Do You DIY to Save?

save money diyLately, I have been helping out my good friend get his new house into shape.  He bought a fixer upper and I think might be getting a little overwhelmed with all the work that needs to be done.  They are having a house warming party in two weeks and they have so many things that need to be done.  The good friend that I am, I have helped him out with many projects after work and on the weekends.  I figure that any little work that I can do puts him a little closer to finishing his projects.

Last week, I was helping him put in a brick patio.  After laying brick for 5 hours and being eaten by mosquitoes, I started thinking about how much money he was saving by doing it himself.  Since moving in about 3 weeks ago, he has had trees cut down, but unloaded the debris himself.  He has painted and removed ceiling “popcorn”, along with fixed up some plumbing problems.  He has built a garden, a retaining wall, and just finished the brick patio.  Next, he will put in drainage, put up new gutters, and fix some drywall issues.  All in all, he has put in a lot of work on his own.  I know that he is not only doing this to save money, but also to learn new things.  I know he saved $300 by removing the tree debris by himself.  He is lucky that my parents have a trailer!

DIY to Save

I love doing DIY because it can really save a lot of money over using a professional.  There are so many resources that you can find in order to complete a project and it provides great satisfaction when you actually finish the job right.  I am a big proponent of DIY.  When I can learn something new and acquire a new skill, I consider that a big win.  I strive to learn new things each and every day.  That is the only way to grow as a human being.

I have spoken to many, and some are just scared of doing things themselves.  While there are some that just don’t want to deal with it, there are others that think they are going to mess up the project that they are working on.  That type of fear is what keeps them back.  I know of that fear.  I had the same type of fear when I was in debt.  You can’t do anything if you don’t try and that goes along with getting out of debt or building a brick patio.  We learn by doing and I will always try almost anything once.

Do You DIY?

So, I really want to know if you would DIY to save money or do you DIY to learn new things and get that satisfaction of completing the project on your own?  I DIY to do both.  Are there any projects that you wouldn’t try because you were too scared or you didn’t have enough knowledge in the subject?  Are you like me and will try almost any project once?  I would love to hear from you.

If you want to get creative, let me know what was your favorite DIY project.  For me, my favorite is rebuilding my 1990 Jeep Wrangler.  I love the chance to get my hands dirty and an older Jeep is just the way to do it.  It also gives me more information about how cars really work.

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Grayson Bell

Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog. It is Empowered Shopper, which helps people get information about products they want to buy. You can also check out Eyes on the Dollar, which is a great blog that I co-own.


  1. June 17, 2013 at 7:01 am — Reply

    I’m not at all handy and the thought of DIY scares the hell out of me. I would rather just pay a contractor to do it and get it done right.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:29 am — Reply

      Sorry to hear that it scares you, but you can’t learn until you try. You might be really good at it Glen.

  2. June 17, 2013 at 7:13 am — Reply

    Probably my favorite part of DIY is that you get to learn new things. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and challenging, especially when the projects are housing projects, but overall I think it’s a good idea. There are some things that I won’t DIY, but overall if I have the time I am usually willing to give it a shot.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:29 am — Reply

      I agree. My favorite part is learning something new. I always strive to take on new education.

  3. June 17, 2013 at 7:29 am — Reply

    I think DIY is a great way to go in many situations, both for the savings and for the learning experience. Beyond learning the specific thing, you’re building general skills that will help you take on other challenges you face in the future. I think investing is my biggest DIY project. I’ve been able to learn a ton over the years and handle everything myself, which definitely saves me money and helps me stay confident when the markets get shaky, as I know exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing.

    At the same time, I also think it’s important to know when to pay for help. As an example, my wife and I decided to pay to get help with our wills. We could have saved a lot of money by using one of the cheap DIY tools online, but it was important to us to make sure this particular thing was really done right. I think that finding a balance between DIY and paying for value is important.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:30 am — Reply

      I am with you here Matt. I won’t try some things because I am sure it will cost me much more in the long run. I know my limitations.

  4. June 17, 2013 at 7:34 am — Reply

    Yes, I definitely DIY. After becoming a homeowner, I learned so many things that I never thought I would ever learn to do. It saves a ton of money. Now, I can even do light plumbing!

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:40 am — Reply

      I am with you on that one Greg. I learned so much once becoming a homeowner.

