Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Do Things Yourself

#14 Saving Money Tip - Do Things Yourself. In this day and age you can hire someone to do pretty much anything for you from shopping for groceries to polishing your nails to putting your photo albums together. Having someone perform services for you saves time and costs big bucks. If you are trying to save money, then perform these services yourself. Unless you are working 20-hour days, you should be able to find time to do the things that need to get done.

One service many people use is a lawn service. It's almost become expected that if you buy a house with at least 1/4 of an acre that you will hire someone to mow your lawn. Many lawn services cost about $35 to mow a 1/4 acre lot. They usually peform it once a week all spring, summer, and fall - about 6 months in Virginia. $140 per month for 6 months is $840. Actually to be able to pay a lawn service $840, you have to make over $1000 because the government takes out taxes. I don't know about you, but I can think of a lot of things I can do with $1000. So why not mow the lawn yourself? If you own a mower, then you just have to buy gas each week. If you don't own one, then invest about $200 and you still come out ahead just after a couple of months. Or use my earlier advice and buy used and have less of an initial outlay.

Another area where you can save money is to paint yourself. At some point or another there is always something that needs to get painted - a door, a room, a wall. Have you priced professional painters lately? Me either, but I've heard that a typcial room can cost about $600! $600! A gallon of paint costs $25. A few hours of labor and your room will be painted - savaing over $500.

Obviously, everyone's needs and talents are different. Not everyone can change their own oil or fix an appliance. But many people can make a little effort to do more things for themselves and save a lot of money.

In Real Life (IRL) - I like to do things myself or have my husband do things since he's quite handy. I really don't like to pay people to do things for us if we are capable of doing them ourselves. My husband used to mow our lawn once a week. However, he was getting quite tired of it and said he wanted to hire our neighbor's child to do it for us. I balked at the $35 per week that it was going to cost us and volunteered to do it instead. I used our gas mower the first couple of weeks and then decided that a reel mower would work just as well on our lawn and be better for the environment and cheaper because it doesn't use gas. I found a reel mower on Craigslist for $40 and haven't looked back. I've used it all summer. And each time I mow, I think about that $35 going into my daughter's education fund.

I'm lucky because my husband is quite handy. Over the years he has saved us quite a bit of money doing things himself. I know not everyone is blessed this way (Trust me, I know. My dad was the most unhandy person around so we called a repairman for everything!) But many jobs are easy enough for any layperson to do even though there are professionals who can be hired to do the same things. I cut my children's hair, sew buttons on clothing, clean my house, shovel our driveway, rake our leaves, cook my own food, dye my own hair in addition to all of the handyman things my husband does around the house.

So next time something needs to get done and you're ready to call a professional, ask yourself if you think you can do it yourself. Chances are you will say yes and save money while you're doing it.

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