Often times, when looking for advice on how to save money, you will refrain from doing things yourself. Instead of hiring someone to mow your lawn, clear your sidewalk, or fix your toilet, consider doing these tasks yourself.
This advice may be fine for basic household tasks, but it can be tricky for more complicated tasks. Is it also worth doing if you have little time to do something yourself, even if you are saving money?
Read below when it's worth doing it yourself and when you should just pay for it.
Is it always cheaper to do it yourself?
Whitney Hansen, presenter of the Money Nerds Podcast, buys furniture cheaply, repairs it and sells it for a profit. As someone who has tackled dozens of projects, she has learned when it makes sense to do it yourself and when to leave it to the professionals.
She said one of the biggest problems beginners encounter is underestimating the amount of time it takes. This often leads them to take short cuts that lead to substandard work or become frustrated and stop halfway.
“It sometimes costs more to repair a part than to buy a new one,” she said. "If you plan to rework multiple parts, the cost of buying paint, stain, sandpaper, etc. each is not that high, but it can be expensive to get started."
If you are planning on getting into a hobby such as refurbishing furniture, it makes sense to purchase all of the tools and equipment. However, if you only have to do it once it can be less expensive to rent.
When should you buy
Wondering when it makes sense to skip it yourself? Here are some scenarios when it is best to buy:
When the tools are expensive
If you need to buy or rent expensive equipment to complete a project, it might be better to buy it than do it yourself. If you don't want to resell or otherwise use the items, buying an expensive tool is often not worth it.
When it's too time consuming
Often times, if you browse thrifty forums on Reddit, you will see people recommend changing the oil on your car yourself. What they fail to explain, however, is that changing your car's oil can take at least an hour to complete. It's not a pleasant process either – and probably won't save you more than $ 20. You're probably better off finding a mechanic who will charge a fair price and going to him.
When it could lead to a big problem
If you have a large family or have to change clothes several times a day, you are likely spending a lot of money on laundry detergent. If you want to be thrifty and save money, you can try switching to homemade laundry detergent.
But that can backfire on you. You can accidentally void a manufacturer's warranty on a washing machine or dishwasher using homemade detergent. If a problem arises, you may not be able to get repairs or replacements if the technician can determine that you used homemade detergent.
If the result is not better
A few years ago I started taking sewing classes at a local fabric store. One of the teachers always talked about how she made her own clothes, including bras and underwear, and encouraged me to do the same. I decided to start this year with a basic sleeveless theme for my Halloween costume.
It took me several weeks to complete the project, and after that I realized that I could have bought a similar item for a lot less money. Fabric costs aren't as cheap as retailers think, and you'll also need to purchase a pattern, thread, and sewing machine if you don't already have one.
Unless you enjoy sewing in your spare time, making your own clothes is almost never cheaper than buying it.
If it could get dangerous
If your pup destroys toys in a week, making your own toy out of ragged T-shirts or old towels may seem more efficient. But these substances can lodge in a dog's stomach and cause serious problems. When in doubt, buy toys that your vet recommends. It's much cheaper to replace a toy than taking your dog to the emergency vet.
When mistakes cannot be undone
When I was learning to sew, I considered hemming my own pants. As most little women know, even little pants are always too long, and I was fed up with taking every pair of pants to the tailor. I tried to learn to hem my own pants and, while it seemed easy, I realized that there was no way to go back to making a mistake. If I break a pair of pants, I'd have to buy a new one.
DIY projects that can cause you to permanently ruin something are best left to the professionals.
When to do handicrafts
Wondering when is it best to do it yourself? Here are some prime examples?
If you do it over and over again
When I got married, I decided to design my bridesmaids' makeup bags as a thank you. I had learned how to sew makeup bags in a class, but it still took me over an hour to sew the first couple of bags. But the more I did, the faster I got. Soon I was able to make two in the same amount of time I needed one before.
When you have more time than money
One of the most common reasons consumers try to tackle projects on their own is because they have plenty of time to try. If you are short of money but have plenty of time, this could be a good candidate for a DIY project. You can find almost anything on YouTube these days that should make it easier to figure things out.
The contribution DIY It or Buy It? first appeared on the MintLife blog.