. We only outsource things we feel we want the security of a professional, such as complicated electrical work, furnace work, etc.

    One thing we could have done ourselves but didn’t was paint our ceilings. We both hate painting ceilings and it was worth the money! We do however, paint our own walls.

    As far as cooking, we don’t buy a lot of convenience foods, we make menus and almost always eat at home. If we are craving restaurant meals, we go to the library and check out some of the Top Secret Recipes books. They are by Todd Wilbur, I think.

  9. Kent Thune says 18 November 2008 at 05:49

    …and if you don’t know how to “fix it,” then try anyway. You’ll learn from the experience, especially if you make a mistake!

    What better way is there to learn (and save money) than by experience?

    “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” ~ Oscar Wilde

  10. Diatryma says 18 November 2008 at 05:50

    Like all things, it’s a balance. Every few weeks, I get fed up with my house and vacuum and consider being the only grad student in the world who hires a maid service for her kitchen floor. But the fifteen dollars it takes to get my hair cut in town is too much– it’s worth going home, making an appointment with the folks who have been trimming my, my brother’s, my mom’s, and for a while my sister’s hair, who I trust, but not to walk downtown and pay slightly more for someone I don’t actually trust not to screw up.

    Like most things on this site, it’s a matter of recognizing the continuum and nudging yourself a bit to one side.

  11. Don says 18 November 2008 at 05:54

    KC has a good point. Be careful on the roof. One accident will undo a lot of savings.

  12. Bill in NC says 18 November 2008 at 06:05

    Learn to swap parts – that’s the basis of most home repairs.

    Toilet – the flapper and fill mechanism are the things that fail.

    Sinks – I just replaced all the stem/check valves in our 20 year old house and the faucets are as good as new.

    Washer/dryer – I’ve replaced the lid switch on the washer and the heating element/thermostats on our 20 year old set.

    However, I did pay over $2000 to have our freestanding tile shower torn down to the studs and rebuilt.

  13. nuke3ae says 18 November 2008 at 06:09

    With the wealth of information on the internet, normal people can perform tasks that used to require a “specialist”. If I don’t know how to install/fix something, there is a forum/website dedicated to that exact task.

  14. Peggy says 18 November 2008 at 06:31

    There are some areas in which I take this DIY to the extreme. I am very distrustful of the medical mainstream lately. I have been educating myself and researching the home remedies that have served my ancestors well for hundreds of years. Yes, there are some things I don’t mess with, but for basic health care, I find good maintenance helps a lot.

    We have built our homeschool on the concept that if you have a basis in the basics (math facts, logic, fundamentals of scientific inquiry, reading and writing skills) and the knowledge of how to teach yourself what you need to know (research skills), you can learn anything you need to know in life.

  15. Money Minder says 18 November 2008 at 06:37

    Time is money. If a chore is within your ability and will save you the cost of out sourcing it, then of course you should do it yourself. If on other hand the chore at hand would cost less to out source per hour than what you can earn working per hour, you would be financially better off to outsource the job and spend your time working.

  16. Neil says 18 November 2008 at 06:38

    Some great idea’s. I’m all for doing repairs around the house yourself. I get great satisfaction out of a job well done.

    However, if you are going to do a home repair or reno make sure you do it right. The previous owners of our house installed a bathroom in the basement. They cheaped out on the plumbing, which caused a pipe to burst, which resulted in hot water running all day. Further it soaked a carpet which we couldn’t dry fast enough, so mold set in. The end result, I had to install new flooring.

    For the record the old owner paid under $1 for the parts they used, I replaced them with proper parts for $20. However, I also won’t need to replace my floor again anytime soon.

  17. Chris says 18 November 2008 at 06:45

    For us not going out to eat and changing the oil in our own cars was the 2 biggest ways we started to control our budget. I have considered at times to pay someone to do my yard but just can’t justify the cost.

    I’ve also put in our own laminate flooring which was a huge cost saving and not that hard to do.

  18. Momma says 18 November 2008 at 06:52

    I have a couple ideas with regard to DIY… (in my opinion, it almost always makes sense to DIY)

    1) LAUNDRY – How about a DIY laundry rack? We have one of these that my husband built, and I am crazy about it! Saves money on drying clothes, and I feel like I’m saving money every time I use it! (Plus we MAKE our own laundry pretreater, and that saves us more money!)
    http://www.engineeradebtfreelife.com/search/label/laundry

    2) BULK COOKING – it is so true that cooking at home saves you BIG money. My husband is bulk cooking expert – everything from burritos to “super spaghetti” to homemade pasta sauce. If you’re interested in any of the recipes, feel free to go to
    http://www.engineeradebtfreelife.com/search/label/bulk%20cooking

    Great post, looking forward to seeing others comments on this too!

  19. Janet says 18 November 2008 at 07:07

    Yes and no.

    I clean my own apartment, I cook, I can sew a button, I paint my own nails, etc.

    I will NOT cut my own hair, nor will I attempt to figure out how the engine of my car works. The thing with paying others to do things — it makes the world go round.

    A plumber will have a paycheck if my toilet goes haywire, and a lady who runs a salon out of her home? I can support her business by visiting her once every 2 months.

    Time is money, and I’d rather have my weekends to relax and not be stressed with trying to take care of everything by myself. That’s great if you know how to properly do a task, but I know what I’m capable of and would rather leave work to a professional.

  20. Allison says 18 November 2008 at 07:38

    Dog grooming. I have a standard poodle and a professional groomer charges between $50 and $75 to completely groom a poodle. I’m in the process of picking up grooming items on sale so I can learn to do it myself.

  21. Bloke says 18 November 2008 at 07:38

    My brothers-in-law and I team up on all of our home maintenance/improvements – one or two projects a year.

    3 Years ago: They helped me hang siding on the house.
    2 Years ago: We laid carpet at one BIL’s palce.
    This year: Did the parents’ roof and gutters.
    Next year, Another brother-in-law with a deck. 2 Years from now, the last brother-in-law is planning on building a house, and needs help with running wire, Cat5 and other things.

    We keep track of tools so if repeating comes in, we know who has what.

