DIY is an important part of a frugal lifestyle. Learn how to do something yourself, and that’s one less thing that you have to pay someone else to do for you. And with what plumbers, mechanics, pest control specialists and other pros charge these days, each service call that you avoid could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. That’s a pretty compelling reason to strap on a tool belt and put your DIY skills to the test, don’t you think?
Don’t sweat it if you don’t consider yourself handy — though if you've never touched a tool, you're better off starting with a small project rather than jumping right into trying to fix your boiler. You’ll build those DIY skills, and your toolbox, as you go. And with each skill that you master, you’ll also build your DIY confidence. When something breaks, you’ll be able to use your skills to determine if it’s worth fixing, and whether you can handle the repair yourself. Being able to rely on your own knowledge and skills just feels good.
Here are some of the home improvement and maintenance projects you can tackle yourself.
Handle Your Own Home Maintenance, Repair and Improvement Projects
If you’re new to DIY, tackling basic home maintenance tasks and repairs is a great place to start. Print a seasonal home maintenance checklist. Then, teach yourself how to perform the tasks on the list. Simple things like learning how to clean a drain or vacuum your refrigerator coils will greatly extend the life of your appliances and the systems in your home, so you can avoid those costly service calls.
The great thing about these tasks is that they require few, if any tools, and you're unlikely to mess it up. Learn how the systems in your house work by teaching yourself how to maintain them, then move on to making minor repairs. Here are some useful maintenance skills that are worth adding to your knowledge bank:
Some home repair and improvement projects, like roof and electrical work, are best left to the pros. So, if you don’t have those skills, hire someone who does. You can be a DIYer without DIYing every project. Looking for a project to cut your teeth on?
Here are nine home repairs that shouldn’t be put off. Several of them are perfect for a novice DIYer.
Try Your Hand at Pest Control
Pest control services are expensive, and they often rely on chemicals that you’d prefer not to expose your family and pets to. Take over your pest control, so you can do things your way. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to rid your home and your yard of pests, without a monthly visit from an exterminator. Here are some pest control solutions to put to work in your home:
Just be sure to handle your pest control responsibly. While all of these solutions are natural, they aren’t necessarily non-toxic. Any substance that will kill pests is probably also capable of harming humans, if ingested in high enough quantities. So, you should only treat areas that your kids and pets don’t have access to, and you should educate yourself about any chemical that you’re going to introduce into your home. Make sure everyone in your household knows what you’re using to control pests, so you can get the help you need, should an accidental ingestion occur.
Be a Hands-On Gardener
Gardening can either be a very costly hobby or a very frugal one. The difference usually comes down to how much DIY you’re willing to do. Learn how to make your own fertilizers and homemade soil amendments, so you don’t have to buy them; find creative ways to rid your garden of pests and diseases, without turning to store-bought sprays and solutions; and master the art of growing plants from seeds and cuttings, so you have little to no cost in your flowers and edibles. The less you have to buy from a garden center the better.
Other gardeners can be a great resource when it comes to finding solutions to problems that you’ve never encountered before, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice. In fact, there’s a good chance that your neighbor is dealing with many of the same problems that you are. See if they’ve already worked out a solution, or call your local Ag office for help. If there’s a Master Gardeners program in your area, you may even be able to schedule a free consultation.
Here are some DIY projects and tutorials to help you cut your gardening costs:
Do Your Own Auto Maintenance and Repairs
Keep up with the recommended maintenance on your car, and it’ll last well past the 100,000 mark. Here’s a list of maintenance tasks that you need to stay on top of. It includes things like changing your own oil (an easy task for a DIYer), as well as more complicated tasks like replacing the timing belt (which may be better left to a pro). Refer to your car’s manual for specific recommendations on when you should perform certain tasks, and consider investing in a repair manual for your vehicle. It’ll have diagrams and parts information to take you through just about any repair. Be sure to keep careful records of the maintenance and repairs that you’ve made. Here’s a free car maintenance/repair log printable that you can use.
While handling your own car repairs will save you a ton on labor, you’ll save even more if you find ways to save on the parts and tools that you need to do the job.
Most auto parts stores have a free tool lending program, so don’t buy any tools until you check to see if they’re available to borrow.
Since one goal of any DIY project is saving money, you should be honest with yourself about which maintenance and repair tasks you’re capable of tackling. Hire a reputable mechanic to handle the repairs that you don’t feel comfortable doing.
Learn How to Repurpose and Reuse
DIYing isn’t just about fixing and maintaining things. It’s also about finding ways to make do with what you have. If you can devise new uses for the stuff that you already own, you’ll have fewer things to buy and fewer things taking up space in your home. This often means finding ways to repurpose things that other people would consider trash.
Turn a creative eye on the stuff around you, and you’ll soon think of ways to reuse cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, plastic bags and even dryer lint. Before long, there will be very little that you consider trash, and you’ll find that running to the store is no longer your default when a new need pops up. DIY makes you less reliant on the goods and services that others provide, and more reliant on yourself. Use that self reliance to save money, and you may just surprise yourself with all the things that you can do.