Thursday, January 3, 2013

Doing It Myself-Or Not!

One of my retirement goals for the coming year is, believe it or not, to do as many things myself as possible.  My primary reason for this thinking is saving money, obviously.  However, I also hate to see waste, and when possible would rather refurbish an item rather than trash it and get a new one.

Admittedly, "doing it yourself" covers a lot of area-from cooking completely from scratch to cleaning our own homes to making gifts, to landscaping to replacing windows. My do it yourself projects and goals fall somewhere in between, with an emphasis more on gifting, home and small projects than large construction or home improvement projects.  There are always wide ranges of opinions on doing for ones self rather than "hiring out" or "buying new".  Does it save money?  Is doing it yourself just as good as buying new?  Is it worth my time?  I'm no expert, but coming fresh off a complete do it myself Christmas and moving forward, I do have a few thoughts on the subject in general:
  • First, to get the hourly "wage issue" out of the way. I understand lots of folks who stop by this blog are still employed in one way or another.  In my very humble opinion, your time is only worth (fill in dollar amount here), if you would actually have the opportunity to make that money AND if you would in reality do so. Most of us don't have unlimited opportunities for overtime or extra hours-and if were salaried, those extra hours may end up gaining us nothing. And sometimes, often even, we are doing more than one thing at a time, increasing value. If I have from scratch beef bourginon in the slow cooker, I'm knitting a scarf and watching the film Looper, which activity is worth how much time? It would certainly take someone with better math than I (which actually includes most of the population)
  • You save the most money using items you have on hand (and the skills you have). I have two very full shelves, along with part of a closet, full of fabric.  Yes, that fabric and thread did have to be purchased.  But grabbing ten inches of three fabrics from that stash to make a table topper is much different from hopping into the car and running to the store and buying three half yards of fabric for a specific item. Most of us who craft, create, work with wood, cook or have other hobbies have purchased both our equipment and our materials over time, often using sale prices, often using gift cards.  I'm not saying these projects don't have costs.  Just that many of the costs are different and spread out over time.
  • Sometimes paying for supplies will still be cheaper,sometimes they won't. You need to compare. Even with today's grocery prices, by taking advantages of coupons and sales, I can provide a steakhouse quality dinner for about half the price and a better end result. On the other hand, I have no equipment (and no skill) when it comes to Chinese or Thai cooking. It behooves me to, at a minimum, order in. My experience with small landscaping projects and smaller house projects is that for the most part, even buying the materials new, we came out ahead because of the cost of local labor.
  • Sometimes doing it yourself simply gives a different or better result than you can find elsewhere-even though it may not be the cheapest option. As a woman who cannot wear red, black, navy, rust or purple anywhere near her face, I am a prime example here. Clothing abounds in this country. but in a year when everything is one of those three colors, it is worth the price for me to spend more for fabric than I would for a blouse.
  • Even if you're good at what you do and skilled, doing it yourself can take longer. Some folks simply cannot live with partially done, under any circumstances. In that case you either need lots of skilled friends willing to give up time, or serious paid help. For me at least, landscaping the back yard is an ongoing task. One week we till under. Two weeks later we fertilize.  Two weeks later we lay down week screens.......you get the idea.
I have no idea what all of my do it myself endeavours will cover in the coming year, as I downsize-my future home will obviously have some impact in that area. I imagine I'll still be doing my own landscaping, making my own gifts, canning and cooking from scratch, and taking on some larger projects.  There are also lots of things I wont be doing myself.........starting with that oil change that's a few miles overdue!

3 comments:

  1. My biggest DIY effort since retiring has been cooking from scratch. Doing so has been its own reward for me in that we're eating much better quality food at a fraction of the equivalent restaurant price, and I'm end up with leftovers for days. Sometimes I package the leftovers in smaller quantities and freeze them for future nights when I'm too busy or tired to cook, and sometimes I leave them in the fridge to enjoy for lunch, or as a repeat dinner a day or so later.

    And thank you for your kind message regarding the recent loss of our beloved dog. Today is day three, and the first morning I didn't wake up in tears remembering. Time is kind, thankfully.

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  2. Hi, I've been out of touch a little while, with family and other holidays matters. Glad to see you're still thinking things through and analyzing things with clarity. B and I go 'round and 'round on this topic. One limiting factor in our family is that ... well, I'm a clutz. But anyway, right now we're trying to figure out whether to fix the old vacuum cleaner, or buy a new one. (I'm waiting, hoping a sale will decide the issue.)

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  3. You are a busy woman. And I admire how you're choosing to spend your time and your money.

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