    Note: I’m terrible at home repair, but have learned TONS from the BIL. Just willing to work and get dirty.

  22. Tim says 18 November 2008 at 07:41

    Life is too short to waste on trivial tasks like mowing the lawn or raking leaves. Hiring those tasks out is well worth the cost if your lawn is of any significant size.

  23. Kaitlyn says 18 November 2008 at 07:44

    Before I started my current job, I always saw myself as the type of person who hires people to do something. Now, I can tell the difference between a hexkey and a torque, I can cut, polish, and install copper tubing, etc. Who knew chemists needed that kind of skillset?

    Very surprisingly, I found that I enjoy such things! My next goal is to learn how to change my own oil and the basics of car maintenance. Sadly, I can’t do that at my apartment complex.

    Living in SoCal, people think I am crazy that I refuse to hire a cleaning service. Everyone has someone, it seems. I can clean my own bathrooms, thank you.

  24. McKenna says 18 November 2008 at 07:49

    Like someone else mentioned, you need to factor in safety with some of these home projects. An inexperienced person on a mossy roof could be a disaster waiting to happen. Be careful, JD!

    My husband owns his own home repair and remodeling business, which is booming right now. He can fix or build anything, but he no longer works on roofs (ours or anyone else’s). We have three small children, and we can’t afford for something to happen to him–his physical body is too precious to our income.

    In the pre-kid days, he wouldn’t have thought twice about jumping up there to do the work. Now he calls his trusty roof guy (who is single without kids) to contract out that kind of work.

    As with anything, there is a risk-benefit calculation. For us, caution and safety are more important than saving a few bucks. As someone said, one accident could be costly. For us, it could be disastrous.

    Good luck with the roof!

  25. elisabeth says 18 November 2008 at 07:54

    I love to iron — every sunday morning, I set up the ironing board and watch the political talk shows while I iron. As a result, my dear husband looks great at his office job and we take a lot fewer things to the dry cleaners, since I can also spot clean and brush things etc…
    but we happily pay for lawn service — we have some steeply graded areas that really require a big mower and it is better to hire this out.

  26. icup says 18 November 2008 at 07:56

    Just out of curiosity, why bother cleaning the roof? Moss does no damage and adds an extra layer of insulation to her home. Its also cutting down on her cooling bills in the summer by not absorbing as much sunlight as dark shingles would.

  27. Julianne says 18 November 2008 at 07:56

    There is a difference between being frugal and cheap. I am consumer debt free and save about 25% of my take home pay. However, I work hard and I choose to pay to have someone cut my lawn, give me a pedicure and highlight my hair. I don’t view this as wasting money or being extravagant. The choices in my life (I don’t have kids or pets, have a 10-year old car, bring my lunch to work, and use the library instead of buying books and movies) have provided me with discretionary income so that I can pay someone to take care of my lawn and highlight my hair while still meeting my financial obligations and working towards my financial goals. It is about balance, and cutting back slowly will help people in the long run be more financially responsible.

  28. Brian says 18 November 2008 at 07:59

    A man’s haircut is pretty easy. Growing up my mother cut my hair, and then I had a long hair period during college. Now I cut my own hair.

    $30 for clippers eight years ago, 15 minutes every couple of months, and nobody can tell the difference, even after I tell them I do it myself.

    1″ on top, 1/2″ on the sides, and then my wife trims the neckline (I used to do this myself with two mirrors).

    Getting our dogs nails cut costs us more each year. (Something else I should re-learn how to do, I used to do it when I was a kid.)

  29. EscapeVelocity says 18 November 2008 at 08:14

    Bikini waxes are really worth having a professional do–saves a lot of time, mess, and pain. I only get them in the summer. Lip waxes I can do–two yanks and it’s over, and you can see what you’re doing. And I tweeze my brows.

    I do all my own yard work, except tree trimming. I put in a French drain a few years ago. For now, I do roof repairs, but I’m planning to have the asphalt shingle roof replaced with metal, which I’m hoping won’t leak but which I don’t plan on getting up on. Or installing. I may also hire the gutters cleaned once I have gutters, because I have a pretty good idea how good I’ll be at getting it done promptly.

    I agree with Frugal Bachelor that the cost of the tools is a big factor in deciding whether it’s worth doing a job yourself. Storage space for the tools and room to work, too. I don’t have a garage, so anything that requires a table saw, I am not going to do. I also don’t have the space for large sewing projects (or a sewing machine).

    I think hiring things done can save money, but people do go overboard thinking every single hour of their week is worth x dollars. If you can do work during the time the service is being done, or during the time saved because a professional can do it more quickly, and you get paid more because you work during that time, then yes. If you wouldn’t otherwise have been doing work for pay, or if you could have gone in on Saturday but you get paid the same regardless, then not so much. I spent my lunch hour yesterday painting some furniture, but I wasn’t going to be paid for that hour, so if I’d hired it done I couldn’t say I saved an hour’s pay.

  30. Jessica says 18 November 2008 at 08:19

    These are great tips, but where are the tips for those of us who already do all these things because we never could afford to outsource them?

  31. Glenn says 18 November 2008 at 08:20

    My mother’s cut hair for all of the heads in our family since far before I was born. Growing up, I had no idea other people paid for haircuts–it was always just a trip to the basement whenever one of us started looking shaggy.

    Likewise, we always vacuumed/dusted our house, mowed our own lawn, raked our own leaves and shoveled our own driveway(s). In the event of unusually drastic snowfall I don’t pay anyone to take care of it, I just ask a friend to help out and then head over to his house to help with his driveway.

    Since my father was a carpenter (and picked up most of the other trades through the years) he always took care of most home-repair projects, with my mother’s help and then my brother’s and mine when we got old enough to start holding flashlights & retrieving wrenches. He can’t do a lot of it any more, though, so while there’re some things we picked up ourselves or can look into, there’re some things we find ourselves having to pay for–thankfully one of my mother’s friends is a plumber, so he gives us great service at very good rates.

  32. Bloke says 18 November 2008 at 08:20

    For dogs, using a dremel instead of clippers work great for big dogs.

