Do It Yourself: A Guide to Frugal DIY

| February 6, 2012 | Comments (0)

Everywhere in the media, people are telling you to save money by doing it yourself.  Whatever “it” is, you are expected to become an instant expert, complete the task alone, and save a bundle while you’re at it.  Of course it will also boost your self-confidence and give you that glowing feeling of accomplishment.  But there’s a fly in the ointment.

You see, if you have two left hands when it comes to tools and the depressing inability to use a ruler, you probably shouldn’t be doing “do it yourself” around the house, no matter what “it” is.  Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of the inept-to-competent spectrum, though, so our problem is trying not to get in over our heads.  My tips for doing it yourself, frugally, are below.

DIY frugality

Image by U.S Navy

Choose your Projects Wisely

If you have never wielded a paintbrush or a power tool in your life, you have no business jumping into making a complex built-in bookshelf from scratch, or installing a roof as your first project.   Start with a smaller project, like installing crown molding or a chair rail.  Once you have some experience, your skills will improve and you’ll have a better idea of how much time and energy a given project will require.  Let your first few ventures into the do-it-yourself world be more like a walk in the park than a marathon; when you’re ready you can increase the difficulty.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Let’s say you’ve done a couple of home improvement projects, and are now going to replace the windows in your house.  It’s a great idea, but it’s also a huge project.  This is the kind of venture that can stretch, frustratingly, into weeks or months, taking up every moment of free time.  And if you don’t do it properly, it can lead to issues like water damage to your home.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t replace your windows yourself; you absolutely can.  Just make sure you know what you’re doing and don’t expect to finish the project in a weekend.

Know When to Get Help

This may be the most important thing you can learn about the do-it-yourself project: when to stop doing it yourself and call a professional.  There’s no harm in trying to solve a problem yourself, but don’t let your pride stop you from getting a helping hand when you really need it.  Yes, you’ll have to pay for the professional assistance, but it’s better to get a little help for a small problem than to make the problem worse and end up paying a lot.

Do-it-yourself projects are a great way to save money, but you have to go about them the right way.  So first, do your research.  Get online and read a couple of guides on the project you want to do.  Then try to find another civilian’s account of their experience: what did they do right?  What would they do differently?  Watch DIY videos online to see how the task is done and judge its difficulty. Go to your local home improvement store and ask for some advice.  If you have a family member or friend who is good at this sort of thing, recruit them to help you.

And when you do get started, remember that you will make mistakes.  That ‘s OK.  Stay calm, have patience with yourself and enjoy watching your savings stack up.

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Category: Frugal Living

About Sabrina: Sabrina Matheson was born in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA to a money-smart Mum and a Dad who is a certified public accountant and CFO. She graduated from Butler University with a bachelor’s degree in Dance Performance and a minor in Business and has gone on to dance professionally with Nashville Ballet, Vanderbilt Dance Theatre and Ballet Theatre of Maryland. She has been working with children as a tutor or a teacher for ten years, teaching both dance and academics to kids age two through adults. She currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and their cat. View author profile.

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