  5. June 17, 2013 at 8:16 am — Reply

    We are huge DIYers, mostly out of fear of having to spend money we don’t have. 🙂 Rick is great at tackling a project, even if he’s never done it before, instead of paying someone else to do it. Even if it’s intimidating to him, he bucks up and learns how to do it. Very rarely do we hire out for anything, and I know it’s saved us thousands of dollars.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:41 am — Reply

      I got into more DIY because I didn’t want to spend money I didn’t have. I know how you feel Laurie.

  6. June 17, 2013 at 8:34 am — Reply

    We like to DIY. Lately we haven’t been the best with that, but we are trying to start back up again!

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:47 am — Reply

      It is ok if you don’t do it all of the time. As long as you have the skills, you can utilize them when you please.

  7. June 17, 2013 at 8:59 am — Reply

    We do DIY where we can…which means we’re teaching ourselves most times as we really are not mechanically inclined. That said, we enjoy doing it as we can save some money and learn something new in the process.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:48 am — Reply

      It is always nice to learn more things. Not everyone has to be knowledgeable to do DIY. That is the best part about it.

  8. June 17, 2013 at 9:05 am — Reply

    I sure do and not just with household maintenance and repairs. I try to make even the most basic foodstuffs and cleaning supplies. I agree with you; there are lots of ways to save if you’re willing to put it in a little effort

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:49 am — Reply

      I haven’t jumped into the DIY with cleaning supplies. Nice work!

  9. Jake @ Common Cents Wealth
    June 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm — Reply

    If the project just requires some time and effort, I’ll normally try to do it to save money. If it requires an actual skill, I’m more apt to just pay to have it done. We redid our kitchen last summer and paid to have a lot of it done, but we did do some things ourselves. We tore out the entire place by ourselves and even put in the new plumbing. I had no prior plumbing experience, but a little reading and trial & error helped us finish the project for about $300 less than paying someone else to do it.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:53 am — Reply

      This is something that I will do as well in some occasions. I will do a lot of the work and then pay to have things completed that I don’t want to work on. It saves a good amount of money.

  10. June 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm — Reply

    I must confess that we are not big DIYers, and hopefully that doesn’t get my kicked out of the PF community! 🙂 I guess the good news is we know this so we save for when we want to do something big – tearing out our background to turn it into a patio (useless as a backyard but great as a patio for entertaining – go figure!). And a good emergency fund for those times when things break and my husband and I debate over who gets to call the handyman to fix it. 🙂

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:53 am — Reply

      Not everyone does DIY in the PF community. As long as you work hard to find a good deal on services, then you are still in Shannon! 😉

  11. Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide
    June 17, 2013 at 1:37 pm — Reply

    You better believe it! I got a $750 quote to replace my chimney cap. Did it myself with better materials (an elastomeric modified cement that will last WAY longer) for $300. Could have replaced with original materials for $100.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:54 am — Reply

      Nice work Jenny. That is a win in my book!

  12. June 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm — Reply

    I have not had to tackle anything myself, but my dad has always done most things himself (car, house, computer). Only when he’s tried multiple ways to accomplish something and is still failing does he call a professional. I imagine my parents have saved a lot by doing this. We completely renovated our two bathrooms last year and it was a lot of fun to pick everything out and watch it come together. I have a lot to learn but my dad has been a source of inspiration. Plus it’s better to have some peace of mind that you can at least understand where the problem is coming from – having certain knowledge is invaluable in emergency situations.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:55 am — Reply

      I have been in that situation before. If I have to try a few ways to complete it, then I will give a professional a call.

  13. June 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm — Reply

    I will always DIY. Even when I consider not, I get a quote from someone and that convinces me to complete the project myself. The only 2 things I really don’t tackle are roofs and major plumbing issues. Other than that, I will at least give it a go. The amount of money I have saved is surely in the thousands. I never understand why people seem to think someone else will do a better job. For those afraid to go DIY, ask yourself why Angie’s List exists. Do you trust yourself or someone else more to get something done right and on time?

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:55 am — Reply

      When you see those large quotes, it can really motivate you to put on the tool belt and get going.

  14. Girl Meets Debt
    June 17, 2013 at 4:26 pm — Reply

    J and I aren’t really DIY types but once the day comes when we finally own a house, then it looks like we’ll be watching a lot of DIY you tube videos 🙂

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:56 am — Reply

      Once you get that house or condo, I am sure J will jump on the DIY train!

  15. June 17, 2013 at 5:35 pm — Reply

    I save by not doing DIY! I have a list of inexpensive people who will fix or repair much cheaper and better than me.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:57 am — Reply

      That is pretty sweet. I don’t have access to such inexpensive people to fix things.