    It was expensive, a chore and I was running out of groomers willing to fight off a 100# dog to trim his nails.

    Now, I dremel his nails down every two weeks, exchanging a treat for each paw’s wortth of nails. We get it done in about a half hour. Now they are very short…

  33. Steve in Montreal says 18 November 2008 at 08:47

    I live in a cedar sided house. A few years ago I hired a professional to restain the south side. He did a good job sanding off the old finish and reapplying the new. The south side looked brand new. It cost me just over $1500. This summer I decided to attempt the east side. I bought a 28ft ladder for $200 and an orbital sander for $40. The stain cost me about $300 (it’s a 3 step process). So I took a week off work and did it all in that week for less than $400!! I saved $1,100 in after tax income. Wahoo!!

  34. MaxPowers says 18 November 2008 at 08:47

    The biggest deciding factors were left out: 1) how much you can make per hour versus the time it takes to do the task.
    If you can make $10 per hour, it doesn’t make sense to pay $20 for a 15 minute carwash if you can do it equally as well.
    2) are there benefits to letting a professional do it.. If you screw up a task and hire a professional to fix it, you end up paying more. Also if it looks sloppy or amateurish, then you didn’t really save much
    3) For all of you who think that others can’t tell that you cut or color your hair at home — we do notice. Not a big deal if you’re in a career where appearance never plays a role in your success, but studies consistently show more attractive people get promoted more often.

  35. Debt Reduction Formula says 18 November 2008 at 08:53

    I’ve been to a barber once… in my whole life. When I lived at home, my mom cut my hair. Since then, I’ve cut my own hair (hair clippers). I get a little help from my wife to spot-check and make sure I didn’t miss any parts.

    I finally did a major plumbing repair this summer. I was amazed at the savings — to the tune of $300. Definitely something worth learning how to do on your own.

  36. Carla says 18 November 2008 at 08:59

    I think for us the small things: laundry, including hanging clothes on the line, basic mending (because I know how to sew), basic plumbing issues and other household tasks are done ourselves. Cooking ? Of course! Cleaning? We dont have clutter and only hardwood floors so its pretty simple and quick. But the rest — time is money and spending X amount of hours to learn how to do complete a task, or fix something and/or having to spend the time to buy or rent special equipment isn’t worth it. We don’t even change our own oil. Taking the cars to the dealer (both under warranty) for maintenance so that I can spend the time taking care of other things is the best way to go for us. We take care of the tires ourselves though.

    Trust me; you don’t want me cutting my fiancée’s hair! I trim and color my own hair, but I just dye it black and my hair is the same length all over. Anything more complicated will be outsourced!

    I guess you have to pick and choose whats best for you to DIY or outsource. I’m with Janet #19 on all points.

  37. Frugal Dad says 18 November 2008 at 09:02

    I’ll do just about anything DIY unless it is a safety risk to do so. For instance, I don’t do any heavy electrical work–I save that for the experts. I also only do light plumbing after watching my grandfather twist a pipe off inside the wall once and scramble to cut off the main line down by the street. As a kid, I thought it was pretty funny, but as an adult footing the bill for repairs, I can better understand his disgust!

  38. Miss M says 18 November 2008 at 09:04

    I did a post of this back when it came out. The things I added were minor car repair and car washes and pet care like grooming. And for the time is money people, if you aren’t using that time to actually make money then it makes no sense to also being paying someone else to do it for you.

  39. Chett says 18 November 2008 at 09:06

    Some people who have posted on here stated it takes too much time to learn home improvement. 3 years ago I knew very little about home improvement, then we purchased a house, cheap that needed a lot of work. I hired a carpenter to work by the hour with the stipulation that I would work with him and he would teach me what he could when an opportunity came up. We built a 700 sq ft addition from the ground up for less than $22,000. The money I saved in the contruction was just the beginning of the savings. Over the past summer I tiled three rooms in my house, put down solid hard wood floors, knocked out a wall in my house, put in a new flu for our wood stove, built a porch on the front of our house, and re-roofed the back of our house. I had very little help in any of these tasks and the savings in labor has been well over $20,000. More than the savings is the sense of empowerment that I am able to tackle repairs and upgrades to my home at a much lower cost than before!

  40. Miranda says 18 November 2008 at 09:16

    We do a lot around our house ourselves, although we did have a housekeeping service for a very long time, but when they went out of business my husband and I decided we could do the work ourselves, some days I really miss it, but then I do not miss the $160 – $200 a month out of our checking account.

    I do think there are a lot of was to easily save money by doing things yourself, but if you can afford to hire some help and it will allow you to do something more productive or enjoyable then go for it. Life is short.

  41. E says 18 November 2008 at 09:24

    I love the idea of DIY, but when we actually tried it, we found that we’re not very good at it. I looked on Google for how to fix a leaky faucet, but after watching the video and looking at our faucet, I decided it wasn’t worth the risk of knocking the shower out of commission to save a few bucks. DH tried replacing some other plumbing fixtures; after hours of frustration, we ended up with leaks. I think some people are just not cut out for this stuff.

  42. Liz says 18 November 2008 at 09:31

    For about 24 years, I never had to worry about getting haircuts, because my aunt was a hairstylist. When she passed, for the first time in my life, I had to find someone outside my family to do it. Fortunately, I did find the person who has been my hairstylist in the 20 years since – it helped that we were close in age and had worked together part-time in a grocery store while we both attended school for our respective professions. The personal care stuff for me has always been a no brainer, since I’ve always given myself manicures and pedicures, tweezed my eyebrows, and so on. And although I need haircuts every month or so, I never began dying my hair when the gray showed up (which started showing up full force in my 20s), and at this point in my life is pretty much a moot point. What makes me laugh is when people ask me if my hair is highlighted and did I pay to have it done. When I reply that it’s natural (luckily, it came in evenly all over), I always get amazed looks.

    As for the other items on this list, I consider myself a very good cook and a fair-to-middling seamstress – two skills I learned from my hairstylist aunt – and I am probably one of the few females (at least in my neck of the woods) who enjoys mowing the lawn. I’d much rather be outside on a beautiful sunny day mowing than inside dusting. I also trim the hedges, but I’m not all that keen on doing it, and I can see where I’d outsource that eventually. Likewise, I view shoveling snow as a chance to get some exercise, but then, I only have the sidewalks around our house to worry about – we have a very tiny driveway.

