One of the best ways to save money is to do something yourself.
Whether you are planning to re-do your carpeting or change the oil, you can save money if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
However, there are times when it makes more sense to skip the DIY project and leave it to the professionals. Be realistic about your expectations as you decide what is likely to make the most sense for your situation.
Do You Need Special Tools for the Job?
Before you embark on a DIY project, find out what you can about it. You want to make sure that you understand what is required for the job, and whether or not you need any special tools. If you don't have the tools, you might need to buy, rent, or borrow them.
Before you buy, make sure that you are likely to use the tools in the future. Spending a lot of money on specialized equipment that won't be used in the future can be a waste. If the equipment is very expensive, or if you don't really understand to get it, that might be an indication that this job is probably beyond your abilities anyway.
Does the Work Require Specialized Training?
There's a reason that plumbers make $90 an hour. It's because they've been through specialized training, and if something goes wrong, they have insurance to cover the cost.
If you do something wrong with your DIY plumbing project, you could very well end up creating a mess that is expensive to clean up. Major electrical projects should also be approached with care.
It's one thing to change a light fixture or replace an old toilet. It's quite another to re-wire half the house or put in the plumbing for a new addition. If the work requires specialized training, and you don't have that training, it can make sense to hire someone else to do the work.
How Much Time Will It REALLY Take?
Anytime you complete a DIY project, you need to decide whether it's worth the time you put in. For me, changing the oil is a good example of this. I can change my own oil, but it takes time, and I have to make sure I dispose of the old oil properly, which takes its own time. However, I can take my car in to a professional, pay about $35, and be done in 20 minutes.
That's worth it for me, since it takes longer for me to change my own oil and dispose of that oil, and I value my time highly. Realistically estimate how much time you will spend on the DIY project, and then determine whether it's worth it. Think about whether you could make more if you did work during that time, or if you could enjoy yourself more if you spent that time with your loved ones.
DIY is a great way to save money. However, that doesn't always mean that it's worth it. Carefully consider the project before you jump in. Figure out if you have the tools, training and time to do the job, and if not, you may want to consider calling the professionals.
Have you ever started a DIY project only to realize you were in over your head? Have you done DIY projects that turned out well?