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?