    I do all the washing and ironing, and I deliberately look for clothing that doesn’t have to be drycleaned, where possible. Of course, some things we own have to be drycleaned, but it’s probably
    less than 15% of all the clothing we own.

    As for the home repair portion, my hubby has proven himself very adept at fixing leaky plumbing, building replacement steps on our deck. His brother is also pretty good at simple DIY carpentry and
    we also have a few carpenter friends who lend a hand when we get in over our heads.

  43. Andrew says 18 November 2008 at 09:36

    A note on food preparation: I recently started using rice as the base for most meals instead of pasta. That alone reduced my meal costs. A pound of rice (dry) can feed me for a week and only costs $2. The same weight in dry spaghetti only lasts a couple days and costs just as much (I know you can get pasta cheaper, but even with the dollar brands it’s still more expensive).

    I make three cups of rice at a time and it usually lasts 2-3 days. It saves time too because I can make rice and topping separately, and in bulk. And, depending on the topping, I can use it for other meals, like burritos.

    I’m used to the typical american diet and it’s a definite change of pace to try this, but it’s been good so far. Not to mention healthier.

    At any rate, I think it’s worth a looking at foods outside your typical diet. You never know what new foods or food combinations can help reduce costs while keeping you full.

  44. petunia says 18 November 2008 at 09:37

    If you have kids, one big area to save by doing yourself is birthday parties. Most of the ones my kids attend cost in the $500 range and the parents are happy because they don’t have to clean up.

    Our parties never cost more than $100, cleanup is not much more than a regular playdate and the parties can be longer and a lot more relaxed at our house than scheduled at a birthday party factory.

    I make the cakes too, and that does save some money, but is mostly a labor of love.

  45. Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback says 18 November 2008 at 09:46

    It’s poor logic to assume that it’s worth paying for something if you could earn more money in the same amount of time by working.

    Why? Because most of us don’t actually work when we pay for those services! We also can’t always work to earn that extra money. For example, I’m a salaried employee so working more doesn’t mean I get paid more (unless I can get a raise). Most of us can’t just do our jobs more and make more money that way. And how many of us would actually put in the extra work?

    Most of the time, we use the time we free up by paying someone else to enjoy some sort of leisure activity. How often are we making money when we’ve paid someone else to do something we could do ourselves? Our leisure activities typically have a negative hourly rate associated with them. Using the hourly rate you make at work doesn’t make any sense unless you’re actually going to work!

  46. Cathie says 18 November 2008 at 09:54

    All of you have great suggestions for saving money and I follow them often. However, I find that no matter how much money I am trying to save, the day is only 24 hours long. Sometimes, I save money by not doing something. For example, I got tired of mowing my lawn and have let much of it return to it’s naturally wooded state. (It looks great!) And I have traded in coloring and cutting my own hair for a longer, naturally gray style. (It also looks great.)

    So, don’t forget that sometimes you don’t have to work so hard to save money. Just rethink what you are doing and see if “doing nothing” is acceptable.

    By the way, I’m NOT advocating that anyone lets their house, car, or health get into disrepair. There are lots of things we must do and must do in a cost effective manner.

  47. allen says 18 November 2008 at 09:54

    @Studenomics, Money Minder, others who fall for the time-is-money-fallacy:

    The simple reason that that argument is NOT valid is thus: Are you being paid during the time you take to do this [project]? In other words, if you spend part of a saturday afternoon working on your toilet, you’re not being paid (in a normal job). If you spend a whole WEEKEND working on your mother’s roof, you’re not being paid then (again, in a normal job). Almost 100% of these projects are things that are using time that you aren’t being paid in.

    Sure, you could be relaxing, but many of us find getting a project done relaxing. (and besides, that is not your argument) I know i find saving money relaxing. 😀

  48. Money Minder says 18 November 2008 at 10:21

    @Allen and Paul Williams – we don’t all live in a 9 to 5 world. If you have the option of paying to have something fixed while you are able to actually spend that same time working at a rate that will more than cover the cost you should definitely out-source. Unless of course you are a hobbyist and find personal satisfaction in DIY work – you can’t put a price on happiness

  49. allen says 18 November 2008 at 10:24

    @Money Minder:

    the VAST majority of americans work 40 hours a week. it’s not just the 9-5, it’s also the fact that you have free time/non-working time that you can spend on these projects.

    Even if you were able to spend all of your waking hours at your job, would you want to? I would point out that most people who have to work two jobs, do so becuase they NEED the money, and that the cost of a plubmer, or a handyman for a few hours work is almost always more expensive then what the VAST majority of Americans can make in that same time.

  50. Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback says 18 November 2008 at 10:33

    @Money Minder:

    I understand not everyone works a typical 9 to 5 or can’t earn more money during that time. You just restated my point – if you can and do work and earn more money during that time, then it does make sense to outsource. We just say it differently. 😉

    Most people don’t actually work when they’re getting their oil changed, having their lawn maintained (depends on your schedule I guess), or waiting for a plumber to show up.

    I realize there is some value to that leisure time, but to call it “saving money” to outsource when you don’t actually earn the income to cover the cost is a fallacy.

  51. Brett says 18 November 2008 at 10:46

    Everyone always points out the same things. Lawn care being a big one. What do you do if you have a disability or medical condition that prevents you from doing any kind of hard labor like lawn care or home maintenance? Other then mentioning these same ways over and over what other suggestions besides those two are there? The others make sense, but if you are physically unable to do the other things there has to be some other suggestions.

  52. Studenomics says 18 November 2008 at 10:52

    @Allen and Paul Williams

    Sorry I forgot to mention that I am a full time University student, work 40 hours a week (including 3-11pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and have recently finally opened my own pf blog. (I am guessing your are not 2 of 50 people that visit a day lol)

    For me time is very precious, any time I do not spend on my studies could potentially cost me a lot of money in the future. Therefore, any spare time I have after my work and school, I try to allocate to my hobbies (pf blogging) or spending time with family/friends. For me it makes no sense to add any additional stress to my life.