  16. June 17, 2013 at 8:17 pm — Reply

    YES! You are speaking my language, Grayson. There is nothing more fun that scoring an awesome piece of wood furniture at Goodwill and making it look snazzy! Can’t wait to get my hands on some thrift stores back in the States!

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:57 am — Reply

      Ah yes, furniture restoration is a fun one. Nice work Cat!

  17. June 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm — Reply

    You are a much better friend than me. I don’t really “do anything myself.” I can cook. I can change a tire and change my oil. But, when it comes to home improvement, I’m helpless. We have a lady that cleans our house and a guy that takes care of our yard work. It’s pathetic, really. But, I prefer to spend my time doing other things.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:58 am — Reply

      It is good that you admit it. At least you aren’t trying to do it just to save money. That is when DIY ends poorly.

  18. June 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm — Reply

    I’m big into DIY. If I don’t know how to do it, I will try to find out and only if it is too advanced for me will I hire a pro.

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:58 am — Reply

      I am with you on that Edward.

  19. June 17, 2013 at 10:17 pm — Reply

    We always try to DIY prior to outsourcing something. Even if we have no idea what the issue is, we look it up and do some research and then, if we can’t figure it out, we call somebody in to tell us what is wrong. After that, we’ll try to find out whether we can fix it ourselves. It definitely teaches new skills!

    • June 21, 2013 at 9:59 am — Reply

      That is the best way to approach it. Research will give you a better answer. Nice work Daisy.

  20. June 17, 2013 at 11:42 pm — Reply

    We’ve done tons of DIY. Tiling, drywall, painting, deck building, landscaping, putting in laminate flooring, plus lots of other stuff. We don’t like electric of plumbing and sometimes don’t have the time to do something pressing, but otherwise, we’ll give it a shot.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:00 am — Reply

      I like the way you do work Kim. Keep it up!

  21. June 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm — Reply

    Sure I DIY to save but I only do what I know I can do. If it were that easy to become a tradesperson then everyone would just be reading a book or watching the television. I don’t pretend to know how to do anything. I don’t like to spend my money twice so I do it right the first time. I’m watching a program right now where a couple was working on their basement for 7 years by reading books. A popular contractor came in and tore it all down it was all wrong. They didn’t understand, well it shouldn’t come as a shock to be honest. I think DIY is good but I would spend my money wisely if I didn’t know what I was doing. Great post.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:01 am — Reply

      You don’t want to try something that you don’t know how to do. I will research before I try it and if I have some confidence, then I will plunge in.

  22. thepotatohead
    June 18, 2013 at 12:24 am — Reply

    Like you Grayson I DIY to do both. If you own a home getting down and dirty with some projects is essential in my mind. You learn so much stuff about being handy and keeping things running smoothly. Since I bought my house I’ve installed 1200 sq ft of laminate flooring, put in multiple toilets, put in cabinets, demolished a barn, and shoveled 3 dump trucks worth of stone (thats 60 tons btw) to make a base for a new garage. I’m sure I’ve saved tons of money and gained some valuable skills in the process. Plus it feels good to complete a project yourself.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:01 am — Reply

      Nice work. I agree with you. It is an essential skill when you are a homeowner.

  23. June 18, 2013 at 5:10 am — Reply

    I am fan of DIY especially if it deals small works inside or outside my house. Landscaping, planting or gardening I believe I can manage to DIY. I have a good knowledge also in laying curbstones and paving bricks, perhaps I can do this with my two hands.

    However, for things or special works that requires trade or skilled person, I think it is wise to hire one to do it it for you. They will give you quality works.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:02 am — Reply

      If the project requires special tools or a skill that would take a while to learn, then I will get on the phone and call a professional.

  24. June 18, 2013 at 8:09 am — Reply

    Well some of the stuff we did ourselves and it saved us some money. However there are other things that we thought about doing but in the end it just didn’t make sense. For the amount of time and effort I wouldn’t be saving. An example was the bushes and trees around our new home. we paid someone and it took them almost three days to clear the things out the way we wanted. With running a blog, a business, three kids and wifey it just wasn’t worth it. Some of the DIY like painting, fixing a faucet, removing a toilet I will do.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:03 am — Reply

      You have to have priorities and I think you got it under control Thomas. Nice work.

