Do It Yourself? How I Learned The Value of DIY

Confession: I’m not the handiest person you’ll ever meet. My knowledge about fixing anything beyond the most simple of projects around the house or on a car is limited at best. I’ve picked up a few things since I became a homeowner, but I certainly have no future as a mechanic or contractor.

A few months ago I took my car in for the annual state safety inspection only to find that I needed new brake pads and rotors in order to pass the inspection, and keep my car on the road legally. My knowledge of brakes consisted of knowing that when I pressed the brake pedal, the car would slow to a stop. So I scheduled an appointment at a repair shop near my office, and took my car in on my lunch break to get everything fixed. I guess I had never really thought about what such a job should or would cost, but the $425 invoice I got handed felt like a slap in the face! At that point I had no choice, I had no idea how to do the job myself and I needed it completed ASAP in order to pass the safety inspection. So I shelled out the money and left with a bad taste in my mouth. Not only did I know I had just overpaid for a simple repair, but getting stuck with that kind of bill in the same week that I bought an engagement ring was NOT something I had planned on!

So about a week ago I was driving home from work when I started to hear the warning signs that my rear brakes were needing to be replaced. After a few muttering a few expletives I started to weigh my options. I could return to the repair shop near my office and pay another $400+, or I could do it myself.

I tried reading all the “how-to’s” I could find online and watched video after video on YouTube, but I still wasn’t feeling confident enough to tackle the job myself. The last thing I wanted to do was run into a problem I wasn’t expecting when I had half my car torn apart! Luckily not all members of my family are as mechanically inept as I. So I called up my brother and made plans to have him help me get the job done right.

A quick trip to the auto parts store and I was out the door with the $110 worth of parts that I needed. After that all it took was a few hours and the cost of pizza delivery to have me back on the road and stopping safely.

The moral of the story is that learning a new skill and doing these jobs yourself can really have an impact on your budget and how much money you’re able to save. Had I learned how to do a relatively simple brake job earlier on I could have done the front and rear brakes of my car for under $250. Had I not learned at all it would have cost me over $800!

Paying to have a job done by someone else is more convenient, but if you want to make the best move for your wallet, do it yourself. You’ll learn some valuable new skills and save a ton of money in the process. Who knows, if you get good enough at it you might be able to turn it into a side gig to make some extra cash from those of us who aren’t so handy.

 

Readers: What DIY job has saved you the most money? Do you prefer to do it yourself or to pay a professional? 

 

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11 Responses to Do It Yourself? How I Learned The Value of DIY

  1. Plus knowledge is power, the more you know the better off you are. Congrats on learning a new skill.
    -Bryan

  2. If you can DIY then it’s usually going to be the best use of your time. Simple jobs almost always win out for DIY as mechanics and other professionals will charge extra in order to make up for lower margin services. I wrote a while ago about how I hope to either be able to shadow some plumbers/carpenters/electricians…in order to gain some more knowledge on at least the easier things to DIY. That can save you boatloads of money as your one brake replacement showed.

  3. It really does pay off to do things yourself. I was just thinking this weekend all the things that people pay for that they could easily save money on – paying for someone to clean your house, manicure your lawn, etc. While there are some things that are worth paying someone else to do, I try to do more things myself – and then it’s done the way I wanted it as well!

    • I can’t even imagine paying for a housekeeper or lawn service. Those things are just so easy to do on your own, but I guess some people will claim they have “no time” as a way to justify paying for things like that.

  4. Only concern for me when it comes to cars is that 1) I don’t want to get stuck somewhere if I screw it up and 2) safety as I don’t need my brakes giving out on the highway.

    Completely agree that learning a new skill is worth it alone. Saving money is huge too. I’m just cautious of my own skills. ;)

    The Warrior
    NetWorthWarrior.com

  5. Elroy says:

    I’ve saved a boat load….brakes, hub bearing assemblies, struts, rack and pinion. Nothing I couldn’t ever figure out given no deadline. It’s when I’m under the gun I may need a professional.

    Trust yourself. I’ve met a lot of mechanics that were really intelligent. I’ve also met a lot that were really stupid. You never know who is working on your vehicle unless you stand there and watch them.

  6. We had to have our main breaker replaced last night and I don’t think we overpaid but it made me think- I wish there was a place that listed the “fair price” for services- plumbing, car maintenance, electrical, etc. I understand that price would vary by location, but it would be great to have a reasonable gauge.

  7. I grew up in a household with parents who refused to hire help on anything. Plumbing, everything – it was all DIY!

  8. I am just at the beginning of learning to fix stuff around the house and garage… love the idea… but until recently just rented condos, so there was always maintenance of the landlord… :)

    Love it!

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