    I see more value in focusing my efforts on what I truly enjoy rather than stressing about how to learn how to install windows (recent project around that house that was obviously outsourced) or how to cut my own hair.

  53. allen says 18 November 2008 at 10:56

    @Studenomics:

    Ahh, but i would say that your “free time” is not actually free. this is time you need for studying, for preparing for your classes. In this case, it is an investment. Your time quite possibly _IS_ better spent studying for your exam then saving fifty dollars on a drippy faucet, i agree.

    However, i belive you will agree, that you are in the minority. 🙂

    Good luck with school!! [i need to figure out how to go back my own-self]

  54. Sam says 18 November 2008 at 10:59

    We are good about not taking on recurring expenses. So we don’t hire people to clean our house or mow our lawn(s), etc. Although I would love to hire a cleaning service like all my friends – instead we live in a slightly messy house 80% of the time an we do the cleaning.

    But when it comes to a one time expense I’m more likely to entertain the idea of paying a professional.

  55. Studenomics says 18 November 2008 at 11:06

    I totally agree with you Sam. I would rather pay a professional company to install the windows one time properly (with a warranty of course) then have to worry at night if me and my brothers installed them properly.

    @Allen

    It is not easy but the secret is time management. One rule I am clearly not following at the moment as I am working on a presentation for school and at the same time reading pf blogs.

  56. Amy from Silver Spring says 18 November 2008 at 12:14

    For both of us, my husband and I found out that it’s cheaper to do certain things ourselves, and more important it’s more fulfilling and enjoyable to do things in our ways than having someone else does so. We fixed our plumbing system, changed the faucets, tiled the basement room, painted all interior walls, built a cat tree.. things like that around the house. The most crazy thing – in our opinions – that we did was to refinish the wood floor, i.e. sanded the floor with a rented Home Depot’s orbital sander machine, then put stuff on the wood. We saved a lot of money for doing it ourself 🙂 however it’s really a hard job.

    We surely will not touch the electric system because the insurance company will not pay us in case our house burned down by the electricity failure.

    We will not “DIY” our roof because our roof is really steep, too dangerous to just be on it.

    So for things that require licensing like electricity, we will not DIY even though we know well enough about the system. We will not dare to risk our lives either, everything we do, we always assess our health factor first to decide whether we want professional helps or not.

    In my opinion, taking care of ourselves well and responsibly (in health and wealth, now) is actually the best DIY project that surely will pay off repeatedly in the long run.

  57. Jay says 18 November 2008 at 12:15

    I will need to disagree with post #9 that states that its great to learn from your mistakes. Yes it’s valuable for next time, but my cost you a lot in the short term.

    Example: I needed to extend some copper pipes in a bathroom I am tearing out. I went to Home Depot 3 times in 4 hours and all I got for it trying to sweat copper was lighting the drywall on fire with the Bernz-O-Matic. One call to the plumber, 10 minutes, and 150 dollars later he was done.

    Moral of the story was that I could have saved 4 hours of time, 40 dollars worth of supplies, a sheet of drywall, and some stress just by calling the plumber in the first place. So please take stock of what you are doing on some of these DIY projects before tackling them. You would feel pretty stupid trying to save 100 dollars and then burning your house down instead.

  58. Tiffany says 18 November 2008 at 12:34

    I enjoy cutting my husband’s hair every few weeks with the electric shaver.

    Also, I’m currently reading up on plumbing repairs. We have a leaky faucet, my mom has a leaky faucet, and a sink drain pipe is broken. Sure, I could call a plumber. But I’m trying to be more frugal, before I get to the point where I HAVE to be frugal. There are a lot of home repairs that I’m capable of doing, but am intimidated because the knowledge of what to do is not innate. So I’m trying to get comfortable with learning home repair skills.

  59. SJT says 18 November 2008 at 12:36

    Time is money. Some people’s time is worth more than others(i.e what they do with that time). For example, we need a new roof. Now, my husband is a handy guy, but he has never put on a roof. He will have to research all the supplies he will need, go out and purchase those supplies. He will then put in untold hours on the job, hours he would normally be using for other things, like playing with the baby or watching football. He will inevitably find that he does not have the proper tool at some point in the middle of the project. He will end up tackling unforseen problems as they crop up becoming more and more frustrated and eventually cursing the person who invented houses in the first place. On the other hand, he could hire someone who already knows all about roofing, will be able to do it lickety split, handle problems, and finish the job with little or no frustration to us. My husband can work a few hours of overtime at his own job, which he is very knowledgeable about, and pay for the new roof. Which is the better choice? For us, it’s a no brainer.

  60. Cathy says 18 November 2008 at 12:41

    I used to spend $27 a month getting my eyebrows styled and waxed. I bought a $40 eyebrow stencil kit with tweezers, mirror and mascara from Sephora. Basically paid for the cost of 2 sessions with tip. I now maintain my eyebrow beauty myself.

  61. Cathy says 18 November 2008 at 12:46

    I’m short (5’0″) and it’s really hard to find pants that are the right length. I find pants that fit me on the waist/hips, then I alter the length myself with no sew hemming tape. It looks clean and professional, and I save a ton of money getting clothes altered to fit properly. Also works with hemming sleeve lengths.

  62. Carla says 18 November 2008 at 12:50

    @Cathy – that is something I definitely wish I could do myself. Every time I tried in the past, I end up having to fill in bald eyebrow spots with a black pencil!

  63. Cathy says 18 November 2008 at 12:51

    @Carla – I couldn’t do it without the stencils as a guide, that’s for sure!

  64. Laura Linger says 18 November 2008 at 13:00

    Things I used to “have done” that I now do myself:

    manicures (I buff my fingernails, now shiny and healthy!)
    pedicures
    hair color
    facials
    eyebrows

    Not only do I save $$$ by doing these, I really enjoy doing them and have gotten very good at doing my own at-home spa days.

    It’s also fun and cheap to concoct your own homemade beauty treatments, such as facial masks.