  25. John
    June 18, 2013 at 9:07 am — Reply

    I have to say that as much as I love a bit of DIY, it isn’t always the best option. I’ve recently started outsourcing some of my work and its saved me time and money.

    • June 18, 2013 at 9:23 am — Reply

      There are times when DIY is not the best option, but I have not found too many situations where I would save money by hiring someone. I don’t have to pay for my time, but I also have a wide range of tools that I don’t have to go buy.

  26. ChanceCallan
    June 18, 2013 at 9:09 am — Reply

    Years ago as a single mom, I felt it was important for my teenage daughter to be as independent as possible (I learned the hard way). Anyway, I taught her how to change a car tire so she (I?) would not have to worry about her being stranded (pre cellphone days). Years later her husband was talking about how they met. Apparently she was stranded on the road with a flat tire and he stopped to change the tire for her. He went on to say he wondered what she would have done if he hadn’t happened along. I looked at her with question marks in my eyes and she just boldly smiled back. Ha! Clever girl.

    • June 18, 2013 at 9:23 am — Reply

      Great story. Just because you can change a tire, doesn’t mean that you have to, right?

  27. June 18, 2013 at 9:24 am — Reply

    It depends on the project. I used to work construction, so many projects I can tackle. But time is very valuable to me and if a professional can get the project done in one hour where it would take me three, I might consider paying for their services.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:04 am — Reply

      I am with you there Brian. DIY is a project by project decision for me. I will try most projects first.

  28. June 18, 2013 at 1:56 pm — Reply

    Hey Grayson
    Wow! I am in awe of you and your DIY buddy – you for being a super-friend and your buddy for accomplishing so much in a fairly short amount of time!
    I know I would like to become more confident with DIY – we’ve done some little jobs like replacing light fixtures and painting and such but no really big jobs.
    Like some others that have posted, I’m kind of afraid of breaking my house. There’s no tidy warranty to fall back on if something goes wrong. Maybe too many episodes of Holmes on Homes?

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:05 am — Reply

      Thanks Lindsey. I have seen Holmes on Homes and it appears that most of those people get screwed by poor contractors. That is one reason why I DIY. If it gets screwed up at least I can just blame myself and then pay a professional!

  29. June 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm — Reply

    We don’t do it ourselves, but we utilize my brother and father in law because they are handy in many ways. We do save a lot of money that way.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:06 am — Reply

      Nice work using family to help. My buddy uses his family to help fix up the house when I am unavailable.

  30. June 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm — Reply

    I have done a few projects like painting my mom’s house or trying to fix broken things, with a tutorial it is pretty easy. Now that labor is so cheap I have people doing the job for me but always try to learn a thing or two in case I need to do it myself.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:08 am — Reply

      You have a unique situation down there Pauline. You have such cheap labor access that I would do the same thing.

  31. June 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm — Reply

    I DIY on a few things to save money, no doubt. However, there are also some things that I will immediately outsource. Time is a valuable asset too!

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:09 am — Reply

      You are correct. You have to think of the time as well.

  32. June 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm — Reply

    We are doing a lot more DIY since we’ve been remodeling our 100 year old loft. Electricity is something that I won’t touch though, especially if there is a chance it will need to be inspected.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:09 am — Reply

      Electrical work is tricky. I will only touch a few things like wiring in some small additions or adding new fixtures. I will not rewire a home. That can be dangerous.

  33. June 19, 2013 at 10:58 pm — Reply

    I definitely use DIY as far as finances go. I don’t do repairs on car and house since I hate it. And I am lazy. So I would rather save and then hire someone who can do it and I go for vacation.

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:10 am — Reply

      I like that you admit it. There is nothing wrong with not doing it if you are not into it.

  34. June 20, 2013 at 10:09 am — Reply

    Great post – so many people – especially women, think that home repairs are so much harder than they actually are. You don’t need a pro (or a man!) to do them. I’ve filled in holes in my wall, painted and even tiled my own bathroom. I actually really enjoy doing that kind of stuff and it’s much more rewarding 🙂

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:10 am — Reply

      My wife does a lot of work too. She learns a lot and just jumps in. I like when women just go for it.

  35. June 21, 2013 at 10:20 am — Reply

    I LOVE TO DIY !!! I have been dumpster/trash diving for years. I am currently purchasing a fixer upper and can’t wait to move in and start redesigning. Have you seen that show “You like in What?” Those homes are unbelievable 🙂

    • June 21, 2013 at 10:23 am — Reply

      Glad to hear it Linda. I wish you luck on your fixer upper.

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