Save Money in the Recession – Do it Yourself – 3 Tips to Help You With Any Project
Doing Repairs And Upgrades Yourself Is Like Having A Second Income
I’ve always been the Do-It-Yourself kind. already when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I’d try it anyway. In the early days, it was because I couldn’t provide to pay anyone to fix things when they broke. If my car broke down, I’d figure out how to fix it myself (sometimes with duct tape and hangers if necessary) to keep it running. Since those days, I’ve tackled nearly every sort of project there is from herb gardening to tile. It isn’t that I am more mechanically inclined than the next guy, it was more out of necessity that I started being a do-it-yourself man and that attitude has stuck with me over the years.
It also isn’t because I love crawling under the house to replace a water heater either. I’m not the kind of person who does things out of a thorough seated satisfaction in getting my hands dirty. It’s a lot more simple than that and it has a functional side to it in addition, especially in these economic times. It’s a matter of saving money. Something inside me rebels against the thought of paying another person good money to do something I know I can manager myself. I might take longer and make a few more errors getting the job done, but there is a satisfaction in knowing I’ve done it myself. already more satisfying is knowing the money I have saved doing things myself has been like a second income. Would you fix an item around your house if you were getting paid $50 an hour to fix it? Well, not paying someone else $50.00 an hour is a lot like getting paid to do it yourself.
Consider this; an appliance repair person (plumber, electrician) will charge at the minimum $75 just to come to your house and confirm what you already knew, that your appliance isn’t working. That charge is just to show up and say…”yep, it ain’t working”, then you will pay them hourly to figure out what specifically is not working. So right out of the starting block, you’re in the hole and haven’t gotten the appliance fixed, and you’ve paid them $75.00 to confirm what you already knew. That makes no sense at all.
Now I realize that with technology the way it is today, fixing a refrigerator or dishwasher might be beyond the scope of the average joe (or josephine), but you will never know what you can fix until you give it a try. Or maybe you absolutely love spending money just for the sake of spending money, if that’s the case, don’t bother reading any further. If, however, you realize the value of a dollar, you can learn some good basic lessons that are applicable to any do-it-yourself project and will help you when you tackle a job.
Sometimes Just Knowing What Is Wrong Can Save You Money
Recently my wife and I bought new Fisher-Paykel washer and dryer set. After about 1 year, the washer began to leak. Being the cheapskate that I am, I started taking the back off the washer to see what was causing the leak. It was a quick trace to a small mixing valve in the control panel housing on the top of the washer. The plastic housing on the valve had cracked and was allowing a slow drip of water to pass by slowly out. Not a tricky or difficult job with only a few screws to remove, a wiring harness clip and two hose connections, however, I have to confess, I didn’t finish this one myself. The reason I didn’t tackle this one was pure economics. The cost of the substitute part was about $30.
The repair center told me they would send a tech out with the part and replace it for $70. Some quick mathematics made me decide not to take three hours of my time to run, get the part and return to use another hour putting the part in and half an hour putting the washer back together. Hey! I like to save money, but I’m not stupid. But the lesson to be learned from this is, I knew what the part was (most manuels for appliances come with parts schematics), was able to tell the service center what the part was so they could bring the right part on their first visit, and knew firsthand the proper part was being replaced. Few things are more irritating than spending good money to have something “repaired” only to find they didn’t get it right. Think you’ll get a refund? Think again.
So sometimes just knowing what the problem is can permit you to save some money by only having the repair technician come one time. If, however, you think you’d like to try to tackle the job yourself, don’t let the thought overwhelm you, it’s not rocket science. If you can tie your own shoes, you can repair just about anything. People who say they aren’t mechanically inclined are generally just afraid of sticking their neck out. Trial and error is a great teacher and one success breeds another. With practice, you’ll be a DIY pro in no time.
Look at these 3 functional tips.
I – Get, And Stay Organized, by The Job
Does this tip seem obvious to you? It should, but it’s amazing how people will start off a small job with good organization and end up with parts everywhere (some missing) and a real mess on their hands.