  65. Kristen@TheFrugalGirl says 18 November 2008 at 13:26

    Since I stay home, I do most of that stuff myself instead of paying someone. I have the time, if I manage my time well, and so it’s wiser to do it myself.

    I often am disappointed in the quality of work that other people do, so that’s another reason I like to do things myself.

  66. Shara says 18 November 2008 at 13:46

    It all comes down to the value of finite resources of time vs money. Of course that is personal, especially when you bring personal taste into the mix. My grandmother grew up in the depression and after she got married she refused to ever can again. EVER. They would have had to be back in depression type economy for her to consider it even if it would save her money. She did plenty of other money saving things that weren’t as distasteful to her.

    Two things that no one seems to have pointed out is that you can do PART of a job and save quite a bit of money. For example: SJT, your husband doesn’t have to do a whole roof (though asphalt is quite straightforward for simple roofs). If he’s comfortable he could take a weekend and remove and dispose of the shingles (or whatever old roof material) on a weekend and save a bunch of money.

    The second is that by habit we spend a lot of time doing things we don’t need to do. For example many people can cut out a load of laundry every week by not washing their towel after a single use, or through lack of planning needing an extra trip to the grocery or hardware store.

    Another note specific to roofing: It can be dangerous, and that is why you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself [if you’re comfortable], and in my experience it is very straightforward. The expense of roofing contractors is due to really high liability costs for their workers. DON’T let an under-insured contractor do your work to save money. Their work might be top notch but if anyone takes a fall you will be liable.

  67. Chillyrodent says 18 November 2008 at 14:01

    We bought a RoboCut about five years ago, and have cut our own hair (the way we WANT it cut) a hundred times for that $50 investment. We didn’t even mind replacing it last year when it finally gave out.

    If I hated the way it left my hair, it wouldn’t be worth it. But, even getting a cheap $15 haircut that I didn’t like felt like a huge waste of money, plus I had to go out and get it done = more time and money.

  68. Luke says 18 November 2008 at 14:05

    One thing that always gets me is when people use the logic that “I’d rather be at work making money and pay someone else to do it than “lose” money by doing it myself”. The only problem with that is that logic is not always true. What do you do on the weekends? Many people have jobs that won’t pay you any more if you work on the weekend or won’t give you extra shifts etc. So if you do the repairs on the weekend, you do NOT have the option to “be making money at work while I pay someone else to do it” This may not work for a large job (you can’t roof a house by yourself on a single Saturday), but for many things, lawn care, faucet repair, oil change etc. You are not losing money as you don’t really have the opportunity to earn more money on the weekend etc. The only way this changes is if you want to factor in things like, I’d rather pay $X/hr for this task so I can play with my kids etc. But my main point is your employer will never pay you for working 24hrs a day, so you really only loose out on income if you do repairs during your normal working hours.

  69. allen says 18 November 2008 at 15:23

    @Brett:

    There is the possibility of trading chores with neighbors. Maybe someone is in a wheelchair, but they are good at stiching.

    or you can buy a remote controled lawnmower.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8Wz_OXJfyg

  70. Jennifer says 18 November 2008 at 15:37

    I think what this boils down to is a matter of preference on each of our part. If there are things that you enjoy to DIY and you have the skills and equipment with which to do it, it will generally save you money, but you offset it with your time. If you consider your time to be worth more than your money, even on weekends when you are not technically working for income, I can certainly understand why you would prefer to outsource certain tasks, such as plumbing or yard maintenance. Another large factor in all of this is your amount of disposable income – as previously mentioned, many people simply cannot afford to pay someone to do a job they know how to do themself but find odious, like ironing or pet grooming. If you can afford it and you find it personally worth it to pay the money and not have to do the job, good for you. Each to his own.

    The only thing I really would emphasize that IS better to DIY in almost every single case is cooking. I can understand if you simply don’t have time on some days, but cooking at home can be a very pleasurable experience. Not only are your meals significantly cheaper than eating out, they are generally healthier, you know exactly what ingredients went into them, and you can make whatever your heart desires. Also, cooking is EASY. As my grandmother always told me, “If you can read, you can cook.” As long as you follow a recipe, you really cannot go wrong, even if you are a beginner. And the best part is, even if you ARE a beginner, you don’t even need to buy a cookbook to find amazing recipes. There are tons of websites that offer thousands of recipes for FREE, along with databases where people can upload their own recipes and members of the community can comment and give a rating.

    So, I guess my bottom line is – outsource whatever you want if you can afford it, but even if you CAN afford it, give a chance to not oursourcing your cooking! It really does save an incredible amount of money.

  71. TosaJen says 18 November 2008 at 16:52

    This is obviously an area where different people are going to have different abilities and priorities.

    I would add that our abilities, needs, attitudes, situations, and resources can change dramatically over time. Don’t assume that you hate doing something because of a years-old experience, and don’t assume that you can’t get a job done for an appropriate price if you haven’t checked around in a while. Technology has made some jobs a lot faster and easer (cheaper by a pro or simpler for a novice) than they used to be. You might also find that you enjoy doing some tasks that you didn’t before.

    In our first house, we were able to latch onto our neighbors’ gardener for a pittance, but I enjoy doing our own lawn mowing and snow shoveling myself (with iPod attached). I started out getting my hair colored, until I figured out it wasn’t rocket science, as long as I didn’t pick out the wrong box (only one case of Bozo-red hair, so far). 🙂

    I agree that buying all the tools can make DIY very expensive. When DH hired a friend to help renovate our house, it was helpful that the friend had collected a whole bunch of tools for the specific tasks we hired him for, and he was using them for the first time with us! His wife’s annoyance was our gain.

  72. J.D. says 18 November 2008 at 18:33

    Ahem.

    And sometimes it makes more sense to pay somebody to scrape the damn moss off the damn roof.

    — a cold and wet and tired J.D.

  73. Michele says 18 November 2008 at 19:02

    It sounds counterintuitive, but we’ve saved a lot of money by having an extra car. When one of ours needs a repair, we can take the extra time to learn how to do it ourselves. This year, my husband and I have replaced the multifunction switch, taken off the dashboard to repair a cassette player, and put on new rotors. We’ve saved hundreds, possibly even a thousand, on labor, and we’re increasing our skills the whole time. At this point, changing the oil is child’s play for me.

    Yet, I can’t cook to save my skin. The infamous story in my family is that I can’t even defrost food: I once set the microwave too high and cooked frozen pork chops into rubber.

  74. Writer's Coin says 18 November 2008 at 19:02

    I fixed my wife’s digital camera this weekend by doing a ton of research, opening it up myself, and patching it up. It was a little scary, but I saved ourselves $90!

  75. wimwright says 18 November 2008 at 19:19

    I think of the DIY projects not just in terms of saving money, but as building a diversified skill set which can lead to alternative income streams, or just improving my chances at securing/maintaining a primary income stream. I’ve been doing all my own computer repairs for quite some time (along with messing around with them as a hobby), and can now offer that as an added benefit to an organization on a budget (everybody has computer problems; not everybody can afford to keep a specialist on staff), or pick up some money on the side by helping out friends and friends of friends. So not only am I saving myself money when I need work done, I’m gaining experience that I can parlay into additional income.

  76. Michele says 18 November 2008 at 19:20

    As several others have mentioned, I’ve found it much cheaper to groom my longhaired cats at home. Plus, they’re no longer exposed to other animals: once they came home from the groomer with ear mites.

    It’s also much less stressful for them, because if they get nervous or impatient, I can stop trimming and finish another time. When I bathe them, I put on a swimsuit and get into the tub with them to keep them calm. I feel so much better knowing that I’m not stressing them out.

    We bought a clippers kit for about $80 from a wholesale supplier, which is about what we paid for a professional grooming for one cat.

  77. Writer's Coin says 18 November 2008 at 20:28

    I actually fixed my wife’s camera this past weekend. I researched the heck out of the problem, bought a lens kit (you know, those tiny screwdrivers), and then I dove in and did it. Results? I saved $90 and fixed the problem myself. Just don’t drop those tiny screws because it will take you a WHILE to find them.

  78. Chris says 18 November 2008 at 20:48

    It can feel really rewarding to do simple tasks yourself too. Personally, I love mowing the grass and working in the garden. It is quite relaxing and I’m left with something beautiful when the job is done. I try to find the rewarding aspects in other tasks(so I don’t have to outsource them) and that is what helps me maximize each dollar of my paycheck.

  79. AccountingElf says 18 November 2008 at 20:52

    My boyfriend is great with fixing computers and computer-like cellphones. I can do most sewing repairs, and while I won’t say I can cook, I can keep myself fed.

    Home repairs are something I would like to learn though. I see how difficult they are when my parents try to do it, but I also see how expensive it is to hire someone else.

  80. Jenn says 18 November 2008 at 21:03

    we do much of that anyway. 🙂

    except for haircuts! my hair grows fast and long. if yours does too, go to supercuts and donate your hair to locks of love (over 9″ long if i remember correctly). they’ll cut your hair for free and take care of the donation process too! i can do it about once a year, right around summer.

  81. C says 18 November 2008 at 21:21

    Nowadays I like to do things myself simply because it can be such a hassle to schedule someone else to do the work! When my VW headlight went out I thought “oh no, I have to call the mechanic, schedule — it will be a week out — drive out there, wait, pay $70, etc.” Then I googled the repair and after a quick trip to the auto parts shop, I fixed it myself in 15 minutes! So much more convenient. Same with a toilet that was running. Googled it, bought a new plunger kit, fixed it in 10 minutes. I won’t tackle major repairs (yet) but these two quick fixes saved me a lot of hassle, not just money.

  82. Josh Peck says 18 November 2008 at 21:41

    I’ve been doing a semi-annual checklist on my home. Once in the spring, then in the fall.

    Just run through my list and make sure everything is checked off.

    Just trying to be proactive; so I buy the $3.00 bottle of caulk instead of getting $500.00 worth of water damage.

  83. TheAndySan says 18 November 2008 at 23:47

    When it comes to designing a website, I find it wayyyy cheaper to do it myself. The designs may not be that spectacular if I do them, but if I’m getting serious exposure with the sites, I should have enough revenue to hire somebody to make a more presentable website.

    I think that, similar to what you said, people shouldn’t automatically run off and hire some punk-ass programmer who didn’t graduate college when you need to deal with computers. Wait a minute, I’m a punk-ass programmer who didn’t graduate college! Hire me, dammit! Lol.

  84. sebastian says 19 November 2008 at 04:53

    iv been working on my own car for the past few months now! (hey you buy a car for $600 and its gonna need a little more work than an oil change 🙂 and you know what, its easier than the garage will have you think!! and cheaper ($40 to change a speedometer cog vs. $8 for me to do it! hmm let me think…) and i have the added benefit of knowing my car inside out, literally!! so i know just where all the most likely places are that might break and how to fix them, and all i needed was a heynes manual and a mate at the garage i could call if i had a problem, and the latter is easy to find if you take the time to chat to the guys 😀 and the more i do the easyer it gets, i supprised myself by taking the whole head unit, valves and all off to replace the gaskets in just 1 weekend!! (yet another $80 saved, my how it adds up hey!)

  85. Scott D NJ DAD says 19 November 2008 at 06:45

    My family had been in home improvements/general contracting for about 25 years. So I speak from more than personal experience. Please be really careful about what you chose to do. Many jobs are DANGEROUS, even though they don’t look like it. My dad and his brother often joked that they could make a living off of the fix ups of homeowner disaster.

    But more, hot water, hi tension, heights, and power tools are much more dangerous than they appear on TV. The best approach to learning home repair, find someone who is doing a job you want to learn, volunteer to help them, if they’ll teach you how to do it. There is nothing like a little hands on experience.

    Otherwise, you would be amazed at how ez many things can be.

  86. Bob says 19 November 2008 at 06:55

    I like the post, but there one thing I learned NOT to do myself: Taxes.

    I had been doing my own taxes, being a very diligent citizen and gobbling up resources on the web (mostly through the IRS directly). I filled in my worksheets and sent them away on time.

