I’m willing to bet that every frugal person you know loves a good DIY project. Let’s face it, a DIY attitude goes a long way when it comes to frugal bragging rights. In fact, I have used such bragging rights in my own life on more than one occasion. Yep, I am definitely no stranger to the DIY attitude. I stained my own fence, painted the whole house, and upgraded all our light fixtures! But as with most good things, there is a downside. Sometimes it’s just less expensive (and less stressful) to outsource the work. This goes back to the whole, I’m only spending money on things I value bit. Let’s explore a little more before you frugal die-hards bite my head off!
A DIY Attitude Is Not A Frugal Requirement
Am I the only person on my way to financial independence who doesn’t think a DIY attitude is a requirement for frugality and massive wealth building? Sometimes it feels that way. I spend hours and hours each week pouring over the latest and greatest in the personal finance world. To me, it’s especially satisfying to read blog posts that talk about reaching financial independence without having had made all the right money moves along the way. I suspect that’s because that’s the boat Mr. MMM and I are in. We definitely weren’t always financially savvy and didn’t always subscribe to extreme frugality. Finally seeing the light right around the time we were getting married (shocker, I know) was our incentive.
Ahhh, life. Time never stops, things keep moving forward, and people change. That’s what happened to Mr. MMM and me when we suddenly woke up one day and realized we had been full-fledged adults for nearly two decades without honing our financial savviness. We weren’t broke, but we certainly weren’t in the Early Retirement in our 30s Camp. Womp. Womp. So, we changed, literally overnight. Thankfully we already had higher than average salaries, minimal debt, and the willingness to be coached by some of the best the Internet has to offer. We decided to be purposeful with each and every dollar. No longer do we blindly go out to eat or buy something out of convenience. The new US consciously decides where to focus our resources. Sometimes that involves a DIY attitude to save our hard-earned cash, and sometimes it doesn’t.
It’s Okay To Outsource Some Tasks
Don’t get me wrong, we do love insourcing a lot of little tasks that we feel we can complete just as efficiently and expertly as, well, an expert. Tasks that we often insource to save cash include power washing our house, mowing our lawn, painting our house (minus the vaulted ceiling in our family room), cleaning, pet grooming, installing light fixtures, small household repairs, cooking, and on and on and on. But, there is the other side of the coin. You know, those tasks we DO outsource due to a number of reasons (think: time, energy, hassle, and willingness).
Tasks we don’t blink an eye over outsourcing include:
- Car repairs – Mr. MMM and I are not mechanics. When something goes awry with one of our Monster mobiles we typically call a local garage we trust for the repair. They treat us well and we’re happy to give them our business in exchange for a speedy, reliable repair.
- Lawn treatment – Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why on earth would anyone pursue financial independence and pay for regularly scheduled lawn treatments? The answer is, simply, because I want a manicured lawn and don’t want to do it myself. I know it’s “not that much work” to do it yourself, and I have done it myself in the past. But I must admit, the results are definitely worth bragging about with a pro on the job!
- Haircuts – Luckily, Mr. MMM shaves his head! Frugal score on that note. As far as myself and Mini Monster, we go to a nice salon and are okay to give some good cash to a talented stylist. Because we both have long hair and neither one of us has highlights or any color (Mini Monster is still under 10), we’re able to keep our trips to the salon to a minimum.
- Large home upgrades/repairs – Think: tile floor installation and roof repairs. No way are we attempting tasks this big. The high risk of messing up such a task makes the prospect of hiring a pro from the start a no-brainer. We like no-brainers!
The Financial Pitfalls Of A DIY Attitude
By now you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief hearing that even a die-hard frugal subscriber doesn’t suggest insourcing all tasks. In fact, we are often quite happy to pay someone else to do our dirty work. There are many financial pitfalls that can occur when attempting and failing to complete a DIY project. Case in point, you could actually mess things up. If you do mess things up, you’ll likely end up paying more money in the long run – not very frugal. You also can’t simply ignore the required time investment.
Let’s consider this as an example. If you’re researching how to repair a plumbing issue in your home, it’s vital to analyze how much time this will take from your life and how many times over the course of the rest of your life you will use the skills you will acquire. If this is a once and done deal, it’s probably not worth it. And again, let’s not forget the potential of screwing it up. I’m guessing that would be a pretty awful thing in relation to your home’s plumbing.
Another consideration is how much money it will cost to gather the necessary supplies and to make X number of trips back and forth to the home improvement store. How many times have you thought you had everything needed, just to realize you don’t? There goes another trip back and forth – not very frugal. When you add all these things up, sometimes it’s actually less expensive to call a pro. Consider that!
When Not To Invoke Your Default DIY Attitude
Obviously, in our household, it is NOT okay to stay committed to a DIY attitude when the quality of work will be compromised without hiring a professional. We are all about doing the job once and doing the job right. If we feel we can handle that commitment with a minimal amount of time and effort, we jump on that bandwagon! If we feel the opposite, we don’t hesitate to call in the Big Guns (AKA – A Professional).
So when do we call a pro instead of tackling a DIY project ourselves? Here’s our quick and dirty decision tree:
- Do we want to tackle this task and do we think it will be pleasant enough to save us money and provide us with bragging rights? If the answer is no, we call a pro. You heard me, regardless of how small the task is, if we just don’t WANT to do it, we don’t. And we don’t feel guilty about it. Life is too short to expend time and energy on things you don’t want to do. Full stop.
- Is the amount of time required to learn how to complete the DIY project, acquire materials, and actually complete the task, worth the time, energy, and hassle that will be required? If the answer is no, we call a professional without hesitation. Yep, that’s right, despite how easy YouTube makes a project seem, if we suspect it’s going to be a huge time suck and hassle, we skip it.
- And sometimes, the decision comes down to time. Simply, how much time will this take from our lives? If the answer is a lot (of course, this is relative) we outsource the project. We are firm believers in spending quality time with our family and friends. If a project stands to eliminate our free time for an extensive period of time, we vote for paying someone else to complete it for us.
- Do we think we could do just as good of a job as a professional? If the answer is no, we hire it out. Personally, I don’t think we could do a great job repairing our sidewalks or seal coating our driveway. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t want to take a gamble finding out. And if I’m right, it would cost us more to have it “fixed” than just paying a pro up front.
Now, of course, we do complete many DIY projects in and around our home, as mentioned above. But, we also give ourselves the option of opting out. It’s a good feeling.