Do It Yourself?

While I was in the service and visiting my parents while on leave, my Mom told me about a plumbing problem that my Dad tried to fix. Turns out that somehow or other he tried to loosen some pipes and attachments that weren’t meant to be loosened (don’t ask) and managed to distort the pipes enough that a plumber, called in to fix my Dad’s handiwork asked “What (as in what creature) did this”?

The point is, sometimes you can save money by doing it yourself, but sometimes it can backfire. Which makes me wonder; what kind of Do-It-Yourself projects are you doing to save money? And which ones can backfire? Some things that may save you money are:

  • Doing your own taxes – are you getting all the deductions you are entitled? Conversely, are you setting yourself up for an audit?
  • Selling personal items on e-bay or some other web site instead of using a consignment shop. You may not have to give a percentage of the sale to someone else, but some potential buyers may not be legitimate.
  • Plumbing work (ugh) – see the opening paragraph.
  • House painting (interior and exterior) – don’t skip all the prep work, such as sanding and/or washing exterior walls, or you may be repeating the job sooner than you want.
  • Sewing your own clothes (my wife was astonished when I displayed my very slight sewing skills, learned while onboard a U.S. Navy ship) – okay, this one may be old fashioned, but once upon a time clothes were mostly handmade as a way to save money and store bought clothes were considered ‘elite’ items.
  • Clean your own chimney – get it done yearly, whether or not you hire a chimney sweep; just make sure to get it clean and clear of creosote. If you don’t, it could be costly.

Some other projects, such as Installing solar panels (as opposed to hiring a professional) can save money on your utility bills, as long as you are able to do the job correctly.

Maybe sometime I’ll tell you the story when Dad tried to fix a gas stove and ended up seeing the block evacuated by Public Service. Anyway, just keep in mind – sometimes doing-it-yourself can save money, but be careful; sometimes a professional is needed to repair the work you started!

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