1. One simple thing you can do to stay organized is this. When you remove any part (or a cover panel) from your repair subject, put the screw back in the threaded hole. It takes a lot less time to remove the screws and install the part then it does to look for the screw among the mass of other screws (or in the corner where it got kicked) you’ve removed during the dismantling course of action. Take the part off, replace the screws in the mounting hole (the threaded hole) and proceed. When the time comes to re-install that part, it’s an easy enough procedure to remove those screws again, replace the part, and re-install the screws.
You might think one of those nifty little screw catcher containers that magnetically mount to the fender of your car and keep up all the loose screws is a great idea, but you nevertheless use a lot of time digging for the right screw, and you may not remember exactly which length screw went where. Just put them back in the mount when you remove the part. Problem solved!
2. Labeling things helps keep it straight. Have a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie to label any wire, hose or other piece that you know you will have a hard time remembering where it goes. I once bought a truck that had suffered a wiring fire under the dash because a associate incompetent teens had improperly wired a mega stereo system and gotten some wires crossed. When I got the truck, it had to be rewired. Labeling was absolutely required to keep things organized and at the end, I had everything working fine. It took a while but nevertheless saved me over $1,000 for a new wiring harness.
The time spent labeling is well worth it. You won’t be able to confirm this until you’ve forgotten to label something and can’t figure out where it goes. Don’t let that happen, just trust me and label. Label your hand if you think you need to, you can’t go overboard.
3. Take your time. There is no greater enemy to the Do It Yourself warrior than trying to hurry by the time of action. Since you haven’t done something a million times, it pays to take your time. I would venture to say, the additional time you use taking it slow is nevertheless not going to equal the hourly wage you’ll pay a technician. I can’t say it enough, don’t hurry.
I’ve started projects outside knowing I wasn’t going to have time to get it done before dark and have tried hurrying the time of action along. Ultimately that’s when you drop a tool in the bushes and can’t find it then you start skimping on quality to get it done and you end up with an inferior job because you hurried.
II – Get A Manual
There is a manual for just about anything these days. Considering the amount of money you’ll pay a technician, buying a manual to help you with the job, particularly if you will end up using it again, is money well spent. Back when I was driving cars that were older than I was, I would buy a manual for the car as soon as I bought the car itself. Usually I would buy two manuals, a Chiltons and a Haynes. Sometimes one would have an error on a particular thing and the other manual had gotten it right. Or one manual would have a good picture where the other manual was lacking one altogether. A Chiltons or a Haynes manual for the cars I owned cost about $15.00 each and I saved that the first time I changed the spark plugs or replaced a serpentine belt.
If you think you will be a do-it-yourselfer, investing in a manual for the major things around your home is money well spent. For general home repairs, places like Home Depot or Lowes have manuels that cover most everything from plumbing and wiring, to sheetrock and roofing. Stanely puts out some decent manuals for a lot of different topics. use the money, get the manuel. You can always proportion the cost of the books with friends and spread the DYI bug.
I wired my own home using a Taunton manuel from Lowes. I put in a 200 amp main panel, a sub panel, can lights, smoke detectors, HVAC, Lutron “smart dimmers” with three way switches, everything, using that manual. The $25 I spent on the manual was pennies compared to the labor I would have paid an electrician to do the complete job. I passed all inspections and to date, no electrical fires or malfunctions of any sort. Do It Yourself Network. From there, you can search the site till you find what you are looking for specifically.
Use the internet in addition, there are plenty of supplies of great information out there if you use some time looking. When I built a new bathroom, we installed a flush-floor tile shower and I referred to some DYI sites to get some refresher notes on the latest techniques for properly “panning” the shower. One great site is the
But remember, you can’t beat a good “old school” manual, or book, it’s hard to have the computer with you in the attic, but a book can be carried around and leafed by quickly, wherever you are.
III – Don’t Fear The Unknown
The biggest thing to get over is the fear of the unknown. Like I said earlier in this article, if you can tie your shoes, you can do just about any do-it-yourself project. It is a matter of following good principles of management and taking your time. Mechanically it’s no different than a thousand other responsibilities you attempt each day.
There will be times (like when your water heater gives out as company is coming in from out of town at the holidays) when you just want to call someone and get it fixed closest! But considering how tight the economy is, and how much money you can save instead of paying someone else, being able to fix, or enhance things yourself is like earning that money for yourself. So jump in, stay organized, take it slowly and when you are done, take some of the money you’ve saved and go have dinner out with your spouse.