Ask Yourself These Questions Before You Do-It-Yourself

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The idea behind DIY is that you can save money on various projects and tasks if you take care of it on your own, without paying someone else to do it.

While this can be an effective way to save a little money on everything from home improvement to yard care to car care, the reality is that sometimes it’s just not a good idea to do it on your own.

Before you DIY, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I Have the Right Skills?

In some cases, it’s possible to learn the right DIY skills with a little help from the book or the Internet. There are many things, like cleaning, changing the oil, and simple home renovation projects that can be learned. You won’t mess something up in a major way if you learn something new before tackling the DIY project.

However, some specialized projects require you to have particular skills and expertise. Plumbing and electrical come to mind. Even pouring concrete can, to some degree, require specialization, depending on what you are attempting to do.

Am I Over Confident in My Abilities?

Be specific and realistic about your skills and abilities. Some projects are best undertaken by a trained specialist even if you can generally tackle those types of work. You may be able to replace a broken faucet or change the oil, but that doesn’t mean you should attempt every plumbing and car repair project on your own.

I can change a plug, but I’m not going to rewire a large portion of my home. Likewise, there’s a difference between swapping out a toilet and doing something major with your pipes. If you mess up on a major project, you could wind up paying even more later when the issue damages your house. The reality is that some projects require such skill that just reading about the solution online won’t cut it. If you don’t have the skills for something, hire someone who does. You’ll be in much better financial shape in the long run.

Do I Have the Right Materials?

Next, ask yourself if you have the right materials to get the job done. DIY projects sometimes require special equipment. If you don’t have the materials on hand, you need to decide whether or not it’s worth it to buy them. If buying isn’t an option, you can consider renting the equipment you need. For projects that require heavy machinery, it makes sense to price out the cost of the project and get quotes from others. In some cases, you’re better off hiring someone else to take care of everything, rather than going through the expense of buying and/or renting the materials and equipment you need to complete the work on a DIY basis.

Do I Have the Time?

Finally, ask yourself if you have the time to spend on a DIY project. If you don’t have the money, you may have no choice but to spend the time to figure it out yourself. You might not enjoy the work, but you have to use the assets on hand.

If you do have the money to pay for someone else to complete the task, you need to ask yourself how much you value your time. If you place a high value on your time, it might be worth it to hire someone else to complete the task since DIY would cost too much of your irreplaceable time. Always remember to think about how much it’s costing you to save that extra money.

For example, I can save some money by changing my own oil. Absolutely. However, the money I save isn’t worth the time I’d spend to do it. I can make enough money just sitting on my laptop at the oil change place writing for to cover the oil change cost and then some. If I did it myself, I’d spend all that time and actually be worst off financially.

If it’s something you enjoy, it can be worth the cost to spend the time. However, if you don’t like doing it and you can afford to pay someone else to take care of it, then that’s a different story. Isn’t your life richer if you spend time doing things that matter to you? Factor that in before you spend your time (which you can’t get back) on DIY projects.

Do You Like the Result When You DIY?

Yes, there are a lot of things you can do yourself at home, like dying your hair. I remember how it didn’t turn out great every time my sister tried to dye her hair at home. Because she was always dissatisfied with the result, she goes to a salon. It costs more money, but she is happier with the way things turn out.

This can be the case for many DIY projects, whether you are making gifts for others or making cosmetic changes to your home. Consider the results, and if your time would be better spent doing something that gives you more satisfaction. In some cases, practice can make perfect and eventually give you the DIY results you want. But if you keep trying and it doesn’t work out, it might not be the right approach for you.

Is There a Reason I Can’t Do the Task Myself?

If you live in an apartment, you probably don’t have the ability to wash your car because you don’t have a driveway or water connection. In that case, the car wash is your best option. If you’re a homeowner, however, washing your car once in a while is a frugal idea.

Likewise with many other DIY projects. My friend is a good carpenter and he can build a bookshelf or workbenches in his shop. He has space to set up his shop though. If you don’t have an empty garage or other dedicated space for a project, then you may not be able to easily complete DIY projects even if you have the know-how.

How Would I Spend the Time Saved by Paying Someone Else?

If it comes down strictly to time – and you just can’t spare any to do these chores, then spending the money is your only option. Free time is a good thing but if you are really just going to sit around and not do much anyway, then perhaps you can devote some of the idle time to these tasks.

For one, you’ll save. But maybe, more importantly, you’ll spend your time doing productive work to keep yourself physically and mentally fit.

How Would I Spend the Money If I Did It Myself?

For many people, saving money is always better. The extra cash can go to a higher standard of living, more money for retirement, saving for emergencies, and more.

But for some of you lucky and discipline savers, saving that extra cash may not mean much other than a blip on the radar. Believe it or not, some folks over saved and any extra income is just going to go to their heirs. For this select group of folks, does it really make sense to try to do everything themselves in the name of saving a buck?

Could I Trade Services with Someone?

Maybe you don’t feel comfortable changing your oil but you have a buddy who is. Maybe that buddy isn’t adept with computers but you don’t mind handling his upgrades. Win-win with no cost to either of you.

The best part about trading services is the social benefits. Especially for guys who aren’t as good with keeping up with their buddies, it’ll give everyone involved an excuse to socialize and get together.

Do I Get Anything Other Than Money by Doing It Myself?

When my friend bought his new home, he built the shelving inside his walk-in closet and added cabinets throughout the house. He also installed the window shades and plantation shutters on every window. He even made his own architectural drawings to submit to the homeowner’s association to approve his yard design which (you guessed it) he planted himself.

Everyone who comes by is in awe of his work and I bet he’s quite proud of what he built. He talks about how much money he’s saved but he gets far more than just the money he saved.

Would you get anything from doing a DIY project yourself, or is money the only thing you’ll gain?

Bottom Line

DIY can be a good way to save money and a great source of pride. However, it’s not for everyone and it’s not the right option for every project. Be realistic about the situation and make sure your project really calls for it by asking yourself whether or not it’s right for you before you dive in.

Otherwise, you could be knee-deep into the project before you realize it was a better idea to get someone else to do it from the beginning. In some cases, you would spend quite a bit of time on the project and you would still need to pay someone to undo everything you’ve done and then to finish the job.

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