    Then I hired a tax advisor, and within 20 minutes of our first meeting, he paid for himself about 15-25x over through the tax savings I’ve received. (I gave in after moving abroad and trying to figure out taxes in multiple countries… confusing!)

    It’s also really nice not to worry about the whole process anymore. I send him all my paperwork in January, and I know that it’ll be done and submitted on time, with as much saved as I can get. All that for $400? Yes please.

  87. Amanda says 19 November 2008 at 08:05

    When talking about DIY, there are always people who say time is money. If someone can make more an hour than what that someone pays for a project, then he or she should outsource.

    But who can make money every hour of the day? And who wants to? (Unless you make money without actually doing anything, but that’s a different story.)

    What it really comes down to is opportunity costs. Everything has a cost- whether it be time, money or both. Does the DIY project have a higher or lower opportunity cost than whatever else you could be doing?

    Even with a full-time and part-time job, I still have time when I don’t want to try to make money. Would my time be better spent doing a project around the house or relaxing? Every night the opportunity costs are different.

  88. Thrifty Homeowner says 19 November 2008 at 13:47

    Nice to see this. My entire website is dedicated to this kind of thing. Check it out if you’re interested.

  89. Nick says 19 November 2008 at 14:45

    I’ve recently done a kitchen remodel for my parents, did everything except electric myself. My dad already had most of the tools, and what he didn’t we rented, rather than bought. I spent a few years back doing carpentry/general contracting work, so my skills really came in handy. Saved my family a lot of money in labor costs, and still ended up with a really nice kitchen.

  90. Gramatico says 19 November 2008 at 18:39

    I do nothing myself at home.

    Sorry to sound pretentious but that is too expensive. I can earn $80/hour or thereabouts, thus it stands to reason to save $30 or $40 for somebody doing small repairs, for which they are experts and better than myself anyway.

    Once you get to traders charging similar rates to mine, that means work is too complicated for me to do anyway.

    One should make sure false economies are not used for the sake of a few dollars “saved”.

  91. deden says 20 November 2008 at 00:05

    i dont agree. sometimes more expensive rather to hire profesional one. It happened to me all the times. I get bored with that.
    I just hire people and have the best result i want to.

  92. mhb says 20 November 2008 at 08:23

    I’m lucky to be married to a “handy” guy who is good at fixing stuff, but I’ve also learned from him that it’s a lot about attitude. When we were dating he asked me if I’d cut his hair, and I was so scared I’d mess it up. He told me “it’s just hair, it’ll grow back”… and I’ve been cutting his hair for 5 years now. This kind of prodding has led to me doing a lot of things myself and realizing they’re not THAT hard to do. Saying, “it’s just fill-in-the-blank. Try it!” Has saved us considerable money on small jobs that I would have paid someone else to do before.

  93. rubin pham says 20 November 2008 at 13:37

    i am already doing many of the things that are recomended here.
    i cut my own lawn with green energy aka manual lawn mower. it serves 3 purposes:
    1. i save money.
    2. i get a good workout.
    3. i cut down on greenhouse effect.

  94. Chris Harbert says 20 November 2008 at 21:28

    As far as home DIY skills, I think basic plumbing, electrical, and dry-walling skills are great to know.

    I had a pipe burst late one night. Since I had previously done a remodel, I had spare pipe and coupling on hand already. The leak was fixed in less than 30 minutes, using about $3 worth of parts.

    Installing a light fixture or a new electrical outlet is also easy.

  95. Maggi says 25 November 2008 at 07:07

    I’m living in Greece where it seems there is someone different for each job, and you’re supposed to let them do it rather than try yourself. WHen we moved into our first rental apartment the washing machine needed plumbing in. My husband could have done this in half an hour but instead we had to wait several days for it to be done ‘properly’.

    And if you decide to build your own house the government actually calculates the IKA (worker insurance) that you would have paid if someone had built it for you, and charges it to you anyway!

    What I did find amazing in the UK was when people bought expensive ready prepared vegetables. Does it really take that long to scrub potatoes, cut up broccoli or peel and cut a few carrots? And jacket potatoes with fillings (from M&S), to cook yourself at home. Why not buy your own cheese grater?

    Many years ago I attended a night course for vehicle maintenance, and I still do basic checks for oil, water and so on. But it seems that manufacturers are making cars that are more difficult to maintain yourself. It no longer seems possible to tune a car manually, for example.

    It’s all electronic now and the car needs to be hitched up to a computer to find out what’s wrong with it, then they just take the part out and replace it with a new one. Seems designed to keep the car manufacturers in profit and reduce the ability of car owners to do much more than kick the tires.

  96. NatalieMac says 08 December 2008 at 19:00

    I think it’s worth while to examine what exactly cheaper means here. I’m a woman, and it takes me at least an hour to do a semi-professional mani/pedi on myself. I can get that done at a salon in a half hour for $20, and the salon is literally across the street. Subtract the cost of polish, emery boards, polish remover, etc. that I’d have to buy to do it myself, and it costs me way less than $20 to get a truly professional mani/pedi and I save at least 30 minutes of time.

  97. chacha1 says 12 January 2009 at 17:01

    Late comment just because I feel like commenting. 🙂 I cut and color my own hair (cut: whenever it gets caught under my dance partner’s arm; savings $70; color: monthly; savings $100+). I do my own mini-facials with drugstore products (monthly; savings $80+). I do my own mani-pedi (weekly; savings $20+). I do our taxes (annually; savings $300+, plus control over results). In terms of value of my time: hair cut takes five minutes, versus an hour or more at the salon. Color takes five minutes to apply, regular shower time to wash out, plus I can do other things while the color is “cooking” instead of sitting around a salon listening to gossip. Mani-pedi takes a couple of minutes a day of basic maintenance, versus a half hour or more in the salon. (I don’t routinely wear polish, let alone fakes.) Facial takes a half hour max, versus ninety minutes at the salon. And with all those, add travel time. Taxes: all the time goes into organizing the records, which you have to do no matter who fills out the forms! What does all this mean to others? Nothing … we all have our reasons or rationales for spending